A new expert analysis reveals operational emissions produced from the eight major fossil fuel projects approved by the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) since the authority was created will total nearly 90 million tonnes.
This is the same amount the NSW Government's Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap is expected to abate between now and 2030.
The report, written by Griffith University Emeritus Professor Ian Lowe, ultimately finds the Commission has “comprehensively failed to require mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions."
Professor Lowe finds that, based on the most generous overall assessment, the IPC has only implemented conditions that could lead to the abatement of 7.7 million tonnes out of a total of 1,387 million tonnes of all greenhouse emissions from the eight projects (Scope 1, 2 & 3).
While downstream (Scope 3) emissions constitute the lion’s share of greenhouse gases to be released from the eight projects, the report demonstrates that nearly 90Mt of operational emissions (Scope 1 & 2) will also occur as direct emissions of methane and carbon dioxide at mining operations and emissions arising indirectly from electricity use.
The report states: “Even if it were considered acceptable to overlook the huge contribution to climate change of Scope 3 emissions from these projects, the Scope 1 and 2 emissions add up to 89 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent; that is nearly 20 per cent of Australia’s total national emissions last year. Reducing or, ideally, eliminating those emissions would be a significant contribution to our obligation to help slow climate change."
Consideration of conditions to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions is a requirement of all IPC decisions about coal mining and coal seam gas projects in New South Wales.
However Professor Lowe’s report shows the IPC has recommended a hodgepodge of vague, mostly unenforceable, conditions that have done little or nothing to abate operational emissions despite measures being available to prevent them.