Case for gas as a transition fuel falls apart 

The federal government is still backing in gas as a transition fuel between coal and renewables, even though evidence is piling up for this being a dangerous fiction– both for the environment and Australian shareholders.

The federal government has secured 300 petajoules (PJ) of gas until the end of 2030 for the East Coast gas market. Energy and climate change minister Chris Bowen called opposition to the move “reckless and pointless peacocking” that threatens the energy transition.

The announcement of more gas – and demonisation of opposition to it – came on the same day as news that Australia’s flagship gas projects have cost shareholders $US19 billion ($A29 billion).

Federal Labor has also approved or supported 16 new fossil fuel projects since it was elected in 2022, which have the potential to release 6.9 billion tonnes of carbon over their lifetimes.

The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) has released financial modelling that shows Australia’s LNG projects did not generate value for shareholders.

Across the LNG industry, cost overruns and delays will see the industry deliver a negative $US1.8 billion return to shareholders.

Gas has long been held up as the cleaner option to coal, but over the last two years studies have started to turn against that idea.

This year researchers from five prominent universities in the US working with NASA, found that gas projects that leak more than 4.7% of their methane are “on par with life-cycle coal emissions from methane leaking coal mines”.

Methane is a potent but short-lived greenhouse gas. It is about 80 times more potent as a warming gas as carbon dioxide, but degrades into carbon dioxide within around 10 years.

This year investigators from the  Clean Air Task Force found methane “pouring out” of leaks or deliberate vents in gas pipelines and at gas plants in Queensland and New South Wales.

For every tonne of carbon pollution that will be reduced by the Albanese government’s current climate policies to 2030, over 7 tonnes of pollution could result from new fossil fuel projects that have received approvals or other material support since the  government came to office.

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