“There’s no environmental benefit here. In fact, it may have done actual damage to the climate by locking the miner into using gas instead of earlier investing in renewable energy, as it seems to be pursuing now.”

News that the massive South African miner Gold Fields won an emissions reduction fund contract to burn gas under a project that would have gone ahead anyway is more evidence the scheme is fundamentally flawed and needs urgent reform, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) says.

It follows recent revelations that the polluting Vales Point coal plant has successfully registered a project under the emissions reduction fund to bid for cash to upgrade equipment at the power station, potentially extending the life of the power plant.

ACF Chief Executive Kelly O’Shanassy said the latest news about Gold Fields demands the Morrison Government fix the fund so major industrial players cannot be paid through the scheme to burn fossil fuels.

“It’s outrageous the Coalition Government is handing public money for cutting climate pollution to one of the world’s largest gold miners to burn gas in a project it admits it would have built anyway,” Ms O’Shanassy said.

“The proponent freely concedes it would’ve built this project with or without public money. That money should have gone to something that would cut pollution, not feather the nest of a large miner to hedge against future gas price rises.

“There’s no environmental benefit here. In fact, it may have done actual damage to the climate by locking the miner into using gas instead of earlier investing in renewable energy, as it seems to be pursuing now.

“Australians should rightly ask whether allocating new money to the emissions reduction fund, as Prime Minister Morrison has announced today, will mean more cash for big industrial players to burn coal, oil and gas.

“A program like the emissions reduction fund has a role to encourage farmers and landowners to cut pollution, plant more trees and protect vegetation, but it must not be used to pay large corporations to burn fossil fuels.”

ACF Media Enquiries

Journalists with enquiries may contact Tom Arup on 0402 482 910 or Josh Meadows on 0439 342 992. For all other enquiries please call 1800 223 669 or email action@acf.org.au.