Australia’s world-first climate-related consumer protection code of conduct is now fully operational, committing the nation’s carbon industry to higher standards of integrity, transparency and accountability than ever before.
The Australian Carbon Industry Code of Conduct has expanded its powers to investigate consumer complaints, monitor and audit activities of its 22 signatories, and take enforcement action against those that deliberately mislead or disadvantage community clients.
John Connor, CEO of the Carbon Market Institute, which administers the voluntary code of conduct, says: “This is a vital step in growing a high integrity Australian carbon reduction and sequestration industry that farmers, consumers and investors can rely on.
“It’s an important world-first, building on an already respected framework of government assurance.”
Code of conduct signatories include carbon service providers who, on conservative estimates, represent almost half of all carbon credits issued under the federal government’s Emissions Reduction Fund. They are, or will be, significant participants in state-based contracting such as Queensland’s Land Restoration Fund.
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Code signatories also include intermediary brokerage, legal and advisory service providers. Many signatories engage with independent landowners, farmers, pastoralists and Indigenous stakeholders in their business activities.
Under the code of conduct, these carbon businesses have committed to ensuring this engagement follows proper, ethical processes, does not jeopardise the stakeholders’ rights, and enhances the industry’s overall reputation.
The Carbon Market Institute recently appointed former Clean Energy Regulator board member Virginia Malley, and regulatory and finance experts Kim Lawrence and Ross Carter as members of the inaugural Code Review Panel—an independent body that will act as an arbitrator of code compliance and appeals processes.
The Code Administrator also welcomed the New South Wales government as its second formal government partner, joining the Queensland Government in endorsing the code as a critical third-party assurance framework for developing state carbon markets.
Esther Bailey, director for Climate Resilience, Adaptation and Net Zero Emissions in the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, says “We are excited to be the second government partner supporting this important market-shaping code.
“Strong and credible carbon markets will be vital to meeting the decarbonisation challenge, and tools like the code will help us get there.
“The Code has now reached a critical milestone of maturity, and with growing support from governments and industry partners, this framework is now an important foundation of Australia’s climate response.”
The Code of Conduct aims to increase the quality of carbon abatement that is occurring in Australia, ensuring that projects ranging from traditional fire management in Cape York to native ecosystem regeneration projects in Tasmania all contribute positive outcomes to local employment, the environment as well as to the stakeholders involved.
“Considering the scale and extent of climate action required to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, carbon projects remain a critical climate solution,” Mr Connor.
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“As this industry grows, the code will play a role in ensuring that local communities, Indigenous stakeholders and farmers can make informed decisions, are engaged in a meaningful way, and that appropriate benefit-sharing takes place.
“The code also provides a layer of consumer protection to other market participants, providing an additional level of risk assurance to the large and multinational corporates that are increasingly purchasing carbon credits.
“In addition, the code seeks to integrate climate repair with land and history repair so that carbon projects contribute to healthy, resilient and pragmatic benefits to Indigenous communities that respect their native title rights.
“We look forward to working with our expanding cohort of signatories in the coming months and raising the integrity and reputation of the industry to match the rate of growth of private and public sector investment in climate action right across the country.
“We also look forward to engaging with our government partners and industry supporters to ensure our carbon industry can continue to contribute to Australia’s emissions targets at the highest levels of integrity, transparency and accountability possible.”