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Report reveals EPA policy on carbon pollution would unlock thousands of new WA jobs

Independent analysis from RepuTex Energy has revealed that around 4,000 new jobs would be created in Western Australia’s land management, renewable energy, and other industries if the state government reinstated and strengthened conditions requiring WA’s largest polluters to offset greenhouse gas emissions.

With a focus on offsetting growing pollution from liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects in WA, the report reveals far reaching environmental and economic benefits resulting from the development of a local carbon offsetting industry.

The report was commissioned by the state’s peak environment group, the Conservation Council of WA (CCWA), late last year ahead of yesterday’s release of updated policy guidance from WA’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for project greenhouse gas emissions.

CCWA Director Piers Verstegen said the report confirmed that state action to control pollution was good for the economy, and could help kick start significant new industries in WA.

“WA’s rapidly growing carbon pollution from LNG production is currently the biggest driver of Australia’s pollution growth, at a time when we must be reducing emissions to comply with the Paris Agreement and prevent dangerous climate change.

“This research confirms that action to control carbon pollution at a state level would result in significant new investment and employment opportunities in carbon farming, tree planting, renewable energy, land management, and other clean industries.

“We are particularly pleased to see the greatest benefits would be felt in regional WA, with significant opportunities for Indigenous employment in improved land management and carbon farming across the state’s vast rangelands.”

LNG projects are Western Australia’s largest and fastest growing source of carbon pollution, with LNG related carbon emissions rising to over 30 million tonnes per year as Chevron’s giant Wheatstone and Gorgon projects have come online in the last 18 months.

Measures to control pollution from these facilities have either proven ineffective, or were removed under the Barnett Government.

Reputex Energy analysis suggests that if LNG production facilities are required to offset their direct emissions, WA has abundant potential to meet modelled demand. Around 80 million tonnes of emissions reduction opportunities were identified across all possible activities.

Mr Verstegen said, “This report confirms that if the State Government acts now, we can capture substantial employment and economic benefits for WA, however these benefits will not be guaranteed if we wait for the Commonwealth Government to act.

“Leaving WA’s rising pollution to be dealt with by the Commonwealth will only delay action, and will make it harder for to capture the employment and economic benefits of action on climate change here in WA.

“While it would deliver real benefits and jobs, the cost of offsetting carbon pollution from LNG developments represents only a few percent of the profits the Chevron and other LNG companies are generating from LNG production in WA.

“As LNG producers like Chevron pay little tax and no royalties, requiring them to offset their carbon pollution is a way to capture greater benefits from these projects for our economy, while at the same time kick starting new clean industries and helping drive the transition to renewable energy in our state.”

Background to yesterday’s WA EPA announcement and the Reputex Energy report:

  • Yesterday the state government’s environmental watchdog, the Environmental Protection Authority, released a new policy that clarifies its position on climate change and carbon pollution from the state’s largest carbon pollution emitters seeking environmental approval in the future.
  • The new policy will require polluters to take greater efforts to reduce and avoid carbon pollution by using renewable energy, and more efficient technology. It will also require polluters to ‘offset’ all of their scope 1 (direct) carbon pollution from WA operations. The policy is in line with climate science which says that carbon pollution must be reduced, rather than increased.
  • The new policy will apply to new proposals and projects that require EPA assessment in the future. It can also be applied to existing projects where the government triggers a statutory review of conditions by the EPA. It will not apply to all polluters overnight. The EPA policy is not binding on the government however it  will inform the EPA’s future recommendations to government.
  • The LNG industry is the largest polluter in WA and the fastest growing pollution source in Australia. Each of Chevron’s two giant LNG projects are responsible for around 10 million tonnes per year of carbon pollution. The pollution from just one of Chevron’s LNG plants cancels out the entire savings that will be achieved under the Morrison Government’s Emissions Reduction Fund. Total carbon pollution from WA LNG projects is around 30 million tonnes per year, or nearly 40% of total pollution from all sources in WA.  The two Chevron facilities are currently under review by the EPA. The Gorgon facility has failed to comply with its conditions requiring geosequestration of carbon pollution.
  • The cost of offsetting carbon pollution from LNG production is expected to be a few percent of the reported profits of LNG companies like Chevron. Chevron pays very little tax and no royalties for the gas it is exporting.

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