Billionaire Andrew Forrest has spoken out against the federal government’s backstop legislation that would allow big polluters to offset their emissions.
The mining magnate and green hydrogen advocate has urged Australia to take bold steps to transform its energy sector after the United Nations warned that “lightspeed” action was needed to avert climate catastrophe.
Dr Forrest says the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reinforce that the world faces an existential threat.
With the government of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese seeking to pass changes to the safeguard mechanism, the chairman of Fortescue Metals Group questioned why polluting companies would be allowed to buy unlimited carbon credits.
“We don’t support changes that allow companies to buy offsets, because this is just an easy means of covering liabilities,” Dr. Forrest told the AAP from Hong Kong, where he was addressing the Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference. .
“I have had the world’s major fossil fuel companies try to argue with me that they can get to net zero carbon per barrel of oil simply by buying offsets. Which is code for ‘we’re not going to change anything, we’re just going to buy these real average carbon credits’.”
The government legislation targets the 215 biggest polluters in the country and aims to reduce emissions by 205 million tons by 2030.
Dr Forrest argues that Australia could “comfortably” supply all of its baseload power from renewables by then, using existing natural gas facilities at steady capacity until it can be replaced by green hydrogen.
“Having a country as good as green by 2030 would be a remarkable achievement, but for Australia, a very, very real one,” he said.
“Because we have all the sun and wind we could ever need and we have an exponentially multiplying renewable energy sector that just needs a boost.”
The IPCC urges developed countries to commit to reaching net zero emissions by 2040, a decade sooner than most promised.
The massive $500 billion ($A747 billion) Inflation Reduction Act introduced in the United States has been hailed as a game changer for renewable energy, given that it offers generous tax breaks for green hydrogen production.
Dr Forrest, whose green energy company Fortescue Future Industries has increased its investment in the US, said there was no reason why similar subsidies could not be provided on a smaller scale in Australia to capitalize on its abundant energy capacity. renewable energy.
Its huge iron ore business has previously outlined ambitious multi-billion dollar plans to achieve zero emissions by 2030.