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Safeguard Mechanism reform’s reliance on offsets no way to solve climate change

Planned reforms to the Safeguard Mechanism, revealed today, do not go far enough to reduce emissions created by big coal and gas companies, says Lock the Gate Alliance.

While LTGA welcomes the government’s decision not to include international carbon offsets as part of the initial safeguard mechanism reforms, the draft report flags they are likely to be considered in the near future.

The Alliance is also concerned by the draft Safeguard Mechanism’s general and heavy reliance on domestic offsets.

“The use of carbon offsets should be an absolute last resort, not a get out of jail free card so big polluters can keep polluting. Offsets should only be made available to deal with residual emissions after all options for direct, actual emissions reduction have been exhausted,” said Lock the Gate Alliance National Coordinator Ellen Roberts.

“Turning to offsets too early distracts attention and resources from investing in changes to avoid greenhouse gas pollution, delaying actual climate action. Serious questions remain about the integrity of carbon offsets.

“It's hard to see why coal and gas companies would introduce expensive but genuine emissions reduction strategies when they could just buy essentially unlimited carbon credits.

“International carbon offsets are particularly problematic because their integrity is even more difficult to verify than that of domestic carbon credits. We strongly urge the Albanese Government not to introduce international carbon credits into the Safeguard Mechanism at any stage.”

“Fossil fuel companies have had a free ride under federal Australian climate policy for at least a decade. The Safeguard Mechanism hasn't worked to date in part because of loopholes allowing fossil fuel companies to change their emissions baselines. By opening the door to differential treatment for emissions-intensive, trade-exposed (EITE) facilities, these reforms fail to close those loopholes. 

“Treating these industries leniently because they’re trade exposed will merely delay essential emissions reductions or, given we now have a legislated climate target, unfairly shift more of the burden in meeting that target onto other sectors. 

“Climate change is caused by the overall accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, not the annual amount of pollution emitted. We are already approaching multiple extremely dangerous climate tipping points. There is no more time to waste.”


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