ABC’s Four Corners exposes the gap between Australia’s climate aspirations and the stark reality of LNG emissions

This week’s Four Corners program has highlighted why facing the climate change challenge should be the central concern of every decision maker in the nation. However, amongst the states, Western Australian Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is a major cause of Australia’s rising emissions, and is undermining our national capacity to meet the Paris agreement.

Ahead of the Liberal-National Coalition’s budget announcements, federal Labor published its emissions reduction plans yesterday, claiming that Australia could become a “renewables superpower”. There is an unrecognised potential for realising Western Australian carbon and job benefits if a Labor Government gains power and adjusts emissions policy settings after the upcoming national election.

At the state level, the announcement of Federal Labor policy coincided with WA Premier Mark McGowan’s trip to China to promote WA as an LNG ‘hub’ at a time when WA emissions are soaring. WA emissions are rising sharply relative to Australia’s carbon budget, making national capacity to keep on track for the Paris agreement extremely difficult. As evidenced by Reputex’s recent report, requiring the gas industry to offset their emissions from production could create more than 4,000 jobs in the carbon farming, renewables, and land management sectors.

At the same time there has been a surge in renewable energy capacity at the national level. To make the most of the transition, the Four Corner’s program identified that the renewables industry should be supported with regulatory approaches, which mandate targets that can replace fossil fuels for energy production.

Maintaining LNG industry viability whilst meeting Paris targets means supporting approaches such as the ‘zero net emissions’ stance of WA’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), which recently introduced a stronger greenhouse gas policy, only to withdraw it a week later citing the need for more industry and community consultation. Rather than a stronger ‘no new fossil fuel exploration or developments’ approach, the WA EPA has moderately signalled that industry certainty can be achieved by mandating 100% of emissions from large projects, throwing a lifeline to LNG exporters. Meanwhile, WA Health Minister and Deputy Premier Roger Cook yesterday announced a broad ranging inquiry into health and climate change mitigation for the state.

Comments attributed to Clean State campaign director Ms Kate Kelly:

“We are not on track to meet Paris commitments and it’s WA LNG that is driving up Australia’s emissions.

“How can our WA parliamentarians go to interstate forums such as COAG arguing that other states should reduce their emissions so that ours can increase?

“A sensible approach is to counterbalance emissions by requiring all new large projects to offset 100% of their production pollution. This will bring down pollution and generate investment in local carbon farming and renewable energy for WA, creating new jobs in growing industries like battery storage, lithium processing, and green hydrogen export.

“A commonsense approach to transitioning towards a carbon positive economy will allow WA to benefit from a timely regulatory response to the challenge of climate change.”

EPA policy news in the media

Here are some news articles and media releases examining the LNG industry and the recent policy withdrawal by the EPA on their greenhouse gas guidance here in Western Australia.

We recommend having a read of the following articles to find out more about interesting points in the debate, like just how many jobs are actually created by the LNG industry (around 1% of WA’s workforce), how many jobs could be created if the EPA’s policy was applied.

The West Australian, by Peter Milne, 27 March 2019

Future emissions shock for WA’s major LNG players

The LNG players that pushed back against new large projects having to offset all their greenhouse gases produce a dominant and growing share of the State’s carbon emissions from industry and power generation. 

WA Today, by Emma Young, 21 March 2019

Going carbon neutral would barely touch Woodside’s huge Pilbara profits: Thinktank

Oil and gas giant Woodside could right now completely offset all carbon emissions from its North West Shelf and Pluto operations in Western Australia for 1.1-1.5 per cent of those projects’ gross profits, according to a Canberra thinktank.

Guardian Australia, by Adam Morton, 20 March 2019

WA’s rejection of carbon-neutral guidelines leaves LNG emissions booming

Western Australia’s liquefied natural gas industry is the main driver for increased emissions but the state has refused to endorse EPA’s guidelines.

WA Today, by Emma Young, 19 March 2019

All I want to say is that, they don’t really care about us.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees will require nations to phase out coal by mid-century and leave most fossil fuel reserves in the ground. Even at 1.5 degrees, warmer, up to 90 per cent of the world’s coral reefs will die.

Environmental Protection Authority, Chair Dr Tom Hatton, 14 March 2019

Further consultation on Environmental Protection Authority greenhouse gas guidance recognised

WA Government announces EPA withdrawal on climate policy

The Premier Mark McGowan has today announced that the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has withdrawn their Air Quality Guidance which required the state’s biggest polluters to avoid, reduce and offset their emissions.

