The Federal Government’s appointment of respected former Chief Scientist Ian Chubb as chair of the independent review into Australia’s $4.5b carbon credits scheme, and the broad scope of the review, has been welcomed by policy experts at the Australia Institute.
“Integrity must sit at the heart of Australia’s climate policies. The review is welcome and critical to ensure any climate target legislated by the Australian Parliament is met credibly,” said Richie Merzian, Director of the Climate & Energy Program at leading public policy think-tank the Australia Institute.
“The appointment of respected former Chief Scientist Ian Chubb AO as the review chair demonstrates a clear commitment from the federal government to investigate the serious integrity concerns that are eroding confidence in Australia’s carbon market.
“Importantly, this review will extend to the governance arrangements of the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF). This should include the many roles of the Clean Energy Regulator which co-designs the methods, regulates the market and purchases most of the carbon credits and the associated Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee.
“Carbon credits with integrity can play a role in Australia’s net zero future, but dodgy credits that are not additional or real abatement are effectively a licence to pollute and are only further fuelling climate change.
“To be a legitimate climate policy the ERF must do as its name suggests: reduce emissions. At least $1.5 billion in public funds have been committed to purchasing carbon credits that could be hot air – that is not representing real or additional cuts in emissions.
“The review of Australia’s the ERF is occurring as the international scrutiny on offsets and their use by the private sector is gaining momentum, including at the UN level with the establishment of the High-level Expert Group on the Net-Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities.
“ERF methods are also being exported to Australia’s neighbours under the Indo-Pacific Carbon Offsets Scheme (IPCOS), which should be paused until the completion of the ERF review.”
Australia Institute research has previously revealed how poor regulation and industry influence undermined the effectiveness of the Emissions Reduction Fund, and has long called for a comprehensive, independent review.