Climate warning
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Malcolm Turnbull

Climate warning

The Australian government admits its funding is supporting the gas industry

Labor is struggling to get its story straight on why it is helping fund a major expansion of the fossil fuel sector in the NT Events in Canberra this week point to a significant political battleground for the next federal election. More than 80 doctors converged on the capital to protest against government support for fossil fuel expansion in the Northern Territory. It might not sound like that many people, but it’s representative of a bigger movement backed by several crossbenchers, including David Pocock and Monique Ryan. About 2,300 medical professionals have backed a call for the Albanese government to withdraw $1.5bn funding for an industrial development at Middle Arm, south of Darwin. The funding is a carryover from the Morrison era. Labor came to power last year planning to cut support for the Coalition’s never-delivered “gas-led recovery” from the pandemic, and it did in several cases. But the money for the NT development survived. As Guardian Australia’s Lisa Cox has reported, the government knows this is intended to support the development of the large Beetaloo Basin gas resource in remote country south of Middle Arm – it just doesn’t say so publicly. Labor has struggled to get its story straight on gas in the NT. The project is described as a “sustainable development precinct”. Anthony Albanese told parliament on Tuesday that one project at Middle Arm was “potentially associated with fossil fuels” but five were for clean energy and resources, including hydrogen, critical minerals and solar. We know from documents released under freedom of information laws this is not how it has been described internally. A briefing to the government by environment department officials shortly after Labor took office in July last year described Middle Arm as “a key enabler” allowing the development of the Beetaloo so that gas could be transported north – that is, extracted, processed and mostly exported as liquified natural gas – with a goal of “further benefiting the NT economy”. The evidence is that new gas projects are at odds with dealing with the climate crisis The ABC has reported on separate documents that showed the NT Labor government – an unabashed and at times aggressive supporter of gas industry expansion – describing Middle Arm as a “new demand gas centre” in its original pitch to Infrastructure Australia. None of this means there won’t be climate friendly elements to the development at Middle Arm. But it tells us that its reason for existing includes fossil fuel growth and distribution. The foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, this week described the project as “infrastructure that will develop clean industries as well as enabling Australia’s gas industry” during an economic transition. Why does this matter? Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: because the evidence is that large-scale new gas developments are at odds with attempts to deal with the climate crisis. The International Energy Agency said more than two years ago that there should be no new oil and gas fields if we are serious about dealing with global heating and reaching net zero emissions by 2050. Yes, gas will continue to be used for some time yet. We still use quite a bit of it, though not as much as is sometimes implied: about 80% is exported or used locally by the export industry. It will take time to electrify homes and businesses, and gas is likely to have a ongoing niche role in Australia as a standby electricity source and in a handful of industries where it cannot be easily replaced. But if the government is to be consistent on climate – and if it is genuine in its support for attempts to limit average global heating to 1.5C, as it claims – it should publicly embrace the idea that we need to use as little gas as possible. The goal should be have enough gas to meet falling demand, not to expand the industry in an offshore cash grab. That’s the project that’s being embarked on in the NT and off the northern Western Australian coast. It’s not about helping address the climate crisis. There is ample evidence that gas has substantial emissions. Climate Analytics found gas was the largest source of emissions growth globally, surpassing coal. Carbon offsets and carbon capture and storage are not the answers to stopping that. In many cases there are affordable, clean alternatives. There are different views on how the gas industry should be regulated. A starting point should be that it doesn’t receive public funding. The resources minister, Madeleine King, might argue otherwise, but the current Middle Arm funding is a subsidy that at least in part works against what the country is trying to achieve. Labor is clearly divided on gas. The NT government backs the industry in the name of economic development and dismisses scientific arguments as trolling from big city southerners. King says gas can lift millions out of poverty, an argument that looks shaky given the biggest customer for Australian gas is Japan, a wealthy country that analysts say has been backtracking on its climate commitments. Others in Labor have been more critical. Some doubt whether many new projects will be economically viable. The industry minister, Ed Husic, has acknowledged Australia is not short of gas and has suggested gas companies are greedy. The climate change and energy minister, Chris Bowen, has introduced policies that industry leaders have not welcomed. Those policies will have to get tougher: a new target for 2035 is due before the election. There is a long way to go before then, but I suspect the biggest issue for the growing cohort of voters motivated by the climate crisis will be whether the government plans to keep supporting fossil fuel expansion. As we saw last year, they are increasingly willing to take their support elsewhere if they don’t like the answer. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/aug/10/the-australian-government-admits-its-funding-is-supporting-the-gas-industry-thats-politically-risky?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Other

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    Dear Patrik Lobergh Your climate warning has received over 50 agrees! We have reached out to Australian Government by email and requested a response. I will keep you updated on any progress! To reach more people and increase the chance of a response, click the Share button above to share the review on your social accounts. For every new member that joins We Don't Have Time from your network, we will plant a tree and attribute it to you! /Adam, We Don't Have Time

    1
    • Kevin

      44 w

      How is this possible..very humiliating coming from the Aussie govt.

      5
      • Komu Daniel

        44 w

        this is disheartening from Australian government

        7
        • Richard S

          44 w

          🇦🇺Labor🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿👑Lock up Immigrants identifitly (White Aust Policy)Lacking in Intelligence No Long term Sustainable plan Locking themselves out of 🌐 green market Still #Logging Old Growth Forests Polluting ocean with salmon farming

          6
          • Elizabeth Gathigia

            44 w

            It's big disappointment from Australia government

            7
            • Hilda Wangui

              44 w

              Very heartbreaking decision by Australian government

              14
              • Ajema Lydiah

                44 w

                disappointing a bad decision to make

                7
                • bonke reinhard

                  44 w

                  I think Australia government has not made the right decision

                  6
                  • Rashid Kamau

                    44 w

                    That is so sad

                    6
                    • Princess

                      44 w

                      The Australian government's acknowledgment of funding the gas industry is disheartening, as it may perpetuate reliance on fossil fuels and hinder progress towards sustainable energy solutions.

                      15
                      • rosebellendiritu

                        44 w

                        @princess_nel_268 it clearly shows their unwillingness to have fast transition

                        5
                        • Princess

                          44 w

                          @rosebellendiritu that's true

                          4
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