You can’t cut carbon emissions by feeding fossil fuel companies

Contributed from New South Wales

Australia has just recorded the driest winter on record and already suffering a combination of bushfires and floods. Weather forecasters are telling us that the coming summer will be worse, possibly heading to record top temperatures.

Meanwhile, the northern hemisphere has experienced its own record heat, fires, and floods. The risk of not being able to produce enough food to feed the population is the prospect in a growing list of countries.

Canada is one of the northern hemisphere’s countries that has experienced heat and fire this year.

Another feature of this year, according to the Department of Industry, Science and Resources, has been the decline in the export of fossil fuel by Australia because demand for it is falling. Export earnings fell by $92 billion last financial year and expected to fall by another $68 billion in 2023–24 in this one.

Meanwhile, renewable energy strengthens its position as an obvious lower cost alternative.

Many governments pay lip service to doing something about it and do far too little. Australia has suffered a succession of such governments. The political elite continue to be cheerleaders and enables of the fossil fuel industry. This is the extent to which oil, coal, and gas companies have cemented their hold over the political apparatus and government.

Claiming to be progressing towards zero emissions hasn’t got in the way of new fossil fuel ventures. The Australia institute has cited 116 new government backed coal and gas projects. Companies behind them are being helped overcome obstacles and provided with taxpayers’ dollars. These projects alone will contribute 4.8 billion more tons of carbon emissions by 2030.

Protections from the proposed Safeguard Mechanism will only reduce less than 2 percent of these emissions at best because the mechanism offers the ability to bypass obligations through a credit purchasing system. Companies will be able to buy their way out of reducing emissions.

On top of this, some of the biggest projects have already given exemption from having to meet safeguard obligations. And no restrictions apply if the emissions are released outside Australia. Exports are exempt.

This is far from good enough.

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