Greens demand documents on ‘dodgy’ carry-over credits for Paris target

greens climate spokesman adam bandt calls the morrison government’s decision to use carry-over credits to meet its paris target
Greens climate spokesman Adam Bandt calls the Morrison government’s decision to use carry-over credits to meet its Paris target ‘dodgy’. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Bid to keep the spotlight on the Coalition and on Labor which is yet to decide if it will follow suit

— The Greens will use the resumption of parliament for the looming budget session to try to extract documents associated with the Morrison government’s decision to use carry-over credits from the Kyoto period to meet the Paris 2030 target.

The move by the Greens to extract documents relevant to the decision is an effort to keep the spotlight both on the Coalition’s decision to count a 367-megatonne contribution from carry-over credits, and also on Labor, with the opposition yet to take a decision on whether it will follow suit.

Carry-over credits are an accounting system that allows countries to count credits from exceeding their targets under the soon-to-be-obsolete Kyoto protocol periods against their Paris commitment for 2030.

The Greens climate spokesman, Adam Bandt, said it was important to chase documents because the public deserved to know “whose idea it was to use dodgy credits instead of actually cutting pollution” – and he noted other countries had declined to use carry-overs for Paris.

Bandt said he was concerned Labor was leaving its options open, but argued it was possible the ALP was leaving its options option because it could be forced to rely on credits and permits to meet its target of a 45% reduction on 2005 levels by 2030.

The Greens say Labor’s decision to apply their economy-wide target of 45% to the electricity sector, instead of forcing steeper abatement in electricity, where it is comparatively cheaper to cut pollution, meant it would have to chase more expensive abatement in sectors like heavy industry, transport, agriculture and waste.

Bandt contends Labor may not be able to meet its target “without relying on Scott Morrison’s accounting trick”.

“If you stick with low targets in electricity, where it is much cheaper and easier to reach zero pollution, you just shift the burden onto other sectors like agriculture,” he said.

The government confirmed it would bank the 367-megatonne contribution from carry-overs as part of a recent pivot on climate change policy. Morrison released a carbon budget detailing the emissions reductions from various programs that will be required to meet the Paris target.

The shadow climate change minister, Mark Butler, has said his “bias is to steer clear of cop-outs and accounting tricks”, but Labor wants to consult with stakeholders before resolving whether carry-overs are in or out under its climate policy.

Labor has already unveiled some of its climate change initiatives for the coming federal election, but there is more policy to come, including a likely trading scheme for liable entities – big polluters emitting more than 25,000 tonnes of carbon a year – and also vehicle emissions standards to bring down pollution in transport.

It is unclear whether Labor will release a carbon budget as the government has done, quantifying abatement in specific sectors.

The Investor Group on Climate Change, a group that represents institutional investors such as super funds, with total funds under management of about $2tn, over the weekend warned against using carry-over credits as part of the emissions reduction toolkit for Paris.

“The use of carryover to weaken Australia’s emissions commitments is also fundamentally at odds with limiting warming in line with the objectives of the Paris agreement and driving global momentum for coordinated, and increased ambition,” the IGCC said.

“This could threaten to spread a low ambition contagion in the international system by further encouraging other countries like Russia to use carryover to delay emissions reductions.”

The group pointed out if Labor ultimately uses the same accounting as the government, factoring in the 367-megatonne contribution in its carbon budget, it’s 45% emissions reduction target would become a 35% target.

Emissions for the year to September 2018 went up 0.9% on the previous year, according to the latest inventory, primarily due to a 19.7% increase in LNG exports, but there were also increases in stationary energy, transport, fugitives, industrial processes and waste sectors.

The trend of rising emissions has been in evidence since the Abbott government repealed the carbon price Labor legislated during the 43rd parliament.


by Katharine Murphy | The Guardian

 

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