The Australian Government will establish a new agency with a role that includes assessing greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel developments, but their plans have “a massive blind spot”, the Climate Council says.
Under changes announced today, the new Environment Protection Agency will assess Scope 1 and 2 emissions from new projects. While this is a positive reform, Scope 3 emissions (emissions from fossil fuels exported and burned overseas) will not be taken into account.
In essence, under the government’s proposal, it appears possible for a new coal mine or gas project to be approved if the company uses solar power and electric vehicles in its operation – despite the massive emissions impact of that coal or gas being burned offshore.
The International Energy Agency and other expert bodies have been clear that countries cannot open any new fossil fuel projects if we are to have a chance of holding global warming below catastrophic levels.
Fossil fuel exports are Australia’s biggest contribution to the climate crisis. Emissions from Australian coal and gas burned in other countries are more than double our domestic emissions.
Climate Council Director of Research Dr Simon Bradshaw said:
“This is the first time harmful greenhouse gases must be explicitly considered under Federal environmental law, but it doesn’t account for the impact of Australian fossil fuels burned overseas. This is a major oversight.
“Any new coal and gas projects opened in Australia will contribute to even more severe disasters and ultimately increase the burden communities and ecosystems are already facing as they get slammed time and time again. That’s the bottom line.
“The Albanese Government says it’s committed to driving down emissions, so why not account for the major contribution to global emissions Australian coal and gas causes? It seems incongruous.
“So the test for this term is how the Albanese Government ensures harmful emissions are fully assessed and regulated for major project proposals. For coal and gas which are fuelling the climate crisis, that means assessing emissions at every point from their extraction through to use.
“Australia needs to throw everything we’ve got at tackling the climate crisis. That means we cannot leave this major gap for new fossil fuel projects to waltz on through.
For interviews please contact Zerene Catacutan 0438 972 260 Zerene.Catacutan@climatecouncil.org.au
The Climate Council is Australia’s leading community-funded climate change communications organisation. It was founded through community donations in 2013, immediately after the then-Abbott Government dismantled the Climate Commission. We provide authoritative, expert and evidence-based advice on climate change to journalists, policymakers, and the wider Australian community. For further information, go to: climatecouncil.org.au Or follow us on social media: facebook.com/climatecouncil and twitter.com/climatecouncil