Companies belching greenhouse gases will have to start keeping track of their emissions today under the Federal government's mandatory emissions reporting scheme, causing analysts to predict a renaissance in emissions monitoring software.
Businesses emitting over 125 kilotonnes of greenhouse gases annually, or producing or consuming 500 terajoules of energy will have to collect data so they can later compile reports on their emissions under the scheme.
Businesses will be required to enter data using Online System for Comprehensive Activity Reporting (OSCAR), a Web-based reporting tool, which is currently not ready for use. However, a spreadsheet is available, which is "fully uploadable" into OSCAR, according to a spokesperson for the Department of Climate Change.
Corporations will be required to register for the scheme on or before 31 August, 2009, and must submit their first greenhouse energy report on or before 31 October, 2009.
"This new system will play an important role by more precisely quantifying the greenhouse gases Australia produces. It will also, for the first time, provide robust and comparable information to the public on the greenhouse and energy profiles of Australia's large corporations," Minister for Climate Change Penny Wong said in a statement.
Business won't be caught in last-minute stress, according to a spokesperson for the Department of Climate Change: "Most of the corporations covered by this will already have the system in place to collect data."
For those companies that are not sure whether they need to collect data, the Department of Climate Change has developed an online calculator to help them work out whether the system applies to them.
There will also be guidance for those battling with OSCAR.
Companies looking to meet this and other reporting requirements will be looking to green accounting solutions such as CarbonView to capture their footprint, according to Bruce McCabe, MD of research firm S2 Intelligence, who predicts there will be 10 times the number of these products on the market at the end of this year.
Companies are "just now waking up to the opportunities", he said. "They're realising: Oh my god, there is actually a good opportunity."
The market will be worth US$595 billion worldwide by 2015 according to earlier figures from McCabe, who says that although mainly big business is walking the walk now, small business will also jump in after a few years.
The reporting system that starts today will gather information to be used in the emissions trading scheme, which starts in 2010. A tender went out in June for an emissions trading registry — a database which will keep track of trading units until the trading scheme gets underway.