Emissions trading and tax: a trans-Tasman perspective

Climate Change

With the emergence of climate change as a legal issue in Australia more than two decades ago, Minter Ellison’s climate change team has been at the forefront, providing clients with strategic advice on matters relating to climate change and clean energy.

Our team adopts a cross-disciplinary approach, covering all relevant areas of law. Our environment and planning lawyers work closely with tax, energy and resources, banking and finance, infrastructure, construction and intellectual property practitioners, who make up our team of 14 specialists located across Australia and New Zealand.

We focus on providing innovative legal advice to clients so that they can comply with and capitalise on statutory climate change policies and schemes as well as clean and renewable energy opportunities. We advise a diverse range of industries and sectors on the design and likely operation of the carbon pricing mechanism, based on the Australian Prime Minister’s announcement on 11 July 2011. Our approach has given us the opportunity to advise on the design and implementation of emissions trading schemes in the United Kingdom and New Zealand, and involvement in numerous projects relating to mandatory and voluntary emissions trading, forestry and avoided deforestation, and securing greenhouse gas abatements and offsets.

In the clean energy/renewables development, Minter Ellison has taken a leading role on high profile Australian renewable projects including wind, hydro, solar, bio gas and waste mine gas. We have advised on the development, financing and management of these projects.

We have been at the forefront of the legal issues involved with the geosequestration (carbon capture and storage - CCS) of carbon dioxide emissions since 2004. Our team advises government entities on the establishment of regulatory regimes for CCS and we have provided significant advice to private sector clients on related legal issues for CCS projects.

Minter Ellison is a member of the Commonwealth Government’s Department of Climate Change legal panel, advising on the development and implementation of the previously proposed carbon pollution reduction scheme. In addition, the joint leader of our climate change practice, Duncan McGregor, is Chair of the Commonwealth Government’s Domestic Offsets Integrity Committee, which makes recommendations to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency in relation to draft project methodologies under the proposed Carbon Farming Initiative.

Carbon Pricing and Trading

Advising numerous energy industry clients on the impact of carbon pricing on electricity hedge arrangements and on trading of carbon and other green rights under the environmental product schedule. Clients include Stanwell Corporation Limited, QGC, Rio Tinto and Energex Limited.

TrustPower Tararua wind farm

Advised TrustPower, a New Zealand wind farm and hydro generator, on its purchase of the largest wind farm in Australasia (Tararua), including reviewing the documentation in relation to its construction, financing and connection, advising on all ongoing issues (such as work associated with its expansion), and negotiations with the Crown on obtaining emission units and the trading of those emission units.

Clean Energy Scheme

Undertook a detailed review of the impact of the Clean Energy Scheme on the contract supply chain for a major gas producer, including preparation of template contract review documents and analysis of pass through clauses.

Boyne Island Aluminiuim Smelter

Advised Boyne Smelters Limited on both long and short term contracts for the purchase of additional electricity for the Boyne Island Aluminium Smelter and related transmission arrangements. The work included advice on tender documentation, AFSL considerations and developing novel contract structures to operate within the National Electricity Rules.