Only hours after hosting a round-table discussion with WA LNG companies and peak industry representatives, Premier Mark McGowan announced the sudden withdrawal of the EPA’s policy, published last week.

Clean State campaign manager Ms Kate Kelly said,

“The policy withdrawal is extremely disappointing given its moderate aims which only sought to offset production emissions and did not include end use pollution.

“Western Australia has an opportunity to stimulate significant employment in industries that can reduce pollution, such as the renewable energy and carbon farming industries to counter the runaway emissions from these projects. We need action on climate change now, our kids cannot wait, we cannot wait.”

Clean State polling shows that nearly 80% of Western Australians want action on climate change and believe that WA gas polluters should be regulated to offset their emissions. The Clean State campaign has collected the signatures of over 5,000 people who support the policy released by the EPA last week.

The pollution from the LNG industry in WA is a major driver in Australia’s emissions growth, with WA’s emissions rising by a staggering 27% between 2000 and 2016.

For as little as 2% of their profits Chevron could be making their pollution carbon ‘neutral’ according to Chevron’s own publicly reported emissions capacity.

Clean State released independent analysis from RepuTex Energy, revealing 4,000 new jobs would be created in land management, renewable energy and clean industries if the state government acted on requiring WA’s largest polluters to offset emissions.

“There is still an opportunity to capture significant employment and economic benefits for WA. 

Now, more than ever it is time to listen to the needs of our state and plan for a better future” Ms Kelly said.

Clean State will be supporting students in the school strike for climate action on Friday 15 March at St George’s Cathedral from 11am.

Clean State welcomes new Climate Policy from the Environmental Protection Authority

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has today released a new Air Quality Guidance which will put stronger obligations on fossil fuel companies to reduce and manage greenhouse gas emissions produced in Western Australia.

The outcome will be a ‘zero net emissions’ approach which will stimulate significant employment in industries that can reduce pollution and generate carbon credits, such as the renewable energy and carbon farming industries.

Clean State campaign manager, Ms Kate Kelly welcomed the policy adjustment saying that,

“Our children and our state now have a much brighter future because of the new Environmental Protection Authority climate policy. Fossil fuel companies will need to demonstrate that they are reducing and counterbalancing all of their climate pollution from production.  

At the same time, it provides enormous opportunity for our state’s economy to transition to using renewable energy alongside the growth of carbon offset industries here in WA.”

The new policy will bring State commitments closer in line with Australia’s international agreements and calls from climate scientists to reduce rather than increase climate pollution.

The recent upswing in Australia’s national emissions is mainly driven by the production of Western Australian Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) for export which uses gas to fuel the liquefaction process and is very energy intensive.

Only 15% of WA gas is used in Western Australia, and only a small fraction of that (around 3%) is used in homes.

Clean State commissioned report, Offsetting Emissions from LNG in WA with independent analysis shows that around 4,000 new jobs would be created, mostly in regional areas through offsetting the emissions of major polluters on projects here in Western Australia. Tree planting, native vegetation or ecological restoration and avoiding clearing will all provide carbon credits, known as ‘carbon farming’.

The policy released today provides a fantastic opportunity for moving towards the diversification of regional economies whilst generating significant social and environmental benefits.

Ms Kelly says “reinstatement and strengthening of conditions on LNG and other fossil fuel companies will send a price signal to the market but one which they can easily meet with a few days of operating profits”

“Compared to the alternative which is runaway impacts from climate change, this policy shows that WA is ready to do its part to stop climate change and it’s a win win situation which will support the right industries and jobs to grow in our economy while looking after the environment.”

OECD Review highlights need for action on pollution from WA gas processing

A newly-released OECD Review of Australia’s Environmental Performance has singled out WA’s growing LNG industry as a primary driver of Australia’s rising carbon pollution, noting that the ‘rapid increase in emissions’ from this sector has offset savings made elsewhere in Australia’s electricity sector, due to the closure of coal-fired power stations.

The report is a snapshot of Australia’s response to climate change and its progress in protecting national biodiversity. It is highly critical of Australia’s ‘ad hoc’ approach to climate change and notes that Western Australia is the only Australian State without a carbon pollution reduction target.

