Improvements in emissions reduction and removal in Australia welcomed

January 09, 2023
Australia needs a credible, high integrity and effective carbon offsets system.

The Australian Academy of Science welcomes the release of the final report from the Independent Review of Australian Carbon Credit Units.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently highlighted the need to remove CO2 from the atmosphere to limit global warming.

Reducing emissions alone will not be sufficient to achieve net zero by 2050 or limit warming to 1.5°C. Greenhouse gases will need to be removed from the atmosphere to achieve these goals.

The review has made a series of recommendations to enhance the transparency, governance, and operation of the system. They include:

  • an independent scientific committee to replace the Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee, greater access to data, and an emphasis on independent verification and peer-review
  • reform of method development designed to encourage agility and innovation
  • consideration of how mandatory cancellation of a proportion of claimed offsets can improve the overall integrity of the system.

Academy President Professor Chennupati Jagadish AC PresAA FREng FTSE said Australia needs a credible, high integrity and effective carbon offsets system.

“Both emissions reduction and emissions removal are urgently needed for Australia and the planet,” Professor Jagadish said.

“Australians need to have confidence that our systems for emissions reduction and emissions removal are effective and have high integrity. Australian emissions reduction and removal require solutions designed, implemented, and verified by Australian scientists.

“The recommendations in the report strengthen the integrity of Australia’s greenhouse gas removal efforts.”

Under the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Act 2011, Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) are issued by the Australian Government to certify that one tonne of CO2 (or equivalent warming gases) has either been stored or otherwise not released into the atmosphere. To be eligible to generate ACCUs, projects must comply with offsets integrity standards as listed in Section 133 of the Act.

The Academy was commissioned by the Independent Review Panel to provide a rapid assessment of four methods for generating ACCUs (human-induced regeneration, avoided deforestation, landfill gas, and carbon capture and storage). The report synthesised the science underpinning each method and assesses its strengths and limitations.

Input for the Academy’s assessment was sought from Fellows, members of National Committees for Science, and the Australian research community more broadly, and was peer-reviewed.

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