Publications

This is a searchable catalogue of the College's most recent books, book chapters, journal articles and working papers. The ANU College of Law also publishes a Research Paper Series on SSRN.

ERF paper

Integrity and the ERF’s Human-Induced Regeneration Method: The Additionality Problem Explained

Author(s): Andrew Macintosh, Donald Butler, Megan C. Evans, Pablo R. Larraondo, Dean Ansell, Marie Waschka

Earlier this year, we went public with details of serious integrity issues in Australia’s carbon market, which forms part of the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF). One of our main concerns is with a carbon offset method known as Human-Induced Regeneration of a Permanent Even-Aged Native Forest (HIR). Our analysis suggests most of the credits issued under this method are not backed by real and additional carbon storage.

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Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law, Environmental Law

ERF paper title

Integrity and the ERF’s Human-Induced Regeneration Method: The Measurement Problem Explained

Author(s): Andrew Macintosh, Donald Butler, Megan C. Evans, Pablo R. Larraondo, Dean Ansell, Marie Waschka

The Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) is a $4.5 billion program that forms the basis of Australia’s carbon market. Under the ERF, projects that reduce emissions receive carbon credits that can be sold to the Australian Government and private entities that are required or voluntarily choose to offset their emissions.

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Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law, Environmental Law

Fixing the integrity problems with Australia's carbon market

Fixing the Integrity Problems with Australia’s Carbon Market

Author(s): Andrew Macintosh, Donald Butler, Megan C. Evans, Dean Ansell, Marie Waschka

Since 2014, the centrepiece of Australia’s climate policy has been the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF), a $4.5 billion fund that incentivises emissions reduction activities across the economy and forms the basis of Australia’s carbon market. Under the ERF, projects that reduce emissions receive credits that can be sold to the Australian Government and private entities that are required to, or that voluntarily choose to, offset their emissions.

Earlier this year, we went public with details of serious integrity issues with the ERF, labelling it ‘environmental and taxpayer fraud’. While a number of long-held concerns with the scheme exist, we have initially focused on the ERF’s most popular carbon credit methods: human-induced regeneration (HIR); avoided deforestation; and landfill gas. Our analysis suggests up to 80% of the carbon credits issued to projects under these methods lack integrity. That is, they do not represent real (emissions have not been reduced) or additional (the reduction would have happened anyway) abatement.

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Research theme: Administrative Law, Environmental Law

ERF

The Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF): Problems and Solutions

Author(s): Andrew Macintosh, Donald Butler, Marie Waschka, Dean Ansell

The ERF’s carbon offset crediting scheme is an indispensable part of the policy framework required to ensure Australia achieves its net zero target in a cost-effective manner. Abandoning carbon offsets would substantially increase the cost of achieving the target and forego the many environmental and social co-benefits that can be generated from a well-functioning offset market. However, significant reform is needed to ensure the ERF generates real and additional abatement and performs its intended functions.

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Research theme: Environmental Law

ERF publication

The ERF’s Human-induced Regeneration (HIR): What the Beare and Chambers Report Really Found and a Critique of its Method

Author(s): Andrew Macintosh, Don Butler, Megan C Evans, Pablo R Larraonda, Dean Ansell, Philip Gibbons

The Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) is the centre-piece of the Australian Government’s climate policy. It was first introduced in 2014 and is comprised of three main elements: a carbon offset crediting scheme, which issues Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs) to projects that abate emissions; a purchasing scheme, whereby the Clean Energy Regulator (on behalf of the Australian Government) voluntarily purchases ACCUs from eligible offset projects; and the ‘Safeguard Mechanism’, which imposes emission obligations on designated large facilities that can be met through the relinquishment of ACCUs. 

