VOICES FOR THE EARTH: Political parties and gas
DO WE need a transition fuel as we move from fossil fuels to clean energy sources like solar and wind power and battery backups? If we do, is gas an appropriate transition fuel?
The Federal Government said yes to both of these questions which is why it is promoting its plan for a "gas-led recovery" from the COVID recession. While the government concedes that the clean energy transition is under way, it seems determined to delay that move to clean energy sources for as long as possible. This is obvious because their promotion of new gas fields and pipelines means that they will be in use for decades given the cost of developing them.
The appropriateness of promoting gas is very debatable. It is another fossil fuel - something the politicians and the gas developers and their lobbyists prefer not to mention. If they do, they claim that it is "cleaner" than coal, that it does not produce as many carbon emissions. This is convenient spin which ignores the reality that methane (the gas) is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than the carbon dioxide produced from burning coal. In addition these gas promoters never acknowledge the serious problem of how much additional gas is emitted during gas mining and the transport of gas.
While the Labor Party may not be as convinced as the Coalition Government that the COVID recovery should be gas led, they are firm supporters of expanding the mining of gas. They support the controversial Narrabri Gas Project as well as the building of further gas pipelines.
Both major federal political groupings - the Coalition (Liberal and National) and Labor receive political donations from fossil fuel interests. It would be naive to imagine these do not have an impact on policy.
And unsurprisingly the "gas led recovery" came from the Government's COVID Recovery task force which was dominated by fossil fuel interests.
Developing more gas fields and associated infrastructure will have a major impact on the nation's carbon emissions and increase the difficulty in meeting our Paris climate commitments.
On the other hand many of these developments may well become stranded assets if they do go ahead.