On 11 September 2020, amendments to the National Greenhouse Gas Emission Reporting Regulations were published, which include the identification of a new competent authority; the re-classification and re-registration of data providers; and provision for revised reporting, verification and validation methodologies.
The amendments to the National Greenhouse Gas Emission Reporting Regulations (Amended Regulations) seek to clean up and provide further clarity to the GHG reporting obligations and processes. The significant changes are highlighted below.
- The competent authority has been changed from the National Inventory Unit based at the National Department of Environmental Affairs to the unit responsible for Climate Change Monitoring and Evaluation at the Department responsible for environment.
- The previous classification of data providers (Categories A and B) has been removed, such that now any natural or juristic person in operational control of, or conducting, any activity that meets or exceeds the thresholds listed in Annexure 1 to the Amended Regulations is classified as a data provider for purposes of the Amended Regulations. The scope of who a data provider is remains extended to holding companies, subsidiaries and all facilities over which such data provider has operational control.
- Given the re-classification of data providers, the registration requirements imposed under regulation 5 have also been amended - A person classified as a data provider in terms of regulation 4(1) must register all facilities where activities exceed the thresholds listed in Annexure 1 by providing the relevant information as listed in Annexure 2 to these Regulations, within 30 days after the commencement of these Regulations (i.e. by 11 October 2020) or within 30 days after commencing such an activity after the commencement of these Regulations. It thus appears that all existing data providers will be required to re-register all facilities where activities exceed the Annexure 1 thresholds, given the re-classification to remove the distinction between Category A and Category B data providers. This is further supported by the revised Annexure 2 registration form, which now requires each facility to obtain a Facility ID, which is to be generated by the NAEIS.
- Data providers have now also been directed to a specific platform on the NAEIS, namely the greenhouse gas emissions reporting module within the NAEIS, for registration and reporting. Where previously, in cases where the NAEIS is unable to meet the registration or reporting requirements, same was required be done by submitting the information specified in Annexure 2 and Annexure 3, respectively, in an electronic format to the competent authority; now, such process can only be followed if the Minister issues a directive in the Government Gazette calling for registration or reporting outside the NAEIS.
- In terms of registration triggers: It has now been confirmed, by way of insertions to regulation 5, that:
- Whilst reporting shall be done at the facility level and also aggregated at data provider level, the threshold to trigger registration is applicable at data provider level.
- In a case where there are stationary combustion installations across a number of IPCC emission sources, the thresholds shall be considered across IPCC emission sources listed in Annexure 1 to these Regulations.
- In cases of standby generators: Registration is triggered by the applicable Annexure 1 thresholds and the registration should be done following the format prescribed in Annexure 5. Reporting should be done at data provider level where a standby generator is not associated to a facility, using relevant IPCC codes, and where a standby generator is already part of a facility (presumably, that has been registered) or supports the facility in cases of main supply failure, the associated emissions must be reported as per Annexure 3. Technical assessment and confirmation is likely to be required on the triggers pertaining to each of these reporting scenarios.
- A data provider must submit IPCC emission sources and related GHG emissions and activity data as specified in Annexure 1 to these Regulations, for all of the relevant greenhouse gases and for each of its facilities and in accordance with the data and format requirements specified in Annexure 3 to these Regulations, for the preceding calendar year, to the competent authority by 31 March of each year (it is noted that the reporting period has not changed). The previous requirement to submit the greenhouse gas emissions and activity data "as set out in the Technical Guidelines for Monitoring, Reporting and Verification of Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Industry" for each of the relevant greenhouse gases and IPCC emission sources has been removed. Reference to the Technical Guidelines for Monitoring, Reporting and Verification of Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Industry has been replaced generally by reference to "the latest version of the Methodological Guidelines for Quantification of Greenhouse Gas Emissions" in order to allow for future amendments to the guidelines. This accords with the Ministers intention, notified on 24 August 2020, to publish revised Technical Guidelines for Validation and Verification of Greenhouse Gas Emissions under the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act 39 of 2004. In addition, regulation 7(3) now specifies that this reporting must be done at both data provider level and at facility level.
- Reported data must now meet the quality assurance principles of transparency, completeness, accuracy, comparability, consistency and adherence to the latest version of the Methodological Guidelines for Quantification of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (whereas previously, only transparency, completeness and correctness were assessed). The competent authority is required to validate the data submitted by a data provider within 60 days after the submission date, and must, if the information is reasonably believed to not meet these principles, issue an instruction to the data provider to validate the information submitted. An instruction to validate the information issued by the competent authority must now also be complied with by the data provider within 30 days (as opposed to 60 days previously), and must be followed by a verification report within 90 days.
- In terms of the transitional arrangements, it is now expressly stated that at the end of the transitional period (being five years from the commencement of the original Regulations), a data provider must use a higher tier method prescribed for the activities listed in Annexure 1 to these Regulations and the supporting latest version of the Methodological Guidelines for Quantification of Greenhouse Gas Emissions.
- The list of offences has been extended to include a wider scope of the Regulations, and includes the failure to register in accordance with the re-classification of data providers by 11 October 2020.
- Revised Annexures 1 (List of activities for which GHG emissions must be reported to the competent authority), 2 (Registration as a data provider and of facilities), 3 (Annual reporting) and 4 (Information to accompany submission in terms of regulation 10(2)), and a new Annexure 5 (Registration of standby generators) have been inserted. In terms of revised Annexure 1, a new reporting category/activity includes 1A2n Manufacture of ceramic products by firing in particular roofing tiles, tiles, stoneware or porcelain; and various thresholds have been amended (such as the brick manufacturing sector having a reduced threshold of 1 million bricks per month).