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Research theme: Environmental Law

Measurement Error

Measurement Error in the Emissions Reduction Fund's Human-induced Regeneration (HIR) Method

Author(s): Andrew Macintosh, Don Butler, Dean Ansell

The Human-induced Regeneration (HIR) method is a centrepiece of the Australian Government’s Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF). Broadly, the method allows landholders to earn carbon credits, known as Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs), for the regeneration of native forests through changes in land management. At present, the HIR method accounts for the most project registrations of any method under the ERF, the most Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs) issued of any method, and more than 50% of all ACCUs contracted through the ERF purchasing scheme, worth approximately $1.5-$1.6 billion. HIR project areas now stretch across more than 20 million hectares of Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia and, in these areas, the method is having a material influence on property markets.

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Research theme: Environmental Law

Integrity

The Emissions Reduction Fund's Landfill Gas Method: An Assessment of its Integrity

Author(s): Andrew Macintosh

The available data provide compelling evidence that the majority of the abatement credited under the Emissions Reduction Fund’s (ERF) landfill gas methods has not been additional. It appears that in the order of two-thirds of the abatement credited under the methods would have occurred in the absence of the incentive provided by the issuance of ACCUs. The non-additional abatement credited under these methods equates to approximately 19.5 million Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs), or almost 20% of the total number of ACCUs issued under the ERF to the end of 2021. These credits are likely to have been worth more than $300 million.

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Research theme: Environmental Law

Book cover

Adaptation to Climate Change: Law and policy

Editor(s): Andrew Macintosh, Tim Bonyhady, Jan McDonald,

While climate policy has focused overwhelmingly on the science and on reducing emissions, policy makers are increasingly focused on how to adapt to changes are already “locked in”, changes that will bring significant social economic and environmental impacts. Adaptation will require technological innovation as well as behavioural and attitudinal change. This book covers the legal dimensions of adaptation and addresses challenges across sector interests. It considers whether existing regulatory and governance frameworks are supportive, adaptable or barriers to necessary change. The authors cover the key issues: sea level rise, planning; water security; climate justice; conservation regimes; the role of the courts; insurance; compensation; and the law of disasters.

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Research theme: Environmental Law

Book cover

Mills, Mines and Other Controversies: The Environmental Assessment of Major Projects

Editor(s): Andrew Macintosh, Tim Bonyhady

Major developments have the potential to generate significant economic benefit and substantial environmental damage – and major political controversies as local, State and federal governments become involved. Process can fracture all too easily as governments come under fierce and competing pressures. This book is concerned with whether environmental impact assessment is an effective vehicle for protecting the Australian environment when major projects are in play. It scrutinises a major development in each State and territory and shows what happened and why things happened, which processes worked and which didn’t, and the roles of the different layers of government. The case studies include the headline projects such as the Gunns Mill in the Tamar Valley, Queensland’s Traveston Dam, the dredging of Port Phillip Bay, the expansion of the McArthur River mine and the Gorgon Gas development of Barrow Island.

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Research theme: Environmental Law

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (CTH): An Evaluation of its Cost-Effectiveness

Author(s): Andrew Macintosh

This article outlines the results of a broad cost-effectiveness analysis of the federal environmental impact assessment (EIA) regime under Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). Statistics on the operation of the EIA regime are reviewed and an analysis of the regime’s effectiveness in dealing with Australia’s main environmental threats is provided. Consideration is also given to any indirect benefits the regime may have generated. The identified environmental achievements of the EIA regime over the period July 2000 to 30 June 2008 are compared to its administration costs, which are estimated at $135 million – $220 million. The conclusion is reached that over the study period the EIA regime generated minor improvements in environmental outcomes at moderate to high cost.

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Research theme: Administrative Law, Environmental Law, Law, Governance and Development

Australia's National Environmental Legislation: A Response to Early

Author(s): Andrew Macintosh

This article provides a critique of a paper by Gerard Early on the operation of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act). Early’s article presents the EPBC Act as world best practice environmental impact assessment (EIA) legislation and argues that it has produced significant improvements in environmental outcomes. The evidence suggests otherwise. The EPBC Act is deficient in a number of respects, particularly in relation to the structure of the EIA regime and listing processes concerning threatened biodiversity and heritage areas. This article outlines defects in Early’s analysis and in the EPBC Act more generally.

