My Daily Advertiser Op Ed column for 11 February 2020

by ray goodlass

Gas deal will take us into new dark age

Last week came news that Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian had announced a $2 billion energy deal to add another 70 petajoules of gas per year into the national electricity grid.

The PM claimed this would simultaneously bring down energy prices and reduce our carbon emissions. This struck me as an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms. Gas is a fossil fuel so how can it reduce our carbon emissions, I asked myself?

I’d also like to ask Michael McCormack, who reiterated the same nonsense in his victory speeches after winning the Nationals leadership ballot.

Most of the mainstream media treated this as the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I could not help but be suspicious, for surely adding to our carbon emissions would increase our contribution to global warming and climate change.

I soon found the evidence I was looking for. As the DA reported, pushing for more gas production will see Australia enter a new “dark age” by shunning scientific advice to lower emissions, Bruce Robertson from the Institute of Energy Economics and Finance Analysis warned.

He pointed out the ‘bleeding obvious’, which had been staring me in the face since I first heard the news. The deal won’t do what the government is promising, which is to simultaneously reduce prices and emissions. “Producing more polluting fuels does not lower emissions,” Mr Robertson said.

Once again Scotty from Marketing is rejecting scientific advice.

“We’re seeing that with climate policy and we’re seeing that with gas policy – we’re seeing evidence thrown out the window,” Mr Robertson said.

This appalling con job gets even worse, for the gas will come from fracking, as the  project hinges on final approvals for Santos’ Narrabri gas project. Options in Port Kembla and Newcastle are also up the state government’s sleeve.

Fracking extracts gas in a water-intensive process which results in excess salt, risking contamination to both land and other water.

Greens MP and Energy Spokesperson David Shoebridge said, “The plan between the Federal and NSW Liberal Government to prop up the failing gas industry will increase the use of unsustainable Coal Seam Gas up to 60% at a time when major industry players have been working on exit plans and the community is demanding real climate action.”
Mr Morrison claimed some of the money would go towards coal innovation to see how power generation and mining can emit less pollution. He’ll be talking about the discredited notion of carbon capture and storage next.

Worryingly, the federal government plans to make similar deals with other states. Apparently this is in lieu of developing a national energy plan. It reminds me of Scotty digging his heels in by insisting bushfire management was purely a state matter at the height of the recent bushfire crisis.

It comes as new Clean Energy Council analysis shows investment in large-scale renewable energy projects has significantly slowed.

Investments plummeted from 51 projects worth $10.7 billion in 2018 down to 28 projects worth $4.5 billion last year.

This is a dangerous plan which will only make matters worse. We are in the middle of a terrible summer of fires, drought and smoke and this is when the Coalition, State and Federal, commits to more coal and gas projects. This is a reckless and illegitimate plan that will make the climate crisis worse.

It’s 2020. We don’t need to be extracting more gas to ‘transition’ to renewable energy, we need to be building solar, wind and renewable storage now.

The plan is typical of Scotty from Marketing, for he is pretending to take action on climate change while committing to more coal, more gas, and worsening the climate crisis.

“We need a transition to 100 percent publicly owned renewable energy now and with it create thousands of highly skilled and well paid green jobs,” Mr Shoebridge said.

Abigail Boyd, Greens MP and Mining Spokesperson said, “The last thing the country needs right now is for Morrison to be advancing the interests of the fossil fuel giants ahead of the community’s needs.”

Pushing the lie that gas is a necessary transition fuel, or that more gas will reduce energy prices, while reducing carbon emissions is more than an oxymoron, it is grossly irresponsible.