Australia’s emissions still rising, driven by WA dirty gas

The Federal Government has today released national greenhouse gas emissions figures that show Australia’s emissions continuing to climb. With the report delayed a week and despite global acknowledgement about the need to drastically reduce emissions to meet Paris agreement targets, this is the fourth straight emissions rise in a row under a coalition government.  

The major source of increased emissions is the exporting of gas to foreign countries like Japan and India. To export the gas, the production and transportation have a concentrated emissions burden, which is set to continue as new and expanding developments come online in Western Australia. WA Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is driving the surge in Australian emissions, at the same time cancelling out the net benefits of emissions reductions in the energy sector from the uptake of renewable energy production.

The Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, has fought back suggestions that Australia would continue to default on international obligations saying that gas exports allow other nations to reduce their own pollution levels relative to other forms of energy production such as coal.

The ‘gas vs coal’ argument was today refuted by Mr Mark Ogge, principal adviser at The Australia Institute:

“Even if gas is used in Australia it is likely to be little, if any, cleaner than coal. And on top of that crowds out the development of cheaper zero emissions renewables, locking in gas infrastructure and continuing emissions for decades. This is is often ignored at the policy level.”

“But once gas is exported the greenhouse gas emissions produced are just as bad or worse” he said.

“This is because processing and transport for export uses a huge amount of energy creating additional emissions. On top of that there is methane leakage at every point of process, most of which is not even accounted for. The idea that gas is ‘clean’ is fossil fuel industry spin. Only the gas industry could spin the narrative of massive emissions export as somehow reducing emissions. Like ‘clean coal’ the notion of ‘clean gas’ has been completely discredited.”

Clean State campaigner Kate Kelly agreed saying that WA LNG is a massive source of emissions at every stage of production and end use amounting to over 200 million tonnes of climate pollution a year.

“We have independent research that shows the need to better regulate our gas industry, ensuring that we are making the most of the current boom and looking ahead to a brighter future with renewables” she said.

“At a time when all other developed countries are reducing emissions, a zero net emissions approach is the only way to go. We need to make sure that we reduce LNG pollution and use any offsets or controls on that industry to grow carbon farming and land restoration projects here in WA. We need to create new jobs and renewable technology as we go – it’s the best thing we can do for our state and our kids’ future.”