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GRC Professional : GRC Winter 2012
IN DEPTH 12 GrC Professional • winter 2012 Environmental compliance The carbon tax, chemical leaks and community engagement: how GRC professionals manage the challenges. By KeeLI CAMBourne ON 29 JuNE, MINING COMPANY ORICA APPEARED IN THE NSW Land and Environment Court and pleaded guilty to breaching its Env ironmental Protection licence in relation to several high profile incidents in 2011 at its Kooragang plant. Toxic chemicals, including ammonium nitrate and nitric acid, leaked into the air and water and settled over neighbouring suburb Stockton, Newcastle, risking human health and Orica’s reputation. The case highlights the risks of negligence at a time when the stakes have never been higher. Environmental accidents and breaches are nothing new, but environmental compliance is moving out of the back office into the front with the introduction in July of the largest economic and environmental refor m in a gener ation. The carbon tax challenge Elisa de Wit, environment and planning, and climate change lawyer for the global Norton Rose Group and leader of the Australian Climate Change practice, says the introduction of the carbon tax is set to bring environmental compliance into the mainstream of big business. “It is going to be moved up to CFO level and higher because of the financial implications if requirements aren’t met.” The Federal Government’s Clean Energy Legislative Package was passed on 8 November last year, and it is an issue on which the Australian Climate Change practice has been very much focused. “We have a very well- established planning and environment group that does a whole range of work for different clients and industry groups which involves getting the necessary approvals or helping them to comply with approvals,” says de Wit. With carbon credits under the umbrella of theCommonwealthCorporations Act 2001,financial regulatory conditions can now applytocertaintransactions. With the carbon price being applied through the supply chain, contractual obligations for many large compan ies have been under stringent rev iew. “The main issue is whether companies can pass on carbon costs. We have been doing a lot of contractual reviews to examine whether there is the ability
GRC Autumn 2012
GRC Spring 2012