Plans to expand highly polluting fossil fuel export facilities in Western Australia’s north-west are directly increasing the likelihood of fires, floods and droughts, according to the new Go Beyond Gas campaign launched in Perth.
The Conservation Council of WA (CCWA)—the organisation behind the new Go Beyond Gas campaign—points to WA’s biggest polluters—the likes of Woodside, Santos and Chevron— as the biggest contributors to the climate crisis from the millions of tonnes of methane and carbon dioxide emissions they produce each year.
Western Australia is one of the world’s biggest producers and exporters of gas—a fossil fuel which is 86 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. That trapped heat contributes to more frequent and more extreme weather events, both in Australia and overseas.
Methane also produces CO2 when burned, particularly in the case of LNG which is exported in huge quantities from facilities in WA.
“The gas industry has a greater negative impact on the climate crisis than any other industry in Western Australia,” CCWA fossil fuels program manager Anna Chapman said.
“Gas—and the pollution it creates—is a huge problem, not just here in WA, but globally.
“The simple fact is that, because of gas, WA is disproportionately making the climate crisis much worse. We’re not doing our bit, and no matter what else we might do to help tackle pollution, unless we specifically tackle gas pollution, we’re not going to get very far.”
Western Australia is the only state with emissions above 2005 levels (4%), despite the national target for emissions reductions of 43% by 2030. This is in stark contrast to South Australia and Victoria which have reduced their emissions by 42% and 32%, respectively. This increase in emissions in WA has coincided with growth of gas production in the state, with companies like Woodside looking to extend and expand their operations well into the 2070s.
Plans to develop new gas fields like Scarborough and Browse—as well as extending the life of highly polluting processing facilities, like the North West Shelf—have proven increasingly controversial in Western Australia and nationally.
In particular, Woodside has come under sustained criticism for its continued pursuit of new fossil fuel projects in Western Australia and for its failure to properly account for the serious environmental impact of its emissions. The company is one of Australia’s biggest polluters, emitting an estimated 75 million tonnes of carbon emissions last year in exchange for more than $9.6 billion (AUD) in profits.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—the world’s foremost scientific body on climate—has made it clear that there should be no more gas projects built if the world is to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
In its latest report, the IPCC warned that governments must commit to tougher emissions reductions targets and accelerate the phase out of polluting fossil fuels—including gas—to keep warming below 1.5 degrees over pre-industrial levels.