VOICES FOR THE EARTH: The government and methane
MONTHS ago the Federal Government revealed it was looking at a gas led recovery from the economic slump the nation is in as a result of the COVID crisis. Last week we heard more about this plan.
This latest energy ‘policy’ is another disappointment. Since it came to power in 2013 the Federal Government has introduced and then abandoned a series of energy policies, largely because of the intransigence of the climate deniers in its ranks who are determined to continue business as usual with fossil fuels.
This latest is just another version of business as usual. Instead of coal, we have gas – methane – another fossil fuel. The government’s claim that gas is not as emissions intensive as coal ignores the problem of fugitive emissions during gas mining and transport. And methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas which, although it remains in the atmosphere for a shorter time than CO2, is about 86 times more potent per unit of mass over 20 years according to recent studies.
The folly of replacing one fossil fuel with another is just one of the problems with the government’s latest energy plan. Another is the economic situation of the gas industry globally.
According to Bruce Robertson, a gas analyst with the Institute of Energy, Economics and Financial Analysis, the gas industry around the world is in “dire straits” for a variety of reasons. There is a global gas glut with gas companies around the world declaring bankruptcy and major projects being shelved.
And yet we have the Federal Government supporting the expansion of gas mining and pipeline infrastructure and construction of a gas-fired peaking plant in the Hunter Valley. And if the private sector won’t build this plant, the government says it will build it. Robertson says, “if investors won’t back it, why should taxpayers?”
If the Federal Government gets its way, we will be locked in to using gas for around 30 years, endangering our Paris climate commitment as well as exposing taxpayers to the likelihood of a stranded asset.
Looks as if the long term national interest is once again a politician-inflicted casualty.