30 scientists say no to fracking in the NT

24107 fracking report 4 OKLETTER TO THE EDITOR

 

Sir – Thirty of Australia’s most respected scientists and energy experts have signed an open letter, published by the Australia Institute today, calling on the Northern Territory and Federal Governments not to allow fracking in the Territory to proceed under any circumstances.

 

The Fracking Inquiry found that a single gas field would increase Australia’s emissions by 5%. The scientists note that this “completely incompatible with Australia’s carbon budget and our commitments under the Paris agreement”.

 

The scientists, including several of Australia’s most respected climate scientists, note that the Northern Territory is in a region likely to experience the most severe impacts of global warming. This includes a dramatic increase in extremely hot days, with days over 35 degrees Celsius in Darwin projected to increase from 11 per year now to up to 308 by 2070.

 

The Fracking Inquiry also found a scenario submitted by the NT Government would have emissions equivalent to 18% of Australia’s emissions every year.

 

Australia Institute analysis found that if all NT shale gas was exploited, it could be the equivalent of up to 60 times Australia’s current annual emissions or building 130 coal power plants and operating them for 40 years.

 

“This gas development is incompatible with Australia’s obligations as a signatory to the Paris climate agreement. It should not go ahead under any circumstances,” says ANU climate scientist and signatory to the open letter, Will Steffen.

 

“Climate change already poses serious risks for the Northern Territory, and these will escalate unless greenhouse gas emissions are rapidly reduced. Extremely hot days – those over 35°C – are expected to increase dramatically.

 

“Combined with high humidity, such extreme heat will make just being outside not only uncomfortable, but dangerous to health, for a large proportion of the year in many areas, including Darwin.

 

“Most fossil fuel reserves simply cannot be burned if we want places like the Northern Territory to remain habitable. Opening up vast new fossil fuel developments is dangerous, irresponsible and unnecessary.

 

“It would be a tragic irony to have massive amounts of gas from the NT fueling heatwaves destroying everything we love about the NT to the point of making it virtually uninhabitable,” says Mark Ogge, principal advisor at The Australia Institute.

 

“A single shale gas field would triple the Northern Territories emissions. Territorians working hard to reduce their emissions would wonder why they are bothering.

 

“If each new shale gas field increases Australia’s emissions by 5%, other industries like farming and tourism will have to reduce more so we can still meet our Paris commitments.”

 

Tom Burmester

The Australia Institute, Canberra, public policy think tank established in 1994.

 

 

UPDATE 5:40pm

 

Matthew Doman, of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, provided the following reply:-

 

Developing gas fields in the Territory could play a significant role in reducing our carbon footprint.

 

Natural gas has a critical role in enabling the greater integration of renewables into our energy mix.

 

With the majority of Australia’s electricity coming from coal, greater use of gas-fired power can contribute to a reduction in near-term emissions.

 

Every analysis by credible experts shows that natural gas is essential to delivering reliable, cleaner energy over the next 20 years.

 

Experience in countries such as the US shows that the most significant opportunity available today to curb emissions is replacing coal-fired power with gas-fired generation.  It is a shift which can cut emissions by 50% or more, without jeopardising energy security.

 

The reality is we cannot move to total reliance on renewable any time soon, and there’s an ongoing need for gas.

 

It is also important to remember that only around 40% of the gas used in Australia goes to power generation. The rest is used for cooking, heating and to sustain our manufacturing industries.

 

We need practical solutions, not ideological solutions.

 

The use of renewable energy is increasing, but the reality is we will use very substantial amounts of gas for decades to come, and so it is reckless to turn our back on new supplies – especially when the Territory could gain significant economic and social benefits developing its resources.

 

It is also notable that the open letter is wrong in claiming the NT Government submitted a scenario of shale gas production in the NT resulting in lifecycle emissions equal to 18% of Australia’s current greenhouse gas emissions.

 

As per Table 9.4 of the Inquiry Draft Final Report, the panel has calculated that this scenario (3,400 TJ/d) would be 6.6% proportion of Australia’s emissions for 2015.

