Top scientists “strongly reject” Fracking Inquiry emissions findings – call again for ban on fracking

A joint statement by 41 of Australia’s top scientist and experts, published today by The Australia Institute, has “strongly rejected” the WA Fracking Inquiry’s analysis of potential greenhouse gas emissions that the Government relied on to lift the fracking moratorium.

Signatories to the joint statement include many of Australia’s leading climate scientists, unlike the Fracking Inquiry which included no climate scientists.

The misleading assumptions of the Inquiry that led to the “seriously underestimated” potential climate impacts of fracking include:

  • Complete failure to understand the scientific implications of the Paris Agreement for greenhouse gas mitigation or awareness of the implications of the IPCC Special Report on 1.5oC.
  • Ignoring combustion emissions which are by far the largest category of emissions (70-80%).
  • Assuming fracking would be small scale and not exported without any economic or gas market analysis, and in direct contradiction of government and industry statements and experience elsewhere.
  • Only considering the marginal difference between emissions from fracked and conventional gas rather than the actual lifecycle emissions.

“This is a damning indictment of the Inquiry’s findings on the global warming impacts. The findings from the Fracking Inquiry cannot be relied upon when assessing the risks of fracking or making policy on this issue,” says Mark Ogge, Principal Advisor at The Australia Institute.

“The Fracking Inquiry has used highly questionable assumptions to systematically understate potential climate impacts. The reality is that fracking is likely to result in large emissions that are totally unacceptable in the current circumstances. The Government should take the responsible course and ban fracking in Western Australia,” says the Premier’s Scientist of the Year Professor Peter Newman.   

“Climate Analytics undertook detailed rigorous analysis of potential emissions and found fracking could result in many billions of tonnes of emissions. The Inquiry’s assertion that it would produce just 0.4 million tonnes of additional emissions is simply absurd and based on demonstrably erroneous assumptions.  The report clearly suffered from an absence of climate science expertise and from there being no scientific peer review, ” says Dr Bill Hare, globally recognised emissions expert and CEO of Climate Analytics.

“To unlock this very large potential source of greenhouse gas emissions without any carbon budget analysis, when we know that any additional fossil fuel development is completely inconsistent with keeping global warming at safe levels, is grossly irresponsible,” says Professor Will Steffen, leading Australian climate scientist. 

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