Confidence risk in controversial carbon scheme reporting

By Tom Ravlic

March 29, 2022

Carbon Market Institute chief John Connor (L) with NSW farmer Peter Yench at his Cobar property. Mr Yench has earned millions for carbon farming through federal government credits. (AAP Image/Carbon Market Institute)

Controversy in the reporting on how carbon schemes are measured run the risk of harming confidence in the Australian Carbon Credit Units, the Carbon Market Institute has said.

The institute has committed to publishing a report explaining the integrity of the Australian carbon credit scheme following criticisms made in media reports by Professor Andrew Mackintosh from the Australian National University – an expert in environmental law and emissions reduction – that the existing Australian carbon market has become a “rort”.

CMI chief executive officer John Connor said Australia’s carbon credit network should receive support at a time when a demand for action on climate change is great.

Connor said technical papers have branded the Australian scheme as lacking integrity in an environment whereby carbon credit units are treated as financial products under Australia laws and where strict rules govern the way in which advice is provided on them.

There are also a range of other protections in the carbon credit scheme, Connor said, that provide integrity to the carbon credit system.

“Sensational claims of ‘fraud’, ‘rorts’ and ‘sham’ amount to a direct attack on a vast network of farmers, traditional owners, service providers, investors, auditors, conservationists, and public servants, many of whom have spent the last decade striving to accelerate support for stronger industrial emission reduction, sustainable agriculture and reversal of deforestation,” Connor said.

“Many of these participants are feeling aggrieved by accusations which do not appear to be substantiated by the academic papers.”

Connor said land-management papers that have criticised the domestic carbon credit scheme as being “devoid of integrity” will be the subject of review by the Institute before it provides a detailed response.

“However, the land management papers for example, don’t back up claims that 70 – 80% of Australian Carbon Credit Units are ‘devoid of integrity’”.  The papers, focused on the Human Induced Regeneration (HIR) methodology, appear to confuse principles under the methodology, which is aimed at crediting transition to forest cover, not current forest levels,” Connor said.

“The transition to forest cover is closely regulated, including 5-yearly regeneration checks, and a 15 year forest cover attainment check. The papers also understate additional requirements made in 2019 to the HIR methodology which were designed to improve integrity of these projects.”


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