Labor locks in gas expansion in new crime against the climate

Labor’s new gas strategy pledges its support for a massive fossil fuel expansion, going all out to back mining industry profits.

This flies in the face of the urgent need to stop burning fossil fuels and has led to widespread anger.

This extended into the ranks of the ALP, with the Labor Environment Action Network (LEAN) issuing a statement describing the “biggest outpouring of anger from LEAN members over a Labor policy since 2013”. Five inner-city Labor MPs also put out statements distancing themselves from the policy.

Climate scientists are increasingly panicking about the climate emergency. The last 12 months broke another climate record, reaching 1.61 degrees above average, after the hottest April on record.

The Guardian recently surveyed 350 top climate scientists, with 77 per cent believing global heating will reach a devastating level of at least 2.5 degrees. “I am scared mightily—I don’t see how we are able to get out of this mess,” one said.

The “future gas strategy” commits to greater government support for opening huge new gas fields like the Pilliga/Narrabri in NSW and Scarborough in WA.

Labor is essentially adopting Scott Morrison’s “gas-fired recovery” policies that Labor itself rubbished while in opposition.

It will hand more subsidies to the gas industry through government funding of $556 million to map the country’s soil and seafloor to speed up mining exploration, and $100 million to help fast-track environmental approvals.

Resources Minister Madeleine King said the focus on new fossil fuel projects was designed to keep extraction going “out to 2050 and beyond”.

The government has tried to justify this by saying that NSW and Victoria will face domestic gas shortages as existing fields deplete by 2028.

But this is the result of policies that have allowed gas companies to export massive amounts of gas so they can make bigger profits.

Tim Buckley from Climate Energy Finance has pointed out that, “East Australia produces five times as much gas as we use domestically, most of it exported”.

King is also parroting the lines used by Scott Morrison and then Energy Minister Angus Taylor that gas is a “transition fuel” that is needed to reduce carbon emissions.

But Labor’s only answers to how it can reduce emissions while supporting more fossil fuels are offsets and the myth of carbon capture and storage. It is devoting $12 million to provide regulatory and administrative support for offshore carbon capture, despite its continued failure over decades.

The government has refused to consider efforts to reduce the use of gas. Household use of gas for heating and cooking could be eliminated altogether by switching to electric appliances—reducing total gas use by almost 20 per cent. There are also immediate alternatives for power generation through using batteries and other storage methods alongside renewable energy.

Labor’s backing for more fossil fuels is a criminal act that means disaster for the climate.

By James Supple


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