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Monday, January 9, 2023

Chubb Review into the integrity of Australian Carbon Offsets sends mixed messages

Chubb review into the integrity of carbon offsets ignores the elephant in the room argues the Climate Council: too many major emitters are buying ACCUs so that they can continue to pollute as usual.

“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?" says Climate Council Head of Advocacy Dr Jennifer Rayner

“Big polluters shouldn’t be able to keep polluting as usual by offsetting much or all of their emissions under the Safeguard Mechanism."

The Chubb Review found the carbon offsets scheme was "fundamentally" well designed when it was first introduced, but called for more data transparency which would improve integrity, recommending that "the default should be that data be made public, including carbon estimation areas" and the government should consider a national platform to share this information.

"More transparent data and information sharing arrangements would enable communities and carbon market stakeholders to assess, understand and manage potential project impacts and opportunities more effectively" it said.

Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen welcomed the report, said the government had accepted in principle all of its recommendations

Andrew Macintosh who blew the whistle on the scheme, said "On the one hand, the panel has found there's a need to fight for sweeping governance changes. On the other hand, they're saying the projects and credits are largely fine."

Prof Andrew MacIntosh explained the problems with Chubb Review in an article at The Conversation which I briefly summarise as:

­čî│report does not contain references to evidence relied upon to reach conclusions, 

­čî│includes very little analysis to support findings.

­čî│does not address key questions around integrity of scheme’s rules.

­čî│does not refer to findings of a review it commissioned from the Australian Academy of Science.

The Guardian in its report on the Chubb Review of carbon offsets scheme, said that "The extent to which credits should be made available to help meet government and corporate emissions reduction targets is contested. A UN group set up to crack down on the greenwashing of net zero pledges last year argued commitments must prioritise cuts in absolute emissions by 2030 in line with limiting global heating to 1.5C, with offsets to be used only for further reductions above and beyond that."

You can read that UN report on net-zero targets and Greenwashing and using carbon offsets as last resort from my blog post: Addressing Greenwashing and net-zero pledges at non-state levels: New report by UN Expert group at COP27  

The Australian Conservation Foundation was also critical of the Chubb Review:

“ACF welcomes structural changes to the regulator and the inclusion of an integrity commission but the governance remains murky,” CEO Kelly O’Shanassy said.

“It is essential that the new integrity commission is fully independent and prohibits the appointment of people who have ties to the carbon credit industry.  

“ACF welcomes the move to prohibit new credits under the deeply flawed ‘avoided deforestation’ method but further assessment of existing projects is needed.

“The carbon credits previously approved under this method, which is one in five credits issued under the Emission Reduction Fund, do not represent real abatement and are essentially junk credits.

“The Clean Energy Regulator should now commit to an audit of these projects which we fear are not producing real-world carbon abatement.

“It is essential that projects are assessed in real-life – not just on paper as per the Chubb review.  

“If the Australian Government is serious about slashing carbon emissions, then it needs to critically address the problems on the ground.

“Carbon credits can play a small role in reducing Australia’s pollution but we can’t offset our way to net-zero.

“Offsets should only be used by hard to abate sectors after exhausting options to avoid, minimise, and mitigate emissions.

“The best way to slash emissions is to stop new coal and gas – not offset the pollution from these sectors - and prioritise a fast and fair transition to renewable energy.”  

Carbon offsets loom large as the Federal Government moves to implement the Safeguard mechanism for limiting corporate greenhouse gas emissions.

The Climate Council has callied 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. 


Climate Citizen: Carbon Credits & Offsets | Honest Government Ad (April 2022)


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