On November 27, some of the worst climate criminals from around the country will be gathering in Perth for