TO TACKLE HARMFUL climate change, Australia must genuinely cut emissions. The Climate Council says carbon offsets examined by the Chubb Review, released today, cannot be a substitute for avoiding and reducing harmful emissions.
In focusing on the governance, creation methods and reporting arrangements for Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs), the Chubb Review may have met its brief but ignores the elephant in the room: too many major emitters are buying ACCUs so that they can continue to pollute as usual.
Carbon offsets are supposed to be used as a last resort, and only for the small share of emissions that cannot be avoided through process, technology and other operational changes.
Instead, paying for ACCUs has become the first and only thing many businesses are doing about their harmful emissions. As the Australian Government prepares to strengthen the law that regulates emissions from Australia’s biggest industrial polluters, the Safeguard Mechanism, this must change.
Climate Council Head of Advocacy Dr Jennifer Rayner said: “Cheap and easy offsets on paper do little to tackle the climate crisis, which is already harming Australians through worsening extreme weather, floods and fires. The only lasting solution is genuine and deep cuts in emissions.
“The Chubb Review has provided some positive recommendations for improving the integrity and transparency of carbon credits. But the most important question is: where and how will carbon credits be used?
“Big polluters shouldn’t be able to keep polluting as usual by offsetting much or all of their emissions under the Safeguard Mechanism. This will simply result in more pollution as usual and worsening climate damage. For the Safeguard Mechanism to work, and drive down emissions, there must be tight restrictions on the use of offsets.”
The Climate Council is calling for strong reform of the Safeguard Mechanism including:
- A limit on the amount of emissions which can be offset by facilities, to ensure major industrial polluters genuinely reduce their emissions.
- Setting genuine limits (baselines) for businesses that result in the need for substantial declines in emissions out to 2030, and which remove all excess ‘headroom’ provided by the former Liberal Government.
- No special deals for any fossil fuel facilities, including new coal and gas facilities.
“Getting the Safeguard Mechanism right is critical for delivering the deep emissions cuts Australia needs this decade to avoid the worst impacts of harmful climate change,” said Dr Rayner.
“The Chubb Review should not be used as a licence for pollution as usual from Australia’s biggest emitters. We need real action now to cut emissions, not more cheap offsets on paper.”
For interviews please contact Jane Gardner on 0438 130 905 or Vai Shah on 0452 290 082.