Australian carbon credits are not “fraud”, according to a review of claims from a whistleblower.
But former insider Andrew Macintosh and academic colleagues support research that questions three-quarters of the credit issued under the $2.5 billion federal Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF).
“Absolutely,” said Professor Macintosh.
The clean energy regulatory agency has initiated a review of claims about how carbon credits are approved and earned and released the findings on Wednesday.
An independent committee ruled that the claims were “unsubstantiated” and said there were “serious flaws in the analysis”.
The statement published online also rejected the “extravagant language” used by Prof Macintosh.
Call for data to support emission reduction claims
The academic, who once headed the integrity committee that examined methods approved under the fund, has called on regulators to release data to support their emissions reduction claims.
“Their defensiveness and obscuration are of great concern,” he said.
The leading environmental law and policy scientist at the Australian National University also wants a “suitably qualified expert” assessment.
Industry can buy the credits earned and spent under federally approved carbon projects to offset emissions from company activities.
Speculators can also buy them as financial products, while farmers gain access to new revenues from biodiversity and habitat projects.
Credits ‘a fraud on the environment.’
Earlier this year, Prof. Macintosh published research that many credits do not represent new or real emissions reductions and that key emission reduction methods are flawed in design or how they are managed.
He had said the credits were “an environmental fraud, a fraud against taxpayers, and a fraud against ignorant private buyers”.
Along with academic colleagues, he rejected the so-called man-made regeneration method — which stores carbon in regenerated native forests to earn credit — and questioned the integrity of landfill gas projects.
After the claims rocked market confidence, Carbon Market Institute CEO John Connor welcomed the officials’ detailed analysis of the criticism.
“Community and investor confidence in reductions and offsets in our carbon markets can only be sustained through regular review and testing of views,” said Mr. Connor.
Methods meet integrity standards.
The Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee assessment found that existing compliance mechanisms are working and that the methods surveyed meet the integrity standards set out in Commonwealth law.
“Claims regarding the man-made regeneration method did not provide robust evidence of a lack of integrity or excessive lending,” the review said.
Prof Macintosh said the statement about the method issued by the committee and regulator on Wednesday was “professionally shameful” and an “indictment against both agencies.”
He hopes Federal Climate Change Secretary Chris Bowen will deliver on the pre-election pledge for review.
‘Serious shortcomings’ in research
“The proposed revision of the ERF should examine the behavior and culture of both agencies,” said the academic.
The review found “serious shortcomings” in the research into the emission benefits of the landfill method.
“No basis” was found for the charge that such projects are profitable without the need for credit, the commission said.
But the professor said the regulator had refused to release data used to support the lucrative method.
“That’s a $500 million decision.”