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Research theme: Administrative Law, Environmental Law, Law, Governance and Development

The Garnaut Review’s Targets and Trajectories: A Critique

Author(s): Andrew Macintosh

The Garnaut Climate Change Review was the most comprehensive government inquiry into climate change that has ever been conducted in Australia. The Final Report of the Review was published in late September 2008 and contains an extensive list of recommendations on adaptation and abatement policy options. Most controversially, the Review argues that Australia’s climate response should be built around gaining an international consensus on stabilising the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases at 550 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2-e). While arguing that a lower stabilisation target of “450 ppm or less” would better suit Australia’s interests, the Review concludes that anything significantly below 550 ppm is politically unrealistic. If there is a global agreement to pursue a 550 ppm outcome, the Review argues that Australia’s mid- and long-term targets should be to reduce emissions net of international trading by 10 per cent from 2000 levels by 2020, and 80 per cent by 2050. This article provides a critique of the Review’s mitigation recommendations, focusing on whether the proposed global and national targets are likely to lead to a 550 ppm outcome. It concludes that the international community, and especially Australia and other developed countries, should adopt abatement targets in excess of those proposed by the Review if there is a desire to keep the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases to 550 ppm.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law, Environmental Law, Law, Governance and Development

The Garnaut Review’s Targets and Trajectories: A Critique

Author(s): Andrew Macintosh

The Garnaut Climate Change Review was the most comprehensive government inquiry into climate change that has ever been conducted in Australia. The Final Report of the Review was published in late September 2008 and contains an extensive list of recommendations on adaptation and abatement policy options. Most controversially, the Review argues that Australia’s climate response should be built around gaining an international consensus on stabilising the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases at 550 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2-e). While arguing that a lower stabilisation target of “450 ppm or less” would better suit Australia’s interests, the Review concludes that anything significantly below 550 ppm is politically unrealistic. If there is a global agreement to pursue a 550 ppm outcome, the Review argues that Australia’s mid- and long-term targets should be to reduce emissions net of international trading by 10 per cent from 2000 levels by 2020, and 80 per cent by 2050. This article provides a critique of the Review’s mitigation recommendations, focusing on whether the proposed global and national targets are likely to lead to a 550 ppm outcome. It concludes that the international community, and especially Australia and other developed countries, should adopt abatement targets in excess of those proposed by the Review if there is a desire to keep the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases to 550 ppm.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law, Environmental Law, Law, Governance and Development

International Aviation Emissions to 2025: Can Emissions Be Stabilised Without Restricting Demand?

Author(s): Andrew Macintosh

International aviation is growing rapidly, resulting in rising aviation greenhouse gas emissions. Concerns about the growth trajectory of the industry and emissions have led to calls for market measures such as emissions trading and carbon levies to be introduced to restrict demand and prompt innovation. This paper provides an overview of the science on aviation's contribution to climate change, analyses the emission intensity improvements that are necessary to offset rising international demand. The findings suggest international aviation carbon dioxide emissions will increase by more than 110 per cent between 2005 and 2025 (from 416 Mt to between 876 and 1013 Mt) and that it is unlikely emissions could be stabilised at levels consistent with risk averse climate targets without restricting demand.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law, Environmental Law, Law, Governance and Development

International Aviation Emissions to 2025: Can Emissions Be Stabilised Without Restricting Demand?

Author(s): Andrew Macintosh

International aviation is growing rapidly, resulting in rising aviation greenhouse gas emissions. Concerns about the growth trajectory of the industry and emissions have led to calls for market measures such as emissions trading and carbon levies to be introduced to restrict demand and prompt innovation. This paper provides an overview of the science on aviation's contribution to climate change, analyses the emission intensity improvements that are necessary to offset rising international demand. The findings suggest international aviation carbon dioxide emissions will increase by more than 110 per cent between 2005 and 2025 (from 416 Mt to between 876 and 1013 Mt) and that it is unlikely emissions could be stabilised at levels consistent with risk averse climate targets without restricting demand.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law, Environmental Law, Law, Governance and Development

Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team