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Climate fears over potential gas emissions

Australia’s gas resources could emit the equivalent of three times the world’s annual carbon emissions, a new report indicates.

The Morrison government is butting heads with environmentalists over its plans for a gas-led coronavirus recovery, which the coalition believes will create jobs and development.

Environmental groups are instead calling for a clean energy recovery, with an Australian Conservation Foundation report released on Thursday pointing to the emissions intensity of gas.

The report says that if Australia’s identified and prospective gas resources were used, they could emit three times the globe’s annual carbon emissions.

The lowest emissions estimate would still result in the gas resources emitting more than the current annual level.

ACF’s chief Kelly O’Shanassy says gas directly contributes to global warming.

“Unleashing the pollution from Australia’s full gas reserves would make it almost impossible for the world to meet Paris Agreement goals,” she said.

“The COVID pandemic’s massive disruption to our industries and jobs has deeply upset Australians, but it won’t compare to the economic disruption we will experience if our governments back dirty fossil fuels like gas over clean, renewable energy and technology.”

The research was conducted by think-tank the Australia Institute, using data from government agencies including Office of the Chief Economist and Geoscience Australia.

The institute’s climate and energy program director Richie Merzian says the research shows gas is not a transition fuel.

“It is central to the problem in the fight to address climate change,” he said.

“When the scale and potential damage of Australia’s gas resources is fully understood, it is hard for Australian policymakers to justify a so-called ‘gas-fired’ recovery.”

Australia has become the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, causing emissions to rise in that sector.

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