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‘Stab in the dark’: Why other nations can’t trust our emissions data

Financial Review: Under-reporting of carbon emissions is rife among the country’s largest oil, gas and coal producers, and Labor’s signature climate policy cannot be considered credible until they are measured in a way that can be relied upon, a former competition regulator says.

Rod Sims, a former Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman, says patchy monitoring and “rule of thumb” reporting must be replaced with satellite and other technology to end uncertainty stemming from conflicting numbers on emissions.

Earlier this year, the International Energy Agency estimated Australia’s emissions of methane – a potent greenhouse gas 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide – could be 60 per cent greater than official forecasts. A government audit of open-cut coal mines in Queensland’s Bowen Basin increased the official estimate of methane emissions over 1990-2021 by 44 per cent.

Mr Sims – now the chairman of the Superpower Institute, a climate think tank backed by former bureaucrat-turned entrepreneur Ross Garnaut and funded by several wealthy donors – said fossil fuel producers needed to invest in high-tech monitoring at mining and processing sites.

More than 99 per cent of local emissions are based on rule-of-thumb estimates, Mr Sims said, adding that reliable estimates of carbon emissions would be vital for Australia to be able to sell green iron and other products to Europe, which aims to start taxing carbon at the border in 2026.

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