Improvements in emissions reduction and removal in Australia welcomed

09 January 2023

The Australian Academy of Sciences welcomes the publication of the final report of the Independent Review of Australia’s Carbon Credit Units.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently highlighted the need to phase out CO2 of the atmosphere to limit global warming.

Cutting emissions alone will not be enough to achieve net zero by 2050 or limit warming to 1.5°C. It will be necessary to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere to achieve these goals.

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

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

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

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

“Australians need to have confidence that our systems for reducing and removing emissions are effective and of high integrity. Australian emission reductions and removals require solutions designed, implemented and verified by Australian scientists.

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

Under the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Act 2011Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) are issued by the Australian government to certify that one tonne of CO2 (or equivalent heating gases) has been stored or has not been released to the atmosphere. To be eligible to generate ACCU, projects must meet the offset integrity standards listed in Section 133 of the Act.

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

Input for the Academy’s evaluation was solicited from fellows, members of National Committees for Science and the broader Australian research community, and was peer reviewed.

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