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Greenhouse Gas Removal in Australian Climate Law: A Positive Role for Negative Emissions


Jan McDonald, Kerryn Brent, Phillipa McCormack and Jeffrey McGee

Australia’s path to net zero emissions must include both emissions reduction and removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Australia’s large landmass and expansive marine estates provide significant opportunities for implementing these negative emissions technologies (‘NETs’). Significant further legal innovation will be needed to facilitate NETs crediting and adapt existing environmental, health and safety legislation to this large-scale challenge. As a starting point, this article surveys the current state of Australian law and identifies priority areas for developing a legal framework to facilitate responsible research and development of NETs in Australia. It shows that the enormous scale of greenhouse gas removal requires: a market for NETs credits administered to ensure the legitimacy of crediting practices; special arrangements to facilitate research and development; technology-specific law reform targeting the most promising technologies; and regulatory coordination to ensure that environmental and social risks are adequately managed.

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(2023) 46(1) UNSWLJ 79: