Politicians need greenwashing scrutiny too

Climate change, energy transition and the future of gas need an open and honest conversation.

But, I am not sure we fully got that from Greens leader Adam Bandt last week.

In announcing changes to the Albanese government’s safeguard mechanism reforms, Mr Bandt claimed that the Greens, “had stopped many of the 116 coal and gas projects currently in the pipeline from going ahead”.

The reality is, while a higher bar has been set environmentally, the future of these projects rests with the companies involved.

The ball is in their court.

Mr Bandt also claimed that, because of the amendments, new LNG projects would be required to be net zero CO2 from day one.

The Science Based Targets Initiative Net-Zero Standard defines corporate net-zero as:

  • Reducing scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions to zero or to a residual level that is consistent with reaching net-zero emissions at the global or sector level in eligible 1.5°C-aligned pathways
  • Neutralizing any residual emissions at the net-zero target year and any GHG emissions released into the atmosphere thereafter.

The safeguard mechanism only deals with Scope 1 emissions, and, from what I can tell, the above amendment only tackles CO2, to the exclusion of other greenhouse gases, such as methane.

I understand Mr Bandt’s political challenge in balancing his generally constructive approach with a constituency that rejects the important role of gas in energy transition.

But, just as corporate Australia needs to eliminate the gap between what we say and do on climate, we need less ambiguity from our politicians too.

Perhaps the greenwashing inquiry announced last week by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, could add political communications to its Terms of Reference.

This article also appeared in The West Australian newspaper.


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