Australia’s largest carbon credits generator joins calls for emissions offset scheme reform | carbon offset


Australia’s largest generator of carbon credits has joined critics in calling for renewed system governance, saying it has “fundamental problems”.

GreenCollar, which describes itself as the nation’s largest investor in environmental markets, natural resources director and conservation for profit, is presenting a joint bid for a government review of the carbon credit system with academics including Professor Andrew Macintosh, who used to be responsible for the integrity of the scheme.

The submission stresses that they do not agree on all points and support the use of carbon offsets to help “timely transition to a low-carbon economy”. But they both believe the scheme needs reform to better measure how much carbon dioxide is being pulled from the atmosphere and stored in vegetation, and to better manage the system overseen by the clean energy regulator.

It is the largest intervention to date by a major player in the carbon credit market that supports calls for change in how it operates. It follows many companies that run projects to reduce emissions from landfill sites Support for analysis by Macintosh and colleagues That the system was generating meaningless credits and led to increased emissions.

Carbon credits are used by the government and polluting companies as an alternative to cutting carbon dioxide emissions.

Instead of reducing their own pollution, they can choose to buy carbon credits that are meant to represent a reduction in emissions elsewhere.

Each carbon credit represents one tonne of carbon dioxide that has either been stopped from going in the atmosphere, or sucked out of it.

Methods approved to generate carbon credits in Australia include regenerating native forest that has been cleared, protecting a forest that would otherwise have been cleared (known as “avoided deforestation”) and capturing and using emissions that leak from landfill sites to generate electricity.

Credits are bought by the government through the $4.5bn taxpayer-funded emissions reduction scheme or by polluters on the private market. 

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Question and Answer

What are carbon credits?

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The government and polluting companies use carbon credits as an alternative to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Instead of reducing their own pollution, they can choose to buy carbon credits that are supposed to represent a reduction in emissions elsewhere.

Each carbon credit represents one ton of carbon dioxide that has either been prevented from going into or absorbed from the atmosphere.

Approved methods for generating carbon credits in Australia include regenerating native forests that have been cleared, protecting a forest that would otherwise be cleared (known as “avoiding deforestation”) and capturing and using emissions that escape from landfill sites to generate electricity.

The credits are purchased by the government through the $4.5 billion taxpayer-financed emissions reduction plan or by private market polluters.

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The growing carbon credit market, MacIntosh, a professor of environmental law and policy and former chair of the government’s Emission Reductions Guarantee Committee, said in March. ‘Very fake’ and defrauding taxpayers and the environment, as regulatory failures mean up to 80% of approved credits may not represent real or new emissions reductions.

GreenCollar CEO James Schultz said the company disagrees, but has long called for changes to bolster the scheme. He said he was confident his company’s projects to replant native forests in cleared areas lead to real emissions reductions, but that there are scaling and integrity issues that need to be addressed.

“We agreed with a lot of the criticism and we’ve been on the record for most of these things before,” he said. “We don’t agree with all of that, but we do agree with a lot.”

The joint submission said both parties have deep experience in carbon markets and the environment and support the use of carbon offsets, preferably in conjunction with an effective carbon pricing scheme. Both said land-based projects could have environmental and social benefits, including improving biodiversity and employment in regional areas.

But they identified three “core problems”.

First, they said the legislation overseeing carbon credits, which has been relaxed under the coalition, does not guarantee that all methods used to create carbon offsets meet high integrity standards.

Second, the parties said that the clean energy regulator has many and potentially conflicting roles, and called for its powers to be given to other agencies to advise the government and prepare the methods by which carbon credits were created.

Third, they said that the model used to estimate the amount of carbon dioxide stored in renewable forests has not been calibrated for use in areas that already have large amounts of vegetation and could lead to an overestimation of emissions reductions.

GreenCollar said this can be addressed by excluding areas with more than 5% maximum vegetation and using direct measurement, not modeling. The academics said direct measurement would be better, but said doing so would be “difficult and risky” in a way that ensures growth is due to changes in management and not just rainfall. It would be better, they said, to restore uncleared pastures through biodiversity markets and direct payments for land stewardship, not carbon credits.

Macintosh said the joint statement “reflected very well” on GreenCollar, and, following the statement from major landfill gas project owners, was the latest in a string of big players who “have the courage and personality” to publicly acknowledge the need for change. He said that reflected “very badly” on the clean energy regulator and the Emissions Reduction Guarantee Committee.

“There is no excuse now for the government not to take action,” he said. “We know that there are many other market participants and scientists who agree with what we are saying and what GreenCollar is saying now. Now is the time for them to make their voices heard in calls for change.”

The Minister for Climate Change, Chris Bowen, said carbon credits are essential to reduce emissions and appointed former chief scientist, Professor Ian Chubb, To supervise the review of the system.

The clean energy regulator rejected the criticism. in Statement in JuneMcIntosh and his colleagues, the regulator and the Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee said, failed to provide strong evidence of a lack of integrity in the system and — where specific areas of land where carbon credit projects have been implemented due to legal constraints cannot be released — relied in their analysis on an incomplete data set. .

Chubb is due to return his report by the end of the year.


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