Vegetation regeneration projects make-up a significant proportion of the projects under the fund and we must make sure they are genuinely helping cut pollution.
In response to reports about draft emissions reduction fund rule changes to address concerns that vegetation regeneration projects may have been over credited, ACF Climate Change Campaigner, Suzanne Harter, said:
“This latest rule change appears to reflect the growing concerns within the public service that some regeneration projects have gained credits and cash under the emission reduction fund for pollution cuts that may not have yet occurred.
“What is curious is that the changes were initially applied to only one of the two methods for accrediting vegetation regeneration. Only now is the government proposing to mostly apply them across the board and there are real questions about this delay, especially as projects under the newly affected method were established by only one company.
“Vegetation regeneration projects make-up a significant proportion of the projects under the fund. We must make sure they are genuinely helping cut pollution.
“This is not the first instance where the claimed pollution cuts under the emissions reduction fund have been in question, especially in landfill gas capture projects. More recently it has become clear the fund is paying massive companies like Rio Tinto to burn more fossil fuels and could help dirty coal plants like Vales Point to upgrade their equipment.
“Ultimately the fund needs significant reform before any more money is tipped in. Methods that pay major industrial players to burn fossil fuels and make upgrades that would have happened anyway need to be canned immediately. And the integrity of vegetation projects must be assured.
“Programs like the fund have their place to encourage farmers and other landowners to cut pollution, protect forests and restore landscapes. But they are not the kind of substantive policies like regulations, caps, and trading schemes that are needed to transition Australia to a pollution-free economy. Five years of rising pollution under the emissions reduction fund is testament to that.”