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“A Fraud”: an academic who worked on the Federal Government’s Emissions Reduction Fund says it lacks integrity

An expert who worked on the Federal Government’s Emissions Reduction Fund, which pays people and businesses to pollute less, has said it lacks integrity and has several “flaws”.

Professor Andrew Macintosh, an academic who chaired the Fund’s Integrity Committee for several years, has published a series of papers outlining the concerns. He said the Fund is “a fraud on the environment [and] a fraud on taxpayers”.

A spokesperson for Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor told TDA the Minister “categorically rejects” this claim.

What is the fund?

The Emissions Reduction Fund pays people and businesses to pollute less.

Anyone with a project to reduce emissions can bid for a contract to have the program funded by Government. Participants receive ‘Australian Carbon Credit Units’ (ACCUs) for emissions reduced, which they can sell.

The Clean Energy Regulator is responsible for issuing ACCUs, and it has received $4.5 billion in government money to do so.

Professor Macintosh said “70 to 80%” of credits issued “do not represent real and additional” emissions reductions. For example, analysis by Macintosh and his colleagues found three in four credits were issued for planting trees, for agreeing not to cut down trees, or for burning methane from landfills.

“People are getting [credits] for not clearing forests that were never going to be cleared; they are getting credits for growing trees that are already there; they are getting credits for growing forests in places that will never sustain permanent forests,” Macintosh said.

Professor Macintosh and his co-authors are calling for changes to the law to stop credits going to “low integrity” projects and to increase transparency.

They also want “a full and independent inquiry into what has happened… the public deserves an explanation”.

Government Response

A spokesperson for Angus Taylor, the Federal Energy Minister, told TDA the Minister “categorically rejects” Macintosh’s claims.

“The fact is, the [Fund] is the world’s largest and most successful national offset scheme,” he said. “It has a well-deserved reputation for world’s best practice integrity.”

The spokesperson also pointed out the Clean Energy Regulator, which is independent of politicians, had labelled Macintosh’s claims “false”.

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