Australia’s emissions are trapped in a tense stand-off. As I wrote previously on RenewEconomy, while renewables are growing fast and cutting emissions, mining for fossil gas is growing just as fast, as is emissions from transport.
In the past few weeks, we can see this ‘tug of war’ playing out in real time. NSW announced a game-changing new climate policy, laying guide rails for the closure of coal and gas and the build-out of regional-powered renewable zones. But the gargantuan and controversial new Narrabri coal seam gas field was approved by the federal government. Both come with their emissions impact buried in the pages of PDFs; for the NSW plan it’s a decrease, for the CSG mine, it’s an increase.
The extraction and sale of that specific fossil fuel project would cancel out roughly half of the emissions gains from NSW’ new plan, as far as I can tell. It is probably worse, considering the criticisms of Santos’ under-reporting of methane leakages in its environment impact statements. It’s a good reminder that new renewable energy must be coupled with a reduction in the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, to get the full climate impact unlocked by new technology.