Stoush on carbon credit ‘fraud’ escalates
Australian carbon credits are not a “fraud”, a review of claims made by a whistleblower has revealed.
But former insider Andrew Macintosh and a group of fellow academics support research that challenges three-quarters of the credits issued under the federal $2.5 billion emissions reduction program.
“Absolutely, we do,” Professor Macintosh told AAP.
The clean energy regulator has launched a review of claims about how carbon credits are approved and earned, and released the findings on Wednesday.
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An independent panel concluded the allegations were “unsubstantiated” and said “there were serious flaws in the analysis”.
The statement posted online also rejected the “outlandish language” used by Professor Macintosh.
The academic, who once headed the integrity committee tasked with reviewing approved methods under the fund, called on the regulator to release scientific data to back up its own emissions reduction claims.
“Their defensiveness and obfuscation is deeply concerning,” he said.
The leading specialist in environmental law and policy at the Australian National University also wants a review by a “suitably qualified expert”.
Industry can purchase the credits, earned and issued through federally approved carbon projects, to offset emissions from business activities.
Speculators can also buy them as financial products.
Earlier this year, Professor Macintosh published research indicating that many credits do not represent new or real emissions reductions, and that key emission reduction methods are flawed in their design or the way they are administered. .
He said the credits were “a fraud on the environment, a fraud on taxpayers and a fraud on unwitting private buyers”.
He and fellow academics have rejected the so-called human-induced method of regeneration – which stores carbon in regenerated native forests to earn credits – and questioned the integrity of landfill gas projects. .
The review by the Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee found that the existing compliance mechanisms are working and that the methods questioned meet the standards of integrity set out in Commonwealth legislation.
The regulator said the claims had been carefully reviewed by the independent committee to ensure the integrity of the methods used to reduce carbon emissions.
“The claims regarding the human-induced regeneration method did not present strong evidence of a lack of integrity or excessive credit,” the review found.
Professor Macintosh said the statement on human-induced regeneration released by the committee and regulator on Wednesday was “professionally inconvenient” and an “indictment of both bodies”.
He hopes federal Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen will honor a pre-election commitment to a review.
“The proposed revision of the ERF must explore the behavior and culture of both organs,” said the academic.
The review found “serious flaws” in the analysis of the landfill gas method.
“No basis” was found for the accusation that such projects are profitable without the need for credits, the review found.
But the professor said the regulator had refused to release the data used to support the method.
“It’s a $500 million decision.”