The Morrison government has again appointed a number of government allies and fossil fuel representatives to key government positions, this time overhauling the board of a body responsible for maintaining the integrity of Australia’s emissions reduction projects.
As reported by the Guardian Australia, the Morrison government made a number of pre-Christmas appointments to the Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee, the body responsible for maintaining the integrity of the Emissions Reduction Fund and overseeing the creation of new eligible methodologies for recognised emissions reduction activities.
The new committee now includes the Coalition’s preferred emissions modeller Brian Fisher, and is now chaired by David Byers, the former deputy CEO of the Minerals Council of Australia, a pro-coal lobby group.
Last year, Byers was appointed to lead the CO2CRC, which undertakes research into carbon capture and storage technologies. The two appointments raise a potential conflict of interest for Byers, as the Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee is likely to be tasked with overseeing a new methodology for recognising emissions reductions from carbon capture and storage projects.
Additionally, Brian Fisher, who heads consultancy BAEconomics, has been openly critical of a number of Labor party climate policies, and produced widely panned modelling that greatly exaggerated the costs of the opposition party’s 2019 election platform.
Other appointments to the Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee include cement industry executive Margie Thomson, ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh and the Queensland University of Technology’s Adjunct Associate Professor Beverley Henry.
The committee also now features a senior researcher within the CSIRO’s Oil Gas and Fuels Program, Allison Hortle and Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources representative Helen Bennett.
The appointments follow a pattern of appointments of people sympathetic to the Morrison government’s energy agenda.
As reported by RenewEconomy last year, the Morrison government appointed a number of ideologically aligned representatives to the board of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. This included a former political adviser to energy minister Angus Taylor, as well as co-founder of BAEconomics, Anna Matysek.
The Morrison government has also sought advice on its economic response to the Covid-19 pandemic from the National Covid Commission, which featured a number of current and former fossil fuel executives, which conceived of the government’s ‘gas-led recovery’ agenda.
Another former deputy CEO of the Minerals Council, John Kunkel, currently serves as prime minister Scott Morrison’s chief of staff.
The National Covid Commission is chaired by the deputy chairman of gas producer Strike Energy, Neville Power, and formerly featured oil executive Andrew Liveris, and managing director of EnergyAustralia Catherine Tanna.