NT offsets scheme set to fail: Protect Country Alliance

Published: February 12, 2020

Protect Country Alliance has slammed the Gunner Government’s draft NT Offsets Policy, labeling it a farce while MPs are actively promoting and pursuing a massive polluting fracking industry in the Territory.

According to the Alliance’s analysis, the offsets policy is vague, mixes biodiversity offsets with greenhouse gas offsets, and does not offer any assurance that damaging fracking projects won’t lead to serious pollution events.

“Fracking the Beetaloo Basin has the potential to unleash a carbon bomb equivalent to the commissioning of more than  50 coal fired power stations,” said Protect Country Alliance spokesperson Graeme Sawyer.

“It is doubtful that offsetting this is feasible for the nation, let alone the NT, given the scope of the emissions that would be produced from fracking the Beetaloo.

“The emissions produced cannot be offset by preserving a patch of bush here or there, as the Gunner Government would have the public believe.

“Offsets are a last resort in the process of managing impacts of resource projects and as such are not legitimately considered as an operational justification for a polluting process."

Mr Sawyer said once again, it appeared this policy was designed to appease the fracking companies rather than serve any sort of public benefit, and it was not in line with Pepper Inquiry recommendations.

“The Pepper Inquiry was explicit in ensuring fracking companies paid to offset the pollution they caused,” he said.

“But the lack of rigour and detail in the NT Government’s draft policy suggests the fracking companies will be jumping for joy if it is approved in its current form.

“It would mean fracking companies could weasel out of the accounting required as well as the upfront costs to offset the expected pollution associated with fracking the Beetaloo.”

Climate change expert and researcher at the Australian National University Professor Will Steffen said that there was a more fundamental reason the development could not go ahead under any circumstances.

“We simply cannot open up any new fossil fuel developments, including Beetaloo unconventional gas, and have any chance of meeting the Paris targets, irrespective of where the fuels are ultimately burnt and irrespective of any proposed ‘offsets’,” he said.

“That is, all proposed new fossil fuel developments must be rejected if the world has a hope of meeting its Paris Agreement targets."

Submissions on the draft offsets policy are due on Friday 14 February.

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