Australia Will Rely On Carbon Credits & Offsets To Meet Climate Goals
Author: Steve Hanley
The safeguard mechanism was designed by the Coalition under Tony Abbott to put a limit on emissions from the country’s biggest industrial sites. It covers 215 sites that each emit more than 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. Together they produce 28% of Australia’s emissions. Half are fossil fuel operations — gas extraction sites, liquified natural gas processing plants, and coalmines. Each big polluting facility was given an emissions limit — known as a baseline — that was determined by historic output. But with few exceptions the baselines were not enforced, The Guardian reports, and polluters were allowed to increase their limits. A bunch of new polluters opened — including several big emitting LNG plants — adding to national pollution. As a result, industrial emissions increased significantly. Bowen has released a proposal under which polluters will be given new baselines at levels that better reflect emissions. In most cases companies will be required to cut emissions intensity by 4.9% a year. They can choose how much happens onsite and how much comes from buying offsets. Those offsets — known as Australian carbon credit units — allow companies to pay for cheaper emission reductions elsewhere. But the government’s proposal to allow fossil fuel developers to buy an unlimited number of offsets while continuing to emit is highly unpopular with the Greens.