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Labor: Would you please explain your climate actions?

Updated: Jan 2



The Australian Federal Government’s approach to reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions is baffling...


Whilst they say they want to significantly reduce Australia’s greenhouse emissions, they are busy approving new fossil fuel projects. The Labor government seems to do one thing and then act in the opposite direction. At Ecoprofit we are asking constituents of Federal electorates held by Labor representatives to send a letter to their local member for an explanation of Labor’s contradictory actions.


Below is a suggested letter that could be titled: “Labor: would you please explain your climate actions”. Suggested content is as follows:

 

“Last year the Australian government orchestrated the legislation of the Climate Change Act, enshrining into law Australia’s carbon reduction target of 43% from 2005 levels by 2030. In contrast to this, since winning the Australian federal election in May last year, the Albanese government has approved the following fossil fuel projects:

  • 30 August 2023: Approved the expansion of the Gregory Crinum Coal Mine in central Queensland for 11 years. Gregory Crinum is owned by Australian miner Sojitz Blue.

  • 29 June 2023: Approved the nine-year extension of the Ensham thermal coal mine, owned by Japanese fossil fuel giant Idemitsu Kosan.

  • 23 June 2023: Decided that the proposed Star coal mine did not require environmental approval, and could proceed as planned.

  • 30 May 2023: Approved the Isaac River Coal Mine Project, owned by Bowen Coking Coal.

  • 12 February 2023: Approved Santo’s Towrie Gas Development (i.e. FRACKING project).

  • 10 February 2023: Approved Santos’ Dorado Development in the Bedout basin. Dorado will be designed for liquid handling rates of 100 thousand standard barrels per day (KSTB/d) and gas reinjection capacity of 235 million standard cubic feet per day (MMscf/d) over 20 years.

  • 6 January 2023: Extending the life of the Lake Vermont open-cut coalmine, owned by Jellinbah Group, until 2063.

  • 27 June 2022: Approved Santos’ ‘Van Gogh’ Petroleum Field Development project.

Only last week, and not long after the planet’s hottest ever recorded week, the Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek approved her sixth coal mine or coal project. It was with no fanfare.

This is not counting projects approved by state and territory governments that are not referred for Federal government approval; projects for which Plibersek has powers to intervene (including the Beetaloo Basin fracking project).


There were no press releases to announce these things, and it appears she is too sheepish to agree to an interview where the inevitable first question would go to the heart of the matter: how an environment minister can stamp her imprimatur on a slew of projects which damage the environment.


Question one for representative: Why are so many new fossil fuel projects being approved?


Meantime, former Fire and Rescue NSW commissioner Greg Mullins and founding member of Emergency Leaders for Climate Action, has delivered a briefing to the cross bench about the upcoming fire season, which is expected to be horrific.


‘Selling our coal [and] opening new coalmines, to me, is incomprehensible,’ he said, of Labor’s baffling decision to keep approving coalmines despite accepting the science of global warming. ‘It’s a bit like saying ‘look, I’m off the drugs … but I have to sell drugs to my mates to maintain my lifestyle’,” he added, noting that Australia had an “addiction” to fossil fuels.


Mullins’ comments came in the midst of Minerals Week, in which both the prime minister and the opposition leader fawned over the resources sector. Speaking at an event, Peter Dutton told the industry it was terribly hard done by. ‘The mining sector has found itself increasingly in the crosshairs of environmental extremists and far left politicians advocating for socialist-style wealth redistribution.’ It is noted that Labor hasn’t disassociated itself from these comments.

Labor’s carbon reduction ambitions rely on the Safeguard Mechanism, supported by the ACCU Scheme carbon offset program. For financial years commencing on or after 1 July 2023, the Safeguard Mechanism requires facilities with more than 100,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per annum to reduce their emissions in line with Australia’s climate targets. Safeguard facility baselines will adjust with annual production, however it is planned that the overall emissions limits tighten each year in line with Australia’s climate targets.


If a Safeguard facility exceeds its baseline for a financial year commencing on or after 1 July 2023, a key way to manage their excess emissions, is by purchasing and surrendering carbon offsets called ACCUs. However, there are many questioning the efficacy of ACCUs. For instance, the article by Alan Kohler of July 2023 indicated that at least half of the ACCUs created to date are ineffectual in either removing carbon from the atmosphere or reducing emissions. Read the article here>.


Question: If the ACCU Scheme is being used to reduce Australia’s emissions, what is the government doing to ensure ineffective carbon offsets are unavailable under the scheme?


In conclusion, could you please explain to me what is going on with the Federal Government’s climate policy in the context of the matters raised above, and reply to the two questions (in bold) as to why so many fossil fuel approvals at a time of climate crisis and what is being done to improve the efficacy of the ACCU Scheme?


Your sincerely,


Constituent”


 

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