Climate Change

Climate change is a critical long-term challenge for businesses.

The effects are already being felt and causing significant shifts in corporate strategy and compliance management.

The Paris target of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees represents the 'north star' for these shifts, but organisations face the challenge of fragmented domestic implementation of this international target.

Alongside this challenge, the regulatory response to climate change also presents significant opportunities, with new markets and technologies developing as part of the transition towards a lower carbon economy.

How we can help

Clients look for efficient and comprehensive guidance on the changing regulatory environment to take advantage of emerging opportunities and to comply with evolving standards.

We provide advice on:

  • Directors' duties and corporate disclosure obligations in relation to climate-related financial risk, in particular the interaction between these duties and the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) framework;
  • Statutory duties of public bodies in relation to climate-related financial risks;
  • Obligations under emissions reporting, renewable energy and emissions reduction legislation, including the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Scheme and Safeguard Mechanism;
  • Advice and submission writing in relation to emerging reforms in the climate change and renewable energy policy area;
  • Projects aimed at greenhouse gas reductions, both domestically and internationally, including in the agricultural and land use sectors;
  • Offtake agreements for carbon units, including Australian Carbon Credit Units;
  • Contractual allocation of risk in relation to, and responsibility for, climate-related regulatory obligations;
  • Assisting clients to manage climate-related risks in approvals processes for new projects; and
  • Advising on physical risk mitigation strategies, including organisation-wide climate adaptation strategy planning.

Keeping our clients informed of climate change-related regulation in Australia, Asia and Europe

Our extensive resources, including our alliance with Linklaters, enable us to stay ahead of legal issues relating to climate change across multiple jurisdictions and to share this information with our client network. In particular, we work with Allens' industry specialists to tailor advice on emerging climate risks and opportunities to ensure its relevance to boards, in-house counsel and managers in affected sectors.

In line with our commitment to sustainability, we were the first Australian law firm to be certified carbon neutral

Through the Australian Government's Carbon Neutral Program, sourcing high quality carbon offsets in partnership with the Qantas Future Planet Program, we seek to support projects with social and economic co-benefits, including an indigenous carbon farming project in the North Kimberley.

We are proud to be members of the Carbon Markets Institute and the Clean Energy Council.

Experience

Voluntary carbon offsetting

Advised financial sector clients to procure carbon units to become carbon neutral by voluntarily procuring carbon offsets. This involved advising on the National Carbon Offset Standard, as well as negotiating tailored ISDA documentation for the staged transfer of carbon units.

National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Scheme (NGERS)

Advised a large range of clients on their compliance with the NGERS, including Rio Tinto, Eni Australia, Macquarie Capital Advisers, Newcrest Mining, IPR-GDF Suez, Woodside Energy, Xstrata, LinkWater, SunWater, QWI, Tassal, Port of Brisbane and CB Richard Ellis.

Carbon pass-through clauses

Advised clients on the opportunities and risks associated with the Emissions Reduction Fund, which expanded the pre-existing land sector-based Carbon Farming Initiative and the proposed Safeguard Mechanism. Our experience includes assisting the Wiliggin Aboriginal community in the North Kimberly region of Western Australia.

Emissions Reduction Fund and Carbon Farming Initiative

Advised clients on the opportunities and risks associated with the Emissions Reduction Fund, which expanded the pre-existing land sector-based Carbon Farming Initiative and the proposed Safeguard Mechanism. Our experience includes assisting the Wiliggin Aboriginal community in the North Kimberly region of Western Australia.

Wind farm projects

Acting for sponsors and financiers, our roles have involved advising on planning and development approvals, the environmental assessment process, land tenure issues, construction issues, joint venture arrangements, investment structuring and taxation issues.

Biosequestration

Advised on agricultural and forestry offsets projects to offset carbon dioxide emissions in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia.

Emissions abatement projects under the Clean Development Mechanism

Advised Macquarie Global Investment on the establishment of an incorporated joint venture (BioCarbon Group Pte Ltd), with the International Finance Corporation and others, to deliver avoided deforestation projects, initially in Indonesia.

Carbon pricing disputes

Advised both suppliers and purchasers of electricity on disputes regarding the pass-through of carbon costs under their electricity supply contracts.

Mine development

Advised on climate-related litigation relating to the development of coal mines, including advising clients on the implications for the sector of the recent Rocky Hill decision in the NSW Land and Environment Court.

Carbon capture and storage

Advised the Victorian Government on the Commonwealth carbon capture and storage legislation, and in relation to proposed Victorian carbon capture and storage legislation.

Carbon Pricing Scheme

Advised clients, including Rio Tinto, Woodside Energy, Newcrest Mining and Xstrata, as well as numerous electricity generators, gas transporters, LNG/gas producers and electricity/gas retailers, on their compliance with the previous federal carbon pricing scheme.