116 New Fossil Fuel Projects = 4.8b Tonnes of Pollution, 24x Safeguard Cuts

Australia Institute

New research shows the pollution from the 116 new fossil fuel projects in the Federal Government’s Major Project list would add 4.8 billion tonnes of emissions to the atmosphere by 2030.

This increase in greenhouse gas would be 24 times greater than the 205 million tonne reduction in emissions the Government’s proposed Safeguard Mechanism aims to achieve.

Key points:

  • There are 116 new fossil fuel projects on the Federal Government’s Resources and Energy Major Projects (REMP) list, two more than last year.
  • This list is conservative as it does not include several large, advanced projects actively supported by Australian governments including Santos’s Barossa gas field, Shell’s Bowen Gas Project, Chevron’s Cleo Acme, and several vast new unconventional gas basins including the Beetaloo, Canning and Lake Eyre basins.
  • By 2030 the projects would produce 1.4 billion tonnes of coal and 15,400 petajoules (PJ) of gas and oil. For context, Australia produced 422 million tonnes of coal and 6,022 PJ of gas in 2021-22.
  • Producing and burning this coal and gas would result in approximately 4.8 billion tonnes of CO2-e to 2030.
  • Of the total 4.8 billion tonnes CO2-e, the Safeguard Mechanism would apply to just 344 million tonnes that would be emitted in Australia – the emissions from production and some Australian use.
  • Under the current Safeguard Mechanism proposal, 86 million tonnes of emissions related to these projects would need to be reduced or offset. This is less than 2% of the total 4.8 billion tonnes.

“Australia has more gas and coal mine proposals in 2023 than we did in 2021,” said Mark Ogge, Principal Advisor at The Australia Institute.

“Despite the need for action, despite our climate election, there are more fossil fuel projects now, not less.

“This shows that Australia’s climate policies are not working.

“The proposed Safeguard Mechanism reform not only fails to stop these damaging projects, it legitimises and facilitates them.

“The stated objective of the Safeguard Mechanism is to provide ‘policy certainty’ to polluters.

“Having a level of pollution approved by the Federal Government actually assists gas and coal projects with approvals from state government regulators”.

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