No new gas for Victoria

 



A moratorium was placed on onshore conventional exploration and drilling in Victoria in 2014. This is due to expire on June 30, 2020. In the next few months, the Victorian government will decide whether to extend the moratorium or let it lapse. At this time of climate crisis, we need to show our politicians that we do not want ANY new gas developments in our state. 

KEY POINTS 

  • DEA demands the extension of the current moratorium on onshore conventional gas exploration in Victoria for another 5 years - we cannot afford any new fossil fuel projects. 
  • Any new fossil fuel project is inconsistent with the Victorian Government’s Climate Change Act which commits to net zero emissions by 2050. 
  • There is a climate health emergency that can only be addressed by urgently reducing emissions.
  • In addition to causing greenhouse gas emissions, gas extraction poses substantial risks to our waterways and productive farming land. Victoria’s rural communities have spoken loudly and clearly - gas fields are not welcome in rural areas. 
  • Victoria already produces twice the amount of gas used for domestic supply but most of this is exported. More gas will not mean cheaper gas for domestic consumers.


RESPONSES TO ARGUMENTS FOR LIFTING THE MORATORIUM 

Gas is a cleaner fuel than coal 

  • When burned, gas produces 50% less greenhouse gas emissions than coal.
  • However methane, the main component of natural gas, is 85 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2 over a 20-year period. 
  • A 2-3% leakage of methane at any stage of production makes gas as bad as, or worse, than coal in contributing to climate change. 
  • Such methane leakages are common - from wells, casings, transport, supply chains, accidents and decommissioned wells. 

Gas is a transition fuel 

  • By using gas, we are replacing one carbon-emitting fossil fuel with another. 
  • Gas is competing with and displacing renewable energy - gas delays the rollout of renewable energy and storage technology and infrastructure. 
  • Importantly, gas companies are investing in long term gas projects – for instance, Woodside has said it foresees gas investment over the next 20-30 years. Gas companies are NOT regarding gas as a “transition fuel”. 

Australia is on track to meet its emissions targets 

  • From the government’s own reports, Australia’s emissions are rising yearly. 
  • DEA calls for greenhouse gas emission reductions of at least 60% by 2030, and net zero emissions by 2050. 
  • Emissions from gas mined in Australia are not part of our emissions reporting when that gas is burnt overseas. However, these emissions still contribute to climate change. If we were to count these emissions as our own, Australia would be one of the worst contributors to the climate crisis. 

Conventional gas mining is less risky to health than unconventional gas mining 

  • Both conventional and unconventional gas mining require drilling, where large drills, lubricated by special ‘muds’, penetrate the ground to reach the gas. 
  • The ‘muds’ contain a wide array of chemicals, many of which are harmful to human health. These can enter ground water, adjacent land and the atmosphere through evaporation from waste-ponds. 
  • Both conventional and unconventional gas mining require vast amounts of water, taking this precious commodity away from farms, other industries and households. 
  • Both forms of gas mining also cause industrialisation of the landscape, increased truck movements, interrupted stock movement, decreased water security (quantity and quality) and social disharmony. Because of these impacts, they adversely impact rural industries, rural communities, livelihoods and mental health. 
  • The distinction between conventional and unconventional gas is not always clear 

 More gas = cheaper gas 

  • Victoria already produces more than twice the gas it needs. 
  • Australia is the world’s largest EXPORTER of natural gas. 
  • Gas exporters have entered long-term contracts to provide defined amounts of gas to various overseas markets. When Australian gas fields do not provide enough gas to satisfy their obligations, gas that could have been available to the domestic market is sold on international markets and Australian gas users are starved of supplies. This keeps domestic prices high. 
  • There has been no discussion and no guarantee that this will not continue to happen, even if there is more supply.
  •  To fix gas prices, Australia must introduce a domestic gas reservation policy to ensure a proportion of gas is set aside for the domestic market. Such a policy has existed for a decade in Western Australia and has led to a much lower domestic price in that state. 

Gas is needed for heating and cooking in homes 

  • When burnt, gas produces a range of pollutants.
  • These can reduce indoor air quality and have negative health impacts.
  • This is particularly so in modern or renovated homes that are well sealed and insulated. 
  • Without adequate ventilation, there can be a build of pollutants inside the home – including carbon monoxide. 
  • Using electrical appliances for heating and cooking is safer and also usually cheaper. 



Useful references



March 11 2020 



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