The Conservation Council wrote on behalf of Climate Change Liaison Group members to Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Shane Rattenbury MLA, expressing concern that the ACT Government has obtained modelling for the ACT to offset its greenhouse emissions by setting up reafforestation and other land use changes in nearby regional NSW. This modelling has been done even though the Government has received recommendations against offsets with advice that it is risky, hard to measure and will have ongoing costs.
On Thursday 29 March our Climate Change Liaison Group met to discuss our second submission into the Zero Net Emissions Discussion Paper. Our combined input is proceeding well. We are, however, very concerned about the inclusion of regional land use in the economic modelling. We do not understand why it has been included:
- when the Climate Council has recommended against offsetting;
- you as the Minister have expressed a view publicly on at least several occasions that we need to reduce our emissions locally and not via offsetting;
- noting that the modelling report indicates itself that regional land use abatement is risky [page 24]; and
- this measure does not meet other established criteria for abatement such as permanence, measurability, verification and additionality.
Contrary to all of this, the report then puts up a model of 84% of the 75% target for 2030 being derived from regional land use and states this model will cost $8.40 per tonne. No wonder the Treasury official at the 1 March briefing for CCMAG on the modelling got very excited about this possibility.
It is of concern to us that the other model for achieving the 75% for 2030 is still reliant on 50% of the abatement from regional land use.
This will be covered in our submission, however we felt it important to advise you of this view due to our strength of feeling on this matter. All of our groups feel very strongly that regional land use should not be included in our abatement pathways. Such activity could be pursued for other policy objectives but not as an abatement measure.
Likewise we all feel very strongly that we need to take responsibility for reducing our emissions through our actions and behaviours locally.
As a relatively wealthy and high emitting community, the ACT has a moral responsibility to be fair and show we care for others by taking responsibility for reducing our own emissions.
In contrast to reducing actual emissions, relying on offsets does not permanently reduce net emissions nor is the expenditure one-off. Because ACT’s emissions would continue, ongoing expenditure on tree-planting (or similar) would be required with the inherent uncertainty about effectiveness, risks, and increasing costs as sequestration becomes more difficult in a warming climate and moves farther afield. In addition any announcement that the ACT will offset emissions in the region could result in profiteering on land.
For your information the groups participating in our combined submission are: Australian Youth Climate Council (AYCC), Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, Beyond Zero Emissions, Canberra Environment Centre, Climate Action Canberra, Frank Fenner Foundation, SEE-Change and 350Canberra.
Conservation Council ACT Region
The first submission by the Climate Change Liaison Group on the ACT Government’s Zero Net Emissions discussion paper was forwarded in late February. This is our second. A third is underway. The ACT Climate Council also said: “Rather than purchasing “offsets” (some other jurisdiction’s reductions), the Council recommends that we invest in the actions that will reduce our own emissions whilst simultaneously improving our health, well-being and prosperity here in the ACT.”