Australian carbon emissions are once again under the spotlight as a new report sheds light on the actual change in the country’s carbon footprint by the end of the decade. A report, commissioned by Solutions for Climate Australia, found the LNG industry’s emissions are poised to increase by 36% from 2021 levels by 2030 instead of only 20% according to the announced government projections.
The report concludes that the Australian government has substantially underestimated the projected emissions from existing coal mines and liquefied natural gas (LNG) development and instead of being driven down, they are set to soar based on publicly announced expansions.
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The report titled: “Emissions as usual: Implications for the Safeguard Mechanism of LNG and coal mine projects” is published on Feb 27th, 2023.
It also states that coal mine emissions which the government expects to decline by 10% by 2030, are going to rise between 23% to 116% over that period.
All emissions from existing and committed LNG projects and all committed and publicly announced expansions of coal projects should lead to emissions rising to 83-112 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) per year in 2030. The upper range would also bring them above the 100 MtCO2e baseline target set for all facilities under the proposed reform of the Safeguard Mechanism that was revamped on January 10th, 2023 by the government.
It has also previously announced the need for an increase of carbon offsets that should help meet the targets of the Safeguard Mechanism. It sees the amount of the required Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) spiking by 20% due to Safeguard Mechanism emitters’ demand in 2030.
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However, the report calculates that if current, committed and announced coal and LNG projects want to meet their abatement task using ACCUs, this would add up to a range of 73-259 million metric tons of credits. The lowest scenario for pollution of 73 million metric tons met by offsets is almost double the government’s projected 20% increase.
The new report acts as an eye-opener on how government-announced climate policies and ambitions are still far from realizing the actual emissions reductions the world needs to limit the worst consequences of climate change. A much faster expansion of renewables energy capacity, faster innovation in large-scale energy storage technologies coupled simultaneously with uncompromised retirement schedules of coal plants and major emitting sources needs to happen if governments are serious about climate change mitigation.