Mandatory emissions reporting threatens explosion of red tape

By: Jason Whittaker

A proposal to force transport operators to report their greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption levels may burden long-haul companies

A proposal to force transport operators to report their greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption levels may burden long-haul companies with a mound of regulatory and administrative costs.

The proposal of mandatory reporting is part of a policy paper released by the Rudd Government as part of the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting System.

Road, rail, water and air transport operators will be required to report all fuels and energy used in transport activities. Depending on what state the company operates in will determine where they report to.

As such, there are serious implications for long-haul operators, according to Stuart St Clair, Chief Executive of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA).

He says if the proposal stands, long-haul operators who run facilities out of more than one state may be forced to report emission and consumption levels of each facility separately, thereby duplicating paperwork and adding to administrative costs.

The ATA is calling for the Government to amend the proposal so operators can combine facilities as one, saving them the cost of having to report each facility separately.

St Clair fears any other proposal may be too much for the trucking industry, especially smaller operators, because it will impose a "volume of complexity" due to the fact reporting procedures will be "all over the place".

"A lot of this is not completely clear at this point in time, but we are certainly trying to make sure that there is one basic reporting mechanism happening here in Australia and that should be as simplistic as possible," he says.

According to the policy paper, a trucking operator will need to report emission levels once they use 2.5 million litres of diesel and once energy consumption levels hit more than 100 terajoules.

St Clair argues both figures will impact heavily on long-haul operators, as line-haul operators with about 20 trucks or more will have to submit to mandatory reporting.

"If you are running a whole lot of line-haul then you will hit that [2.5 million litres] pretty quick," he says.

The ATA is currently researching on a nationwide basis the number of operators who will be affected by the emission and consumption levels.

But while the ATO is supplying on-road grant figures in an effort to determine a number, the process is expected to take a fair while because, as St Clair says, companies may claim grants weekly, monthly or yearly, thus skewing the figures.

"There is no guide that tells you what the usual claiming time is going to be so therefore you cannot get any consistency in your data," he says.

The ATA is also calling for an upstream acquittal approach in any carbon tax scheme considered by the Federal Government. St Clair wants any imposed costs added to the price of diesel, effectively cutting out any paperwork but also stopping the chance of fraud by some companies who may try to avoid paying the tax.

St Clair says the ATA will be continually raising such issues in order "to ensure the industry has a voice".

"We just keep working at it," he says. "It is like a never-ending breakfast."

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