Climate and Energy – The Great Debate on Impact

The Australia Institute’s (TAI) Climate & Energy Program report, Weapons of gas destruction, claims to be a study that takes into account Australia’s gas project pipeline and its potential climate impact.  However, in reality, it is simply spin wrapped in exaggerated and distorted talking points.

An objective and fact-based analysis of the information presented in the report highlights TAI’s hyperbole and over-reach.

For example, recent comments by the International Energy Agency and the Australian Chief Scientist also reinforce the importance of natural gas in a low emission future:

“When I’ve talked about gas as being important to the transition, I’m talking about gas as being important to transition us into an electricity system where we have more solar and more wind, and we can bring it on faster by using gas to be a backstop to firm up the supply.” Dr Finkel, Chief Scientist, Senate Estimates, 28 October 2020

“Overall gas demand is expected to recover quickly, reaching 4 600 bcm by the end of the decade, meaning that it is nearly 15% higher in 2030 than in 2019. Emerging market and developing economies lead the growth…” World Energy Outlook 2020, p. 189.

Economics

TAI’s report largely centres its argument around emissions, with an economic narrative weaved throughout. Unsurprisingly, TAI has scrutinised the Australian Government’s proposed plan for a ‘gas fired’ COVID-19 recovery. We’ve outlined some facts about the considerable economic benefit of Australia’s oil and gas industry.

The report outlines a wide range of statistics but fails to acknowledge the importance of Australia’s oil and gas industry as a key driver of Australia’s economy and our modern way of life. It ignores that natural gas is a major energy source to nearly 70 percent of Australian homes through either a network connection providing natural gas or a bottled gas alternative.

It also ignores the fact that more than five million Australian homes are connected to a gas distribution network. Natural gas provides almost 24 percent of Australia’s primary energy and almost one third of all gas consumed in Australia is used by manufacturers which supports hundreds of thousands of jobs.

And it ignores that since 2010 the industry has invested more than $473 billion into the Australian economy.

Emissions

In the report, TAI reason that a discussion on a gas-led recovery requires pitting gas development against any hope of a low emissions future. TAI’s data is exaggerated, distorted and discounts the vital and varied role that natural gas can play as part of a transition to Australia and Asia’s lower emissions future. As we have outlined on our website, it does not have to be one or the other.

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