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Australian energy firms challenge excess emissions claim

SYDNEY (AFP) – Energy companies have challenged a new report that found some of Australia’s largest fossil fuel projects were emitting far more greenhouse gas than originally predicted.

During an 18-month investigation, researchers from the Australian Conservation Foundation found one-in-five fossil fuel companies reporting their emissions had significantly exceeded the amount the government initially approved.

One gas pipeline was found to have released 20 times its predicted emissions.

Origin Energy, the operator of that pipeline, said late Thursday that the report incorrectly compared the estimated emissions for the pipeline to the reported emissions for the entire project.

The report also found that Chevron’s Gorgon LNG project off Australia’s west coast had emitted 16 million tonnes of greenhouse gas more than it anticipated.

The company had initially boasted “will be amongst the most efficient LNG developments in the world”.

A Chevron spokesperson told AFP that delays to a carbon capture and storage system attached to the project had led to 5.23 million tonnes of emissions released above its initial estimate. They added that the company would be buying carbon offset credits.

The Australian Conservation Foundation has called for the government to overhaul the tool used to track emissions from large fossil fuel projects, so that it is used to lower emissions, not only monitor them.

According to data from Climate Watch, Australia has the highest per capita levels of fugitive methane emissions in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – a grouping of rich industrialised nations.