The CSIRO has been criticised over the findings of a report on fracking in the Beetaloo Basin. 

The Australia Institute (TAI) has described the science agency’s report as being designed to expand the gas industry. 

A recent report by CSIRO’s internal Gas Industry Social and Environment Alliance (GISERA), which receives a third of its funding from the gas industry, details whether the Northern Territory government could offset all the greenhouse gas emissions from fracking the Beetaloo Basin. 

The “Mitigation and Offsets of Australian Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Onshore Shale Gas in the Northern Territory” report predicts annual greenhouse emissions for five scenarios of Beetaloo Basin onshore shale gas production and consumption. 

This would require “unproven CCS and/or unapproved international offsets for some scenarios,” according to Steven Spencer, Energy and Climate Senior Analyst Engevity Advisory and former senior Technical Advisor (Electricity) at the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

“The Beetaloo Basin GHG emissions would become the largest of any facility in Australia for four out of five of the scenarios,” Mr Spencer says. 

“The report not only assumes dramatic increases in planting trees, it also assumes that around 50 million hectares of Australia’s rangeland (the ‘outback’) have lost 95% of its vegetation and can be regenerated as a way to offset emissions,” the Australia Institute report says. 

Whistleblower and former head of the Clean Energy Regulator's offsets integrity committee, Professor Andrew MacIntosh, claims the report contains “demonstrable nonsense”.

“They've come forward with estimates [for the amount of emissions that can be offset] that are grossly inflated,” he told ABC Radio Darwin.

“I think what needs to happen here is that someone needs to do a proper peer review of this work.

“And probably [someone] needs to re-do the work in order to get a more robust abatement and the amount of offsets that can really be generated in the Northern Territory, and across the country more broadly.”

A spokesperson for the CSIRO has told reporters that: “The NT offsets report was subject to CSIRO's standard peer review process, which involves impartial and independent assessment of research by others working in the same or a related field”.

The science agency also responded to broader criticism about industry influence on the agency, which retracted false climate science statements in a different report on the Beetaloo Basin last year.

“The GISERA Alliance Agreement between CSIRO, government and industry partners provides a transparent governance framework to provide high-quality, independent scientific research and information to communities living in gas development regions,” the spokesperson said.