 

 

 

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6 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Posted March 3, 2018 at 10:25 am

    @ Jimmy Cocking: “Our farming and tourist industries are more important than the gas fracking industry. We have abundant sun and we should focus on solar.”
    No one is arguing that the power supply issues and circumstances in NT and Victoria on the south east coast are the same. Solar is an obvious viable alternative in the NT.
    Far denser population in eastern states and different latitudes make gas and coal supply much more vital to those states.
    Moratoriums and endangered species are the automatic and simplistic catchcry of the Greens.
    Hazelwood and the leadbeater possum are an example in Victoria. You may be right in Alice.
    However, try selling your NT position to desperately poor households here South of the Border. I do not say it lightly when I say that the cashed-up inner city soy latte sippers are driving the Green push here ignoring the suburban Struggletowners and cash-strapped farming and dairy communities etc in the bush.
    As a former Alician who loves the people of the Centre, I trust you can see the difference.

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  2. Jimmy Cocking
    Posted March 2, 2018 at 10:41 pm

    @ Andrew: He is associated with the Norwood Resource, a pro-gas industry “education” charity. The people who oppose fracking have nothing to gain except clean air, water and a safe climate. Gas lobbyists have become the loudest voices in closing off coal as they hope to portray gas as a cleaner fuel.
    It may be, if it didn’t leak and escape into the atmosphere. Reality is that we have to stop all fossil fuel pollution by mid century or we risk permanent damage to the climate system.
    East coast supply issues are about gas companies selling our gas cheaper to Asia than they do to us.
    The supply issue is the result of gas export contracts and the same people who manufactured that is also trying to make the solution from coal to gas in the Pedirka basin. Potentially killing national heritage listed Dalhousie hot springs
    Fracking is dangerous and polluting. It has made many oil and gas barons rich in the states but risked water, communities and seismic safety.
    Our farming and tourist industries are more important than the gas fracking industry. We have abundant sun and we should focus on solar.
    It is well known that we can’t exploit our known reserves of fossil fuels without blowing the global carbon budget, let alone finding and developing new ones.
    Let’s hope the NT Government makes a sensible decision to extend the moratorium indefinitely.

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  3. John Bell
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 11:10 am

    I envy Alicians who at least have had an opportunity to participate in an inquiry about land gas supplies that are going to be developed, fracking or no fracking.
    Today’s news down here in Mexico South of the Border, from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says: “The east coast gas market is at the crossroads to address fundamental supply issues.”
    It gets better: “Gippsland basin decline was not being offset by new onshore development with temporary bans (Read Andrews’s Green permanent moratorium) and other regulatory restrictions in Victoria, as well as NSW and Tasmania, preventing exploration and development.”
    It gets better still: “High gas prices are a threat to Australian industry’s competitiveness and would be very stark for low income households relying on gas to heat their homes. Victorian gas users will be force to rely on natural gas from Queensland.”
    Ah, the promised Utopia of the Inner City soy latte sipping Green! Coming soon to a Town Like Alice.

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  4. Michael Dean
    Posted February 28, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    Experts warning of dire consequences and increased emissions if we frack, and other experts saying by fracking we will reduce emissions and be better off.
    I understand each side has their own barrow to push in all this, but how does the average person in the street understand which side is correct when we see “experts” disagreeing with each other and counterclaiming?

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  5. Evelyne Roullet
    Posted February 28, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    “Fracking provided that wells are properly engineered under proper regulations.”
    I like the “provided” which implies problems if engineering is not perfect and well installed (depending on the workforce) and “proper regulations” which we all know if not applied, will be discovered when accidents strike! By then it will be too late.

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  6. Andrew Andrejewskis
    Posted February 27, 2018 at 8:05 pm

    These scientists may be pre-eminent in their respective fields, but have no credibility nor qualifications to comment on oil and gas and fracking.
    More than one million wells fracked overseas and more than 700 wells fracked in Australia with no detrimental environmental effect.
    Besides, a number of enquiries in Australia and overseas have supported fracking provided that wells are properly engineered under proper regulations.

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