From climate pariah to climate saviour? What the petroleum industry can do about climate change

by Andrew Hopkins

A new report from The Australia Institute explores what the petroleum industry can do to simultaneously pursue its financial interests and the interests of the global climate.

The report, written by Australian National University Emeritus Professor Andrew Hopkins, outlines four key areas where the oil and gas industry’s interests align with the global goal of reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.

  1. The petroleum industry should be lobbying for a price on carbon. This will impact more heavily on coal than gas and assist in bringing coal-fired power to an end, leading to a greater role for gas in the short to medium term.
  2. From extraction and transport to distribution and storage, huge amounts of gas escape with implications for safety and climate. Reducing these leaks is clearly in the interests of the industry and policy makers.
  3. Huge amounts of greenhouse gas are being released from melting in permafrost areas, particularly in the Arctic. The petroleum industry’s great expertise in finding and extracting pockets of gas should be directed at this problem, with appropriate regulation.
  4. The petroleum industry already has expertise in biofuel production. Policy makers need to encourage the development of these skills towards algae and biochar production that can work to efficiently sequester carbon in soil for long periods.

Full report