Open letter: 30 top scientists call for NT fracking ban

30 of Australia’s most respected scientists and energy experts have signed an open letter, published by the Australia Institute today, calling on the Northern Territory and Federal Governments not to allow fracking in the Territory to proceed under any circumstances.

The Fracking Inquiry found that a single gas field that would increase Australia’s emissions by 5%. The scientists note that this “completely incompatible with Australia’s carbon budget and our commitments under the Paris agreement”.

The scientists, including several of Australia’s most respected climate scientists, note that the Northern Territory is in a region likely to experience the most severe impacts of global warming. This includes a dramatic increase in extremely hot days, with days over 35 degrees Celsius in Darwin projected to increase from 11 per year now to up to 308 by 2070.

The Fracking Inquiry also found a scenario submitted by the NT Government would have emissions equivalent to 18% of Australia’s emissions every year. 

Australia Institute analysis found that if all NT shale gas was exploited, it could be the equivalent of up to 60 times Australia’s current annual emissions or building 130 coal power plants and operating them for 40 years.

“This gas development is incompatible with Australia’s obligations as a signatory to the Paris climate agreement. It should not go ahead under any circumstances”, Says ANU climate scientist and signatory to the open letter, Will Steffen.

“Climate change already poses serious risks for the Northern Territory, and these will escalate unless greenhouse gas emissions are rapidly reduced. Extremely hot days – those over 35°C – are expected to increase dramatically. Combined with high humidity, such extreme heat will make just being outside not only uncomfortable, but dangerous to health, for a large proportion of the year in many areas, including Darwin.”

“Most fossil fuel reserves simply cannot be burned if we want places like the Northern Territory to remain habitable. Opening up vast new fossil fuel developments is dangerous, irresponsible and unnecessary.”

“It would be a tragic irony to have massive amounts of gas from the NT fueling heatwaves destroying everything we love about the NT to the point of making it virtually uninhabitable.” says Mark Ogge, Principal Advisor at The Australia Institute.

“A single shale gas field would triple the Northern Territories emissions. Territorians working hard to reduce their emissions would wonder why they are bothering”

“If each new shale gas field increases Australia’s emissions by 5%, other industries like farming and tourism will have to reduce more so we can still meet our Paris commitments.”

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