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Shell says mixed messages on emissions threaten billions in investment

Brad Thompson Reporter: Oct 2, 2019

Shell has warned Western Australia’s environmental watchdog that billions of dollars of investment are at risk if it contributes to mixed messages on tackling greenhouse gas emissions.

The oil and gas giant urged the Environmental Protection Authority to hold fire on handing down new emissions guidelines for approving large-scale projects in the resources rich state.

Shell also rejected the notion that it was possible to introduce a policy requiring net zero offsets in the oil and gas industry.

The EPA was forced to shelve such a policy in March after a Woodside-led backlash and a crisis meeting between major resource companies, including Shell, and WA Premier Mark McGowan.

The EPA yesterday released 7000 submissions from industry, conservation groups and individuals on what its revised approval guidelines for greenhouse gas emissions.

In its submission, Shell said it was concerned misalignment and non-complementary policy approaches between the EPA, WA Government and the Federal Government would create uncertainty and unintended consequences.

“Many of the resources projects that these guidelines would apply to are multibillion dollar investments and have a lifespan of over 30 years,” it said.

“Consistency and clarity on policy and regulatory approaches as far as possible is paramount. Given the above considerations, Shell Australia highly recommends that the EPA delay finalising guidelines until the WA Government climate policy has been established.

“These guidelines should be consistent with this policy and ideally with Australian government policy.”

Shell said the Australian carbon trading market was nowhere near mature enough to deal with a net zero emissions policy as put forward by the EPA in March.

“While we believe that sending a clear demand signal to current and potential suppliers of carbon credit units would be a positive step, we note that currently the Australian carbon trading market is constrained and will likely take some time to grow in line with market demand,” it said.

EPA chairman Tom Hatton said he would not comment on individual submissions, which include a push from big iron ore miners Rio Tinto, Fortescue Metals Group and Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill to exclude customer, or so-called scope 3, emissions from the approvals process.

“What is becoming clear from the almost 7000 submissions received is a variety of views exist, even from industry, on how greenhouse gas emissions should be managed in WA  and the role of the EPA in this space,” Dr Hatton said.

BHP steered clear of mentioning scope 3 but said that as a major producer and consumer of fossil fuels it recognised the responsibility to take action on emissions.


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