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Climate policy investment risk claims are baseless: experts

March 14, 2019
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As the Premier prepares to meet with liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry representatives, Western Australia’s peak environment group has hit back at claims from the fossil fuel and mining industry that the new Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) policy on climate change would harm jobs and investment, labelling them a cynical attempt to preserve corporate profits at the expense of Western Australians and the environment.

IMAGE: Offsetting carbon pollution would create 4,000 jobs in WA

The West Australian newspaper has run stories warning that ‘billions of dollars’ of investment would be at risk if the government were to adopt EPA advice that big polluters should offset their emissions. Independent analysist from Macquarie Bank, The Australia Institute, and Reputex Energy have said the policy was a positive step that does not increase investment risk.

Conservation Council of WA (CCWA) Director Piers Verstegen said the claims from big polluters were utterly baseless, and revealed a cynical attempt to prevent action on climate change and place corporate profit margins above the interests of Western Australians.

“Independent research shows that action to offset carbon pollution from WA’s biggest polluters in the oil and gas industry would create 4,000 new jobs across the state. This is a major jobs driver, not a job killer like some of these industries are suggesting.

“These companies have been factoring in a carbon price in their internal decision-making for years. No Australian bank or financing institution would invest in a project that would become unviable due to a price on carbon, so why are companies like Woodside apparently asking their shareholders to take risks on such projects?

“The cost of offsetting pollution from WA’s largest emitters in the LNG industry would shave about 2% from their profits, to be invested in job creating industries like tree planting and renewable energy here in WA. This is a tiny impost on these companies which will make no difference to the bankability of their projects, but will make a huge difference to the climate and Western Australians.

“Last year Chevron announced its two giant LNG projects in WA’s North West were generating a staggering $32 million in clear profits every day. At the same time, these LNG projects are the main driver of Australia’s rising carbon emissions, and pollution from just one of these facilities will cancel out the entire savings from the Morrison Government’s taxpayer-funded Emissions Reduction scheme.

“These huge companies are making record profits, yet they pay no tax or royalties, and employ less than 1% of the West Australian workforce. It’s time they gave back to WA, and they could start by accepting responsibility to take reasonable and basic measures to get their pollution under control.”

Research Director with Reputex Energy, Bret Harper said, “Being accountable for their emissions doesn’t make any gas jobs go away – the projects either do or don’t go ahead based on other, much bigger factors. What it does do, is funnel a fraction of the profits back into the WA economy as part of a new growth industry by creating diverse and non-exportable jobs across the state.”

IMAGE: CCWA Director Piers Verstegen with West Australian 8 Mar 2019

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