The revised Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority’s Draft Environmental Factor Guideline for Greenhouse Gas Emissions released on December 9 reflect a more pragmatic and workable approach to emissions management but still fall short in acknowledging the importance of national and international emissions reduction policies over ad-hoc regional measures.

APPEA Chief Executive Andrew McConville said: “The effective and efficient management of greenhouse gas emissions meant adherence to national climate change policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions at least cost.

“The oil and gas industry takes the management of greenhouse gas emissions very seriously. We support national climate change policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions at least cost and facilitate investment decisions consistent with an international price on carbon,” Mr McConville said.

“This means we support the Australian Government leading on climate change policy responses, as the signatory to Australia’s Paris Agreement commitments.

“It also means duplicative and inconsistent requirements should not be imposed through the actions of a single regulatory agency in a single jurisdiction to a limited number of new and expanded projects.

“While the WA EPA has recognised a number of the major concerns expressed by industry since March 2019, the revised draft guidelines still contain elements where involvement by the EPA in mitigation policy is problematic.

“For example, the proposed requirement to consider Scope 3* emissions in project assessment is inappropriate, impractical and inconsistent with greenhouse gas reporting approaches used in Australia at the Federal level, and internationally.

In addition, Mr McConville said it remained unclear what actions will be necessary to demonstrate a ‘contribution’ to the state’s aspirational target of net zero emissions by 2050.  This adds to the confusion facing the industry when considering future investment in Western Australia.

“The oil and gas industry has invested billions of dollars in the WA economy in recent years, developing projects to supply cleaner energy to both the WA and our Asian trading partners.  With billions of dollars in future investment under consideration, clarity on the policy approach in WA is vital,” Mr McConville said.

“WA projects can play a key role in lowering global emissions and our LNG exports are contributing to a cleaner energy sector in Asia.  According to updated Australian Government estimates, our total LNG exports have the potential to reduce global emissions by at least 159 million tonnes per year** – equal to around 30 per cent of Australia’s total annual emissions.  LNG exports from WA play a substantial role in achieving this outcome.”

* Scope 3 emissions are indirect greenhouse gas emissions that occur as a consequence of the activities of a facility, but from sources not owned or controlled by that facility’s business.
** See minister.environment.gov.au/taylor/news/2019/australias-national-greenhouse-gas-inventory-june-2019-quarterly-update-released for more information.