New Woodside Gas Project in Western Australia ‘Bet Against’ Global 1.5 ° C Target, Report Says | Climate crisis


Energy giant Woodside and Australian governments are betting against the success of the Paris climate agreement by supporting gas development that would dramatically increase greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report.

Woodside announced last month that it has made a final investment decision to develop the $ 16 billion Scarborough-to-Pluto liquefied natural gas (LNG) project off the northwest coast of Western Australia.

The move has been hailed by the Federal Government, Scott Morrison saying he “did a bit of a jig” and “couldn’t be more thrilled” when it was announced, and the Labor Prime Minister of Western Australia , Mark McGowan, suggesting he could change the law if a court attempt to arrest him is successful.

Woodside chief executive Meg O’Neill said the project was in line with the Paris agreement target of trying to limit global heating to 1.5 ° C due to the Scarborough gas field, about 375 km off the coast, having a relatively low carbon dioxide level.

A new report from global research firm Climate Analytics, titled Warming Western Australia, disputes this. The report found that total emissions from Project Pluto are expected to rise to 1.37 billion tonnes of CO2 – nearly three times Australia’s annual carbon pollution – and its development would slow the global push to achieve net zero.

An earlier assessment by the WA Conservation Council and the Australia Institute had put the likely emissions resulting from the lifetime of the plant at 1.6 billion tonnes.

Both said the company significantly underestimated total emissions production by not counting all elements of the project, which includes the Scarborough offshore gas field, the expansion of an existing onshore LNG production facility. and the creation of a second processing “train”, the construction of a major gas line, and an expected ten-fold increase in local gas capacity in WA.

Based on figures from the latest report, local gas extraction, production and use would add around 2% to Australia’s current annual emissions. The state’s annual emissions would increase by more than 10%.

Most of the gas would be sold and burned in Asia. Although the company and government have said it will meet demand, the report says it could help “lock in” carbon-intensive energy use when zero-emission alternatives exist.

Bill Hare, chief executive of Climate Analytics, said the development was “an extraordinary and shocking thing” that was completely at odds with government claims it would dramatically reduce emissions. The report said it “represents a bet against the world implementing the Paris Agreement”.

“It adds emissions when everyone is talking about reducing them,” Hare said.

He said if all countries act on the same principles as Woodside and the main political parties – that there is no need to restrict the supply of fossil fuels – the world is heading for a temperature rise of between 3C and 4C – “a warning rate that we haven’t seen in 55 million years”.

The report examined Woodside’s proposal to buy carbon offsets to effectively offset its emissions in Australia. He said the company had not guaranteed that the planned offsets would be in addition to what would have happened anyway and are mostly not expected until 2040. The Glasgow Climate Pact, agreed by more than 190 countries last month, including Australia, underscored the need to deepen emissions reductions “in this critical decade” before 2030.

Hare said the International Energy Agency, which has been cited by Woodside and representatives of the gas industry as supporting new developments, released a net zero emissions scenario this year that “abundantly stated that” no further exploration of fossil fuels is expected to take place.

Guardian Australia has asked Woodside to respond to the main findings of the report. A spokesperson for the company said its estimate of total development lifecycle emissions – 878 million tonnes, nearly double Australia’s annual emissions – was correct and had been accepted by the National Federal Authority for the Safety and Environmental Management of Offshore Oil. He said emissions from the gas “would be about half that of the same electricity produced from coal.”.

Hare said the company was misleading that the project would release 878 million tonnes because that only counted the Scarborough Reservoir process gas emissions, as he predicted, and the state government had approved, treatment of gas from other fields at the expanded Pluto site. treatment facility.

A state government spokesperson said the McGowan government is committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and “is developing a credible path to get there.” “Guided by science, we are developing milestones, sectoral emission reduction strategies and legislative consultations as key priorities,” they said.

Hare said the company had not released anything to support its claim that the project would reduce global emissions and appeared to have ignored a suggestion from the IEA and the Reserve Bank that there was a strong possibility that the market Australian LNG collapses before 2030 as South Korea and Japan move towards green hydrogen and renewables under the Paris agreement.

“I can’t find a single argument that is correct in what Woodside said, and his line has been swallowed and regurgitated by the state government,” he said.

Australia’s support for new fossil fuel developments was criticized at the recent Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow. The Morrison government signed a pact that called on all countries to return in 2022 with strengthened emission reduction targets for 2030, but issued a statement just hours after the summit ended, claiming its target – a drop of 26-28% from 2005 levels, about half of that predicted by the UK, US and EU – would not change.

The state government’s approval of the Scarborough Development will be challenged by the Washington State Conservation Council in the state Supreme Court later this month.


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