Australia’s Carbon Credit Scheme Described As A ‘Catastrophe’ In New Research

Australia’s Carbon Credit Scheme Described As A ‘Catastrophe’ In New Research - Carbon Herald
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Australia’s carbon credit scheme, once hailed as a solution to offset emissions, now faces severe criticism following recent research findings labeling it a “catastrophe,” Indian English-language daily The Hindu reported Wednesday.

Initially envisioned to convert territories across the vast Outback dessert into carbon sinks through reforestation efforts, the reality has fallen far short of expectations.

With nearly 42 million hectares (103 million acres), an area larger than Japan, the scheme is considered one of the world’s largest natural carbon offset projects.

The ambitious reforestation project aimed to utilize native forests to absorb carbon emissions, yet studies reveal that nearly 80% of these designated areas show minimal to no growth, with some even experiencing woodland shrinkage.

Speaking to AFP, lead researcher Andrew Macintosh bluntly describes the outcome as a “gross failure,” questioning the validity of the millions of tons of carbon credits issued based on questionable forest performance.

Despite claims of significant carbon absorption, more than 27 million tons since 2013, satellite imagery used in the study challenges these assertions, highlighting the absence of substantial tree cover increases.

This discrepancy underscores the fundamental issue: Australia’s carbon credit system is effectively trading non-existent credits, Macintosh emphasized.

Relevant: Australia Cancels 700 Million Metric Tons Kyoto-Era CO2 Credits

While Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator defends the scheme’s integrity, the gap between perception and reality remains stark.

Climate Minister Chris Bowen maintains that the scheme’s fundamentals are “basically sound,” but the research findings raise doubts about its efficacy and transparency.

Australia’s complex relationship with climate policy is further complicated by its reliance on gas and thermal coal exports, despite growing vulnerability to climate-related disasters.

This disconnect underscores the broader challenges in transitioning towards a low-carbon economy.

Published in Communications Earth & Environment, an open-access scientific journal part of the renowned Nature Portfolio, just a few days ago, the peer-reviewed research sheds light on the urgency of addressing flaws in Australia’s carbon offset initiatives.

With commitments to reduce emissions by 43% by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, Australia faces significant hurdles in meeting its climate targets.

The country’s per capita carbon emissions, among the highest globally, underscore the pressing need for robust and effective climate action.

Read more: Net Zero Australia Publishes Key Findings On The Country’s Decarbonization

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