Top scientists call for NT to keep gas in the ground

Twenty of Australia’s top scientists are calling to permanently ban fracking in the Northern Territory because of its impact on climate change.

The joint statement, written in response to the Final Report of the NT Fracking Inquiry, commends the Inquiry’s findings that the increase of greenhouse gases that would result from fracking is “unacceptable” and again urged the Government to ban fracking.  

The scientists also firmly rejected the suggestion that if these emissions were “offset” it could result in an “acceptable outcome”.

Signatories to the statement include several of Australia’s most respected climate scientists including Graeme Pearman, John Church, Will Steffen and Steven Sherwood.

The Fracking Inquiry had no climate scientists on its Panel.

“Approval of any major fossil fuel development in the NT in current circumstances would be a total abrogation of the fiduciary and security responsibilities entrusted to the NT government.” says, former Head of the Australian Coal Association and CEO of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Ian Dunlop.

“We commend the Inquiry for recognising that the very large greenhouse gas emissions that would result from unconventional gas development in the Northern Territory would be unacceptable.” says Professor Will Steffen, leading climate scientist and Councillor at the Climate Council.

“Opening up huge new sources of fossil fuels like NT shale gas is completely incompatible with Australia’s commitments under the Paris Agreement.”

“Most existing reserves of fossil fuels need to remain in the ground, and certainly no new reserves like NT shale gas can be developed, if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

 “The Northern Territory is facing potentially devastating impacts from global warming including increasing extreme heat and extreme weather events,” says the Australia Institute’s Research Director, Rod Campbell.

“Allowing fracking would be pouring fuel on the fire and a threat to the wellbeing of all Territorians” Campbell said.

Please find the joint statement and signatories list below.

 _________________________________________________

Joint Response to the Greenhouse Gas Emissions chapter of the Final Report of the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory

April 2018

Dear Chief Minister and members of the Northern Territory Government,

As signatories to the Open Letter on the global warming impacts of NT fracking published on February 27, 2018, our view remains that development of onshore shale gas and shale oil fields in the Northern Territory should not go ahead under any circumstances.

We welcome the conclusion of the Final Report of the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory that:

“the residual risk (after mitigation of methane levels) of life cycle GHG emissions remains either ‘medium’ or ‘high’, and this is unacceptable”[1]

However, we do not accept that “offsetting” the domestic emissions of unconventional gas development would represent “an acceptable outcome”.

The science is clear that most existing fossil fuel reserves must remain unburned. Development of new fossil fuel resources is incompatible with the goal of the 2015 Paris climate agreement that aims to limit the rise in global temperature to well below 2.0°C above pre-industrial levels and to make every effort to limit the rise to 1.5°C. [2]

As scientists and experts concerned about the wellbeing of the people of the Northern Territory, Australia and the rest of the world, we strongly urge that onshore shale gas and shale oil development does not go ahead in the Northern Territory under any circumstances.


[1] Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing (2018) Final Report p 210.

[2] Steffen W (2015) Unburnable carbon: Why we need to leave fossil fuels in the ground. Climate Council of Australia. Stephan W (2018) Submission to Hydraulic Fracturing Taskforce, Northern Territory.

Signatories:

Prof Lesley Hughes

Councillor, Climate Council; Ecologist, Macquarie; IPCC Lead Author;

Prof. Rick Cavicchioli

Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, University of NSW

Prof Hilary Bambrick

Chair of Population Health, WSU

Prof Will Steffen

Councillor, Climate Council; Climate Scientist, ANU;

Assoc Prof Tilman Ruff AM, FRACP

Global Health, Melb; Co-President, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (Nobel Peace Prize, 1985)

Dr Peter Sainbury

Adjunct Association Professor, School of Public, Health School of Public Health University of Sydney

Em Prof Mark L Wahlqvist AO

Medicine, Monash; Former Head of Medicine at Prince Henry’s Hospital

Luke Kemp

Senior Economist, Vivid Economics

Prof Colin Butler

Public Health, UC; co-founder BODHI Australia

Professor John Church

Professor

Tim Forcey

Former AEMO Gas Principal, International Gas Industry Engineer Exxon, Esso BHP, former researcher Universitym of Melbourne Energy Institute (MEI)

Professor Steven Sherwood

ARC Laureate Fellow

Brett Murphy

Senior Research Fellow / ARC Future Fellow

Victor Galea

Associate Professor

Dr David Holmes

Director, Climate Change Communication Research Hub

Graeme Pearman

Noted multi-award winning scientist and committed environmentalist

Dr Liz Hanna PhD, MPH, BA, RCCN, RN FPHAA, FACN

Honorary Senior Fellow
Climate Change Institute
Australian National University

Ellin Lede

Phd Researcher, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, UK

Tim Forcey

Former AEMO Gas Principal, International Gas Industry Engineer Exxon, Esso BHP, former researcher Universitym of Melbourne Energy Institute (MEI)

Ian Dunlop

Former Head of the Australian Coal Association and CEO of the Australian Institute of Company

Media Enquiries

Anna Chang Communications Director

0422 775 161

anna@australiainstitute.org.au