In a previous blog post we cited Greta Thunberg explaining that some nations are using “creative carbon accounting” to present a false image of their green policies. Australia is one major culprit of the practice.
A new coal mine development in New South Wales will be offset through rehabilitation of the coal pit more than a decade after an ecosystem has been destroyed. The plan allows future rehabilitation of the mine site to be claimed as part of Glencore’s offsets for its Mangoola mine expansion. Replanting and regeneration of the actual mine site years after its operations have finished will count towards offsets the company is required to deliver to compensate for the loss of some of the endangered habitat its project will cause. It is one example to start an ecosystem from scratch to compensate for the loss of mature bushland.
Glencore’s Mangoola expansion was approved in early October by the federal environment minister, Sussan Ley. It is the third coal project the minister has approved in a month.
Rachel Walmsley, the Environmental Defenders Office’s policy and law reform director, said development approvals had increasingly permitted the use of mine rehabilitation to provide biodiversity offsets despite the fact the NSW government still had not finalised rules that defined how mining rehabilitation should work under the state’s offset scheme.
“The idea that in 40 years time a void could be rehabilitated to a functioning ecosystem that is somehow an offset for habitat destruction that is happening now is farcical,” Walmsley said. “Offsetting is a tool that is facilitating decline and extinction and that’s why it needs to be critically reviewed because it is losing its scientific credibility.”
Georgina Woods, the NSW coordinator of the anti-mining group Lock the Gate said, “Allowing coalmines to clear vanishing wildlife habitat and claim imaginary future offset for this loss 20 or more years into the future is not just ineffective: it is cynical and grotesque.” She explained the practice was contributing to a “rapid decline” in biodiversity in NSW.