Weapons of gas destruction: lifting the lid on emissions from gas

If fully unleashed, Australia’s gas resources could be responsible for up to three times the annual carbon emissions of the entire world.

A landmark new Australia Institute Climate & Energy Program report, Weapons of gas destruction, commissioned by the Australian Conservation Foundation, is the first time the entirety of Australia’s gas project pipeline and resources have been compiled and their potential climate impact assessed.

The report finds:

  • When gas is extracted, transported or burned it releases greenhouse gas emissions; the climate impact from ‘fugitive’ gas emissions has been under reported in Australia.
  • Australia’s existing pipeline of 22 gas projects, along with identified and prospective gas resources, could emit up to three times the annual world emissions.
  • Taking a global carbon budget approach to meeting the Paris Agreement goal of 1.5 degrees, Australia’s use of gas resources would use up 28% of the global carbon budget.
  • Compared to the world’s largest corporate polluters, unleashing Australia’s gas resources would emit more than double the historical emissions of Chevron, Exxon, BHP and Rio Tinto put together.
  • The gas industry itself is a major user of gas, burning twice as much gas as Australian households and nearly as much as the manufacturing sector.

“Gas is directly contributing to global warming and unleashing the pollution from Australia’s full gas reserves would make it almost impossible for the world to meet Paris Agreement goals,” said Kelly O’Shanassy, CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation.

“For the first time the climate pollution from Australia’s dangerous pipeline of new gas projects has been quantified in this report.

“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,” Ms O’Shanassy said.

“Our research shows fossil gas is not a transition fuel, it is central to the problem in the fight to address climate change,” said Richie Merzian, Climate & Energy Program Director at the Australia Institute.

“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.

“Angus Taylor cannot do justice to both his portfolios of Energy and Emissions Reductions if he backs expanding Australia’s gas industry in his forthcoming Technology Roadmap.

“Gas is a high-pollution industry that won’t create jobs while unleashing triple the world’s annual emissions into the atmosphere. To say it is ‘lose-lose’ is an understatement,” Mr Merzian said.

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Anna Chang Communications Director

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anna@australiainstitute.org.au