Chapter 3: About the Climate Change Authority
3.1 Functions of the Authority
The Authority was established under the Climate Change Authority Act 2011 (Cth) and commenced operation on 1 July 2012. The Authority is an independent statutory body established to provide expert and balanced advice on climate change policy issues, including Australia’s emissions reduction goals.
The Authority has a number of functions as set out under the Act. These include conducting legislative reviews of:
- section 289 of the Clean Energy Act 2011 (Cth) (since repealed), relating to reviewing the level of carbon pollution caps, and any indicative national emissions trajectory and national carbon budget
- section 291 of the Clean Energy Act 2011 (Cth) (since repealed), relating to Australia’s progress in achieving its medium- and long-term targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and any national carbon budget
- the operation of the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Act 2011 (Cth), relating to projects to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and projects to avoid emissions of greenhouse gases
- sections 76A and 76B of the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007 (Cth), relating to greenhouse gas and energy reporting
- the Renewable Energy Target, under section 162 of the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000 (Cth).
Under Part 3 of the Climate Change Authority Act 2011 (Cth),the minister or both Houses of Parliament may request the Authority to conduct special reviews.
In addition to the functions listed above, the Authority has a broad remit to conduct research about matters relating to climate change (under section 11 of the Climate Change Authority Act 2011 (Cth)).
The Authority reports to the Australian Parliament through the Minister for the Environment.
3.2 Organisational Structure
The Authority’s organisational structure is outlined in Figure 1. The Authority comprises a Chair and seven part-time Members, plus an ex officio Member—Australia’s Chief Scientist. Members are appointed by the Minister for the Environment under section 18 of the Climate Change Authority Act 2011 (Cth). For the majority of 2013–14, the Authority had a Chair plus eight Members; however, at 30 June 2014 three Members had resigned, leaving two positions unfilled.
Authority Members are supported by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Authority staff. The CEO is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the Authority.
The Authority has established structures, systems and processes in place to ensure that its governance, compliance and accountability responsibilities are met (see Chapter 5).
Figure 1: Climate Change Authority Organisation Chart as at 30 June 2014
3.3 Outcome and Program Structure
The Australian Government requires agencies to measure their performance in terms of outcomes. The outcome expected from the Authority’s work in 2013–14 is set out in Box 1.
Box 1: Outcomes and Performance Information
Provide expert advice to the Australian Government on climate change mitigation initiatives, including the level of carbon pollution caps, the carbon price mechanism, the Renewable Energy Target and progress in achieving Australia’s emissions reduction targets, through conducting periodic reviews and undertaking climate change research.
The Climate Change Authority will deliver influential, independent, expert advice by:
- engaging stakeholders to gather information and debate policy options
- undertaking extensive and rigorous research and analysis
- presenting insightful and practical reports
- operating within a strong governance and accountability framework.
In performing its work, the Authority will be guided by the following principles: economic efficiency; environmental effectiveness; equity; public interest; accounting for the impact on households, business, workers and communities; supporting the development of an effective global response to climate change; and consistency with Australia’s foreign policy and trade objectives.
The program attached to this outcome was Program 1.1: Reviewing Climate Change Mitigation Policies. Performance against this program is assessed in Chapter 4.