CEA data release a welcome boost to transparency, with more comprehensive database required in long term

The Carbon Market Institute (CMI) welcomes today’s public release of Carbon Estimation Area (CEA) boundary data as an important step that can improve transparency and provide a vehicle to address legitimate issues that arise with projects.

Now available on the Clean Energy Regulator’s (CER) website, the data release is an initial response to recommendations made by the Independent Review of Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs), which called for legislation changes to “maximise transparency, data access and data sharing”.

The CEA ‘shapefiles’ cover the areas within a carbon project where abatement is calculated, and from which ACCUs can be issued. However, CMI noted that the boundary data alone still constituted a small proportion of the data used to accurately measure project outcomes, and cautioned that there was the potential for it to be misinterpreted if not accompanied by the appropriate resources.

“The release of more project data is an important and welcome outcome of the ACCU Review, and it will hopefully help build greater investor and community confidence, as well as help bring to the surface any issues that must be dealt with appropriately,” said John Connor, CMI CEO.

“It’s also important to understand what goes into accurately analysing the outcomes of a project, in order to avoid misinterpretation.”

“A project’s CEA is a large package of information, including billions of pixels of validated spatial data, integrated with land management activities and livestock information which covers the decade before and throughout the life of the project.”

“Assessing boundary data alone, at a singular point in time, therefore makes it very difficult to create an accurate representation without the other elements and the expertise to be able to analyse the entire project and tell the full story.”

To address this in the short-term, the CER has facilitated a proponent-led voluntary release of supporting data to accompany the published CEA shape files. CMI’s Guidance Brief provides further guidance on additional information that can assist people to draw informed conclusions from these datasets.

In order to provide a more comprehensive public-facing dataset in future, CMI will continue to advocate for the establishment of a separate National Data Platform, independently managed by the newly created Environment Information Australia or the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

“A National Data Platform would enable transparency of key attribution data such as project management details, while protecting key personal and commercial details.”

“In the interim, we strongly urge project proponents to consider publishing or submitting relevant additional data to the CER registry to allow full consideration of project outcomes,” concluded Connor.

CMI’s Guidance Brief is available here.

About the Carbon Market Institute

The Carbon Market Institute (CMI) is a member-based institute accelerating the transition towards a negative emissions, nature positive world. It champions best practice in carbon markets and climate policy, and its over 150 members include primary producers, carbon project developers, Indigenous organisations, legal, technology and advisory services, insurers, banks, investors, corporate entities and emission intensive industries. The positions put forward constitute CMI’s independent view and do not purport to represent any CMI individual, member company, or industry sector.

For further information, contact Thomas Hann on 0408 880 536 or thomas.hann@carbonmarketinstitute.org

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