Climate Change Authority

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The Climate Change Authority (the Authority) was established under the Climate Change Authority Act 2011 (Cth) (the Act) and commenced operation on 1 July 2012.

The Authority’s primary role is to provide independent expert advice on Australia’s goals and policies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The specific functions of the Authority are set out in the Act. These include conducting reviews of:

  • the operation of the Renewable Energy Target scheme (as per section 162 of the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000 (Cth));
  • the Carbon Farming Initiative (as per section 306 of the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Act 2011 (Cth));
  • the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting System (as per sections 76A and 76B of the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007 (Cth));
  • the progress in achieving Australia’s emissions reduction targets and national carbon budget; and
  • the Clean Energy Act 2011 (Cth) and associated provisions, carbon pollution caps, national emissions trajectory and national carbon budget (as per Part 22 of the Clean Energy Act 2011).

The Authority may also conduct special reviews, as provided for in Part 3 of the Act, and research about matters relating to climate change or for purposes in connection with the performance of any of the Authority’s functions.

Under section 59 of the Act, the Climate Change Minister or the Parliament may request reviews of matters relating to climate change.

The Climate Change Authority is a prescribed agency under the Financial Management Act 1997 (Cth). It is also subject to the Auditor-General Act 1997 (Cth) and Authority staff are employees of the Australian Public Service under the Public Service Act 1999 (Cth).

The Authority reports to the Australian Parliament through the Climate Change Minister.



31 December 2012: First Renewable Energy Target review


28 February 2014: First review of progress towards national targets and budget

28 February 2014: Recommendations of pollution caps for 2015–16 to 2019–20, national trajectory and carbon budgets


31 December 2014: Second Renewable Energy Target review

28 February 2015: Annual review – progress towards targets and budget


28 February 2016: Annual review – progress towards targets and budget

28 February 2016: First annual recommendations on pollution caps


The Authority comprises eight part-time members, and an ex-officio member, the Chief Scientist. Members are appointed by the Climate Change Minister under section 18 of the Act.

Authority members are assisted by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Authority staff. The CEO is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the Authority.

The Authority’s organisational structure is outlined in Figure 1. The agency is led by the CEO, Ms Anthea Harris. Ms Harris is supported by the General Managers Review, Ms Kath Rowley and Ms Rebecca Burdon, and the General Manager Corporate Services and Review, Ms Clare Penrose.

In carrying out its day-to-day work, the Authority has structures, systems and processes in place to ensure that its governance, compliance and accountability responsibilities are met (see Part 5 of this report).

Under a Memorandum of Understanding, the Authority had a shared services arrangement with the then portfolio department, the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. A new agreement was established with then new portfolio department, the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIICCSRTE), following the 25 March 2013 machinery of government change.

Under the agreement, the DIICCSRTE provided the Authority with a range of corporate services, including financial management, legal, information, and communications technology and human resources management services.



The Australian Government requires agencies to measure their performance in terms of outcomes. The outcome expected from the Authority’s work in 2012-13 is set out in the table below:



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 Authority will regularly review and make recommendations to the Australian Government on climate change mitigation policies. This will include biennial reviews of the Renewable Energy Target, triennial reviews of the Carbon Farming Initiative, five-yearly reviews of the Carbon Pricing Mechanism (excluding industry and household assistance) and the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting System, and annual reviews of the level of pollution caps and carbon budgets (or any national indicative trajectories) and progress towards achieving Australia’s emissions reduction targets. The Authority will also conduct any other research that it considers necessary or other reviews as tasked by the Minister or Parliament.

In performing these reviews and 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 the next part of this report.