XRWA and other climate activists disrupt gas industry shindig

XRWA and other climate activists disrupt gas industry shindig

Extinction Rebellion Australia, 23 Oct 2023

The WA climate movement sent a message with loud drumming and songs for everyone attending the International Gas Union’s cocktail party at the Perth Convention Centre – we need to leave gas in the ground, starting with the North West Shelf Extension!

Representatives from the world's biggest gas companies were at an International Gas Union meeting in Perth last week to discuss the future of gas and how they can continue to profit from gas - even while the climate catastrophe is accelerating. The evening cocktail party was meant to be an outdoor event with drinks and music but participants were forced into a corner inside by security and were not allowed to look outside or ask questions about what was happening.

The International Gas Union (IGU) has stated top-line support for mitigation of climate change but in practice strongly advocates for policies in favour of fossil gas, which they claim is a clean source of energy. The IGU also refers to hydrogen produced from fossil gas as a 'renewable' gas!

Of course this is a blatant lie. Gas is extracted by drilling, mining and fracking processes, which have a devastating impact on the environment and release pollutants that contribute to global warming. If fully unleashed — Australia’s gas resources could be responsible for up to three times the annual climate pollution of the entire world.

Protest at the International Gas Union evening party

Despite this, the Australian Government continues to hand over billions of taxpayers’ dollars to coal and gas companies and invest in gas projects, and like other national governments, is using criminalisation to silence climate activists. It's clear that the fossil fuel industry has our governments in its pocket.

Bernard Keane in Crikey says that Australia's regulatory structure means that these mostly foreign companies can strangle east coast domestic gas supplies, forcing prices up for consumers and businesses, while making a fortune on which they pay little tax. See Australia’s rotten gas cartel is a climate, economic and fiscal criminal.

While coal and gas companies pay almost no tax, Australian taxpayers subsidise the coal and gas industries to the tune of $20,000 a minute.

At the same time, gas companies are receiving billions in handouts from the government while Australians pay export prices for gas extracted from Australia during a cost-of-living crisis.

Protesters at the International Gas Union evening party

Thanks to Western Australia's press monopoly, fossil fuels companies don't even need to pay for adverts. The latest coverage of Woodside gas in the Western Australian is an opinion piece by Woodside CEO Meg O’Neill specifically focused on Woodside’s $17bn Scarborough gas development, which hit a legal snag last month. Readers of the Western Australian should be reminded that Seven Group Holdings, the biggest shareholder in the company that owns the West Australian, has a stake in a major gas development in the state.

Adam Morton in The Guardian noted that no other opinions were provided in the report and in his article, provided a very different picture. See The West Australian goes big on Woodside’s ‘keeping lights on’ claim but keeps readers in dark on climate.

According to Morton, The West Australian's one-sided coverage prompted some sharp commentary from journalists and climate campaigners, publicly and privately. It was seen as consistent with allegations by senior figures in WA that the gas industry has effective “ownership” of the state.

Woodside CEO O'Neill implied that Western Australians would be the chief beneficiaries of Woodside gas. Yet only 5% of the gas from Woodside's Scarborough plant is earmarked for broader uses that might be summarised as keeping the lights on in homes, schools and hospitals. The overwhelming bulk - 85% – will be shipped overseas as liquified natural gas.

Banner at the International Gas Union protest

There was no discussion in the report of other potential solutions to meet a projected shortfall in local supply such as those mentioned in the Australian Energy Market Operator's recent industry report, including increasing supply from existing production facilities for a short time. The AEMO report also says the state’s big gas users could be taking steps to reduce gas use and more rapidly boost renewable energy.

And of course, O’Neill’s opinion piece included no reference to the climate crisis, even though according to Climate Analytic, gas became the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions growth globally last decade.

Like coal, gas is a dangerous fossil fuel that belongs in the past. We need to transition out of coal and gas exports if we want to tackle the climate catastrophe, but most of all - we need to change the system that puts profit above the environment and the future of humanity.

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