SBS News: ‘A more dangerous future': Experts condemn Australia's new gas strategy

May 10, 2024 2:59 PM

The Labor government says it can better achieve net zero by expanding the gas sector. A chorus of critics reject their claims.

The Australian government has been criticised as "climate frauds" following its controversial decision to keep expanding and investing in the extractive gas industry for decades to come.

In defiance of global calls to phase out fossil fuels, Resources Minister Madeleine King announced on Thursday that Australia would ramp up gas projects as part of its Future Gas Strategy, saying it was needed to meet surging demand.

While King indicated that the strategy would also support the Labor government’s commitment to transition to net zero emissions by 2050, she revealed gas extraction will likely continue beyond that date.

"Gas will remain an important source of energy through to 2050 and beyond," she said, highlighting the need for continued exploration, investment and development in the sector.

'Fast-tracking climate collapse'

The announcement has drawn the ire of climate experts, advocates and some politicians, many of whom condemned the Future Gas Strategy as failing to adequately address and respond to the climate crisis.

Jennifer Rayner, head of policy and advocacy at the Climate Council, said the government’s decision to double down on gas "ignores climate scientists, who warn we are at risk of smashing through 1.5C of warming".

"More gas means more climate pollution and a more dangerous future, it's that simple," Rayner said.

"The Albanese government has a choice: cut climate pollution and seize the decade by scaling up clean energy, or support new gas projects. It can't do both."
The announcement of Australia’s Future Gas Strategy came just one day after the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service released data showing that the global average temperature for the last 12 months — May 2023 to April 2024 — had once again reached new heights, putting 2024 on track to surpass 2023 as the hottest year on record.

Greens leader Adam Bandt said the Albanese government was "fast-tracking climate collapse" and "threatening people’s lives and livelihoods".

"Labor are climate frauds, backing coal and gas past 2050 while scientists ring alarm bells and the planet boils," Bandt said.

Greens environment spokesperson Sarah Hanson-Young expressed similar outrage.

"On the same day the world’s scientists are sounding the alarm that we’re heading off a climate cliff, Labor has slammed its foot on the gas in a naked attempt to pander to big gas," she said.

"Labor have thrown any climate credibility out the window."

A controversial strategy

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has previously warned there can be no new oil and gas infrastructure if the planet is to avoid surpassing 1.5 degrees Celsius of global heating, stressing the importance of "huge declines" in the use of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas to reach global climate targets.

"Achieving net zero emissions by 2050 will require nothing short of the complete transformation of the global energy system," the IEA said.