The Morrison Government’s signature climate change policy allowed BHP to increase emissions from its mines, then calculate new, laxer pollution baselines, analysis shows.
The Australian Conservation Foundation’s analysis of Clean Energy Regulator data shows BHP exceeded limits set under the Government’s ‘safeguard mechanism’ at eight facilities, but new baselines allow the company to emit 13 per cent more than historic high levels.
“Here is yet another example of the Morrison Government’s flagship climate change policy allowing big polluters to freely pollute more,” said ACF climate campaigner Suzanne Harter.
“BHP has been exceeding its emissions limits, but the company was allowed to adjust its baseline pollution numbers to account for the blowout.
“The emissions from BHP’s mining operations are higher than they were before the Coalition’s Direct Action policy was introduced.
“The Government’s safeguard mechanism is not safeguarding the climate we all share.”
BHP claims its operations will be net-zero emissions ‘in the latter half of this century’.
“Companies can make grand statements, but right now Australia has no meaningful policy to make sure companies cut emissions to protect our future.
“Our national climate policies are clearly not good enough to curb pollution from industry or meet Australia’s unambitious international commitments.”
BHP is not the only large miner that has been exploiting flaws in the Morrison Government’s climate policy to increase climate pollution.
ACF analysis found Centennial Coal blew the baseline for its Myuna colliery by 65 per cent but avoided penalty after the Clean Energy Regulator immediately increased its baseline. And Anglo American Coal used baseline changes to increase emissions at its Moranbah North mine by more than a million tonnes without penalty, saving the company $13.7 million.
The Government’s ‘safeguard mechanism’ sets pollution limits for mines, refineries and other highly polluting facilities. If a company exceeds its pollution baseline, it is required to buy carbon credits or pay a penalty. But the policy also allows companies to be granted temporary or permanent increases in baselines under a range of loose conditions.