Carbon horse-trading

We have to be very careful of applauding carbon-trading schemes as the solution to reducing emissions. The NSW government’s greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme is so flawed some participants are rewarded for ‘cutting pollution’ when their emissions have in fact increased.

Researchers at the University of NSW showed two Queensland coal-fired power stations earned millions of dollars under the scheme, even though they spewed forth an extra 9 million tonnes of pollution a year.

This highlights how a poorly designed trading scheme could not only let the polluters off the hook but reward them as well, while claiming that action is being taken.

In another sign of dodgy deals with the coal industry, the NSW government approved a massive expansion of Newcastle’s coal export capacity in early April. The new loading facilities will be responsible for exporting coal that will produce more than 160 million tonnes of CO2 each year.

The mine is so big it will be responsible for up to 530 million tonnes of CO2 pollution over the mine’s 21-year life. That CO2 will remain in the atmosphere for 100 years.

Then in early June, Morris Iemma approved a huge new coal mine near Newcastle at Anvil Hill. The emissions would exceed the emissions the Government plans to curb by 2030 by using renewable energy.

But Morris Iemma is hoping that he can find a crack in the ground somewhere, down which to pump the gases for safekeeping (also called geosequestration). Industry experts and the IPCC both say the technology is in its infancy and could be 40 years away.

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