Clean State Campaign Manager Kate Kelly today welcomed the report, saying it provided yet more evidence of the urgent need to get pollution from WA gas processing under control.

“This report is particularly timely given that measures to control carbon pollution from WA’s two biggest gas processing facilities are currently under review by the EPA.”

“While other States have pollution reduction targets and are closing polluting coal generators, these gains are being cancelled out because WA has runaway growth in carbon pollution from new gas processing facilities.”

“Gas companies like Chevron pay little tax and no royalties, yet they are driving climate change with tens of millions of tonnes of pollution every year. It’s time this industry cleaned up its act but we know from experience that the answer is strong government action.

“Polling shows 78% of Western Australians support action by the State Government to control pollution from gas processing, and now the OECD report explains why there is an urgency to consider this a priority action as part of global efforts on climate change.

“The OECD report provides a strong signal to the WA Government that addressing pollution from the oil and gas industry must be a priority, and the good news is that such action has the potential to kick-start new industries and generate thousands of new jobs for Western Australians.

Analysis by Reputex Energy shows that if gas companies were required to invest just a few percent of their massive annual profits in climate solutions like tree planting, renewable energy and land management, around 4,000 new jobs would be created, mostly in regional WA.


Taskforce can unlock thousands of jobs by tackling LNG pollution

Clean State has called on the LNG Jobs Taskforce to focus on the huge job creation opportunities that are immediately available in WA, by LNG companies addressing their rapidly rising carbon pollution.

The LNG sector is WA’s largest polluter, and growth in this pollution is putting Australia’s international obligations under the Paris Agreement at risk.

As part of the Clean State campaign, the Conservation Council of WA (CCWA) recently released independent analysis from RepuTex Energy, revealing around 4,000 new jobs would be created in land management, renewable energy, and other industries if the LNG industry offset its greenhouse gas emissions.

CCWA Director Piers Verstegen said, “We call upon the Premier and the LNG Jobs Taskforce to focus not just on engineering and manufacturing jobs, but also consider the huge job creation potential that exists in tackling carbon pollution from the LNG industry.

“While the cost of tackling LNG pollution represents just a few percent of LNG companies’ mega profits, it represents an enormous source of jobs and benefits for Western Australians. All of these jobs and benefits can be captured here in Western Australia.”

Clean State Campaign Manager Kate Kelly said that jobs tackling carbon pollution were easy wins for the LNG Jobs Taskforce and should be considered low hanging fruit.

“The analysis shows that the majority of jobs in tackling carbon pollution will be located in regional areas. Industries such as land management, tree planting, and renewable energy would be big winners and even bigger employers.

“The LNG industry is currently the state’s largest polluter, but tackling that pollution can be turned into a huge opportunity to develop new clean industries that will position WA to be a leader in the future low carbon global economy.

“This is a win-win for jobs and the environment, and should be top of the agenda for the LNG Jobs Taskforce.”

The Guardian Australia report series: A looming crisis

The Guardian Australia reports, “the booming LNG industry is behind Australia’s expanding emissions rates, yet it is all but forgotten in the national debate on climate policy.” 

Taking a closer look at why this is a problem-in-waiting both domestically and internationally, in a series of environmental reports, is The Guardian’s Adam Morton.

Image above by Graeme Robertson for the Guardian via The Guardian. Image source:


Report reveals action on LNG pollution would unlock thousands of new jobs in WA

Clean State WA has released independent analysis from RepuTex Energy, revealing around 4,000 new jobs would be created in land management, renewable energy, and other industries if the state government reinstated and strengthened conditions requiring WA’s largest polluters to offset greenhouse gas emissions.

With a focus on offsetting growing pollution from liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects in WA, the report reveals far reaching environmental and economic benefits resulting from the development of a local carbon offsetting industry.

Conservation Council of WA (CCWA) Director Piers Verstegen said the report confirmed that state action to control pollution from the LNG industry was good for the economy, and could help kick start significant new industries in WA.

“Earlier this year, it was revealed that rapidly growing carbon pollution from LNG production in WA was putting Australia’s Paris Agreement targets at risk.

“This new research confirms that action to control that carbon pollution at a state level would result in significant new investment and employment opportunities in carbon farming, tree planting, renewable energy, land management, and other clean industries.

“We are particularly pleased to see the greatest benefits would be felt in regional WA, with significant opportunities for Indigenous employment in improved land management and carbon farming across the state’s vast rangelands.”

LNG projects are Western Australia’s largest and fastest growing source of carbon pollution, with LNG related carbon emissions rising to over 30 million tonnes per year as Chevron’s giant Wheatstone and Gorgon projects have come online in the last 12 months.

Measures to control pollution from these facilities have either proven ineffective, or were removed under the Barnett Government. WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson has ordered a review into carbon pollution controls on these projects, and it is expected that the EPA will provide advice to government in early 2019.

Reputex Energy analysis suggests that if LNG production facilities are required to offset their direct emissions, WA has abundant potential to meet modelled demand. Around 80 million tonnes of emissions reduction opportunities were identified across all possible activities.

Mr Verstegen said, “With LNG companies setting their own pollution limits under the Morrison Government’s climate policy, there is no indication that the rising pollution from LNG will be addressed by the Commonwealth any time soon.

“This report confirms that if the State Government acts now, we can capture substantial employment and economic benefits for WA, however these benefits will not be guaranteed if we wait for the Commonwealth Government to act.

“While it would deliver real benefits and jobs, the cost of offsetting carbon pollution from LNG developments represents only a few percent of the profits the Chevron and other LNG companies are generating from LNG production in WA.

“As LNG producers like Chevron pay little tax and no royalties, requiring them to offset their carbon pollution is a way to capture greater benefits from these projects for our economy, while at the same time kick starting new clean industries and helping drive the transition to renewable energy in our state.”

Read the report here

Chevron’s pollution delays costing jobs and the environment

The state’s peak environment group has renewed its call for WA’s biggest polluter to comply with Ministerial Conditions on its giant Gorgon LNG processing facility, saying that its refusal to ‘offset’ its carbon pollution was harming the environment and costing jobs in clean industries.

Today’s West Business reported that Environment Minister Stephen Dawson would give the company more time to fix its failed geosequestration facility, which is intended to inject some of the pollution from the LNG plant underground.

Conservation Council of WA (CCWA) Director Piers Verstegen welcomed the Minister’s commitment to holding Chevron to account for its pollution, but says Chevron will continue to delay the inevitable for as long as possible.

“Chevron’s WA operations produce the equivalent pollution of five coal fired power stations every year, making the company the state’s biggest polluter by far.

“The longer Chevron is allowed to delay action waiting for an unproven technology to work, the more it is costing jobs in proven industries such as tree planting, carbon farming, and renewable energy, which are ready and available to control pollution right now.

“It is critical that we bring WA’s biggest polluter to account. Every day that Chevron are allowed to delay action means more carbon pollution, and more climate change.

“At a minimum, Chevron should comply with their existing Ministerial Conditions. This means that while the geosequestration is not working, the company should offset their pollution in other ways. While Chevron is allowed to continue to ignore this requirement, the company has no incentive to make their geosequestration successful.

“Unfortunately, Chevron has a long history of avoiding their obligations. The geosequestration project was supposed to have been operational late last year. WA’s biggest polluter pays almost no tax or royalties, and the continuing refusal by Chevron to provide alternative offsets for their pollution is costing Western Australians jobs and investment in clean industries.

“We do not believe that the geosequestration will provide a long term solution – instead it is being used by Chevron as a means to avoid their responsibility for as long as possible.

“Even if the geosequestration can be made to work, it will only deal with a small portion of Chevron’s total pollution. It’s clear that strong, enforceable pollution controls are required for all of Chevron’s pollution. That would create a significant new driver for job creation in industries such as tree planting, carbon farming, environmental restoration, and renewable energy.”

Clean State Launch and Information Night

On Thursday 25 October, at PS Art Space in Fremantle, Clean State was launched to a full room of passionate people ready to take action!

The launch night featured live music from Timothy Nelson, followed by presentations from:

  • Dr Bill Hare, Physicist and Climate Scientist: The need to control WA’s gas industry/carbon pollution and transition to renewables
  • Declan Doherty, Principal Solicitor EDOWA: The need for stronger regulatory framework in WA from an environmental legal perspective
  • Kate Kelly, Clean State: Introduction to Clean State
  • Prof Carmen Lawrence: Officially launched Clean State

Check out some photos from the event below, sign up to our news and events or like our Facebook page for updates on future events.