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He and his colleagues have published a series of papers outlining systemic flaws in the ERF and the way it issues Australian carbon credits (ACCUs). They have labelled the ERF an “environmental and taxpayer fraud”.
Professor Macintosh said the ERF is dominated by three types of projects: avoided deforestation in western New South Wales (NSW); human-induced regeneration of native forests in the dry rangelands of Queensland, NSW, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory; and the combustion of methane from landfills. These projects account for approximately 75 per cent of ACCUs issued.
“The available data suggests 70 to 80 per cent of the ACCUs issued to these projects are devoid of integrity – they do not represent real and additional abatement,” Professor Macintosh said.
“Unfortunately, Australia’s carbon market currently suffers from a distinct lack of environmental integrity.
“All of the major emission reduction methods have serious integrity issues, either in their design or the way they are being administered.
“People are getting ACCUs for not clearing forests that were never going to be cleared; they are getting credits for growing trees that are already there; they are getting credits for growing forests in places that will never sustain permanent forests; and they are getting credits for operating electricity generators at large landfills that would have operated anyway.
“What is occurring is a fraud on the environment, a fraud on taxpayers and a fraud on unwitting private buyers of ACCUs, including private households who purchase ACCUs to offset their personal emissions.”
The ERF is administered by the Clean Energy Regulator, which has $4.5 billion to spend on ACCUs.
“The Clean Energy Regulator has already spent $1 billion on purchasing ACCUs and has contracts to purchase a further $1.6 billion,” Professor Macintosh said.
“By issuing ACCUs for these low integrity abatement projects, the regulator is throwing good money after bad and undermining Australia’s ability to meet its long-term emission reduction targets.” – ANU media release, 24 March 2022, Australia’s carbon market a “fraud on the environment” https://www.anu.edu.au/news/all-news/australia%E2%80%99s-carbon-market-a-%E2%80%9Cfraud-on-the-environment%E2%80%9D
- The Guardian, 23 March 2022, Australia’s carbon credit scheme ‘largely a sham’, says whistleblower who tried to rein it in https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/mar/23/australias-carbon-credit-scheme-largely-a-sham-says-whistleblower-who-tried-to-rein-it-in
- ABC 730 Report, Wed 23 Mar 2022, 8:29pm, Questions raised about the integrity of carbon offset schemes https://www.abc.net.au/7.30/questions-raised-about-the-integrity-of-carbon/13809550
- Renew Economy, Michael Mazengarb 24 March 2022, Greens refer carbon scheme to watchdog after whistleblower labels offsets “fraud to the environment” https://reneweconomy.com.au/a-fraud-on-the-environment-whistleblower-slams-australias-carbon-offset-regime/
- Australia Institute, MEDIA RELEASE, March 25, 2022, Carbon Offset Regulators Dominated by Oil and Gas Industry: FOI Documents https://australiainstitute.org.au/post/carbon-offset-regulators-dominated-by-oil-and-gas-industry-foi-documents/
- Australia Institute, Elizabeth Morison, 31 March, 2022, Environment and Biodiversity Offsets https://australiainstitute.org.au/post/environment-and-biodiversity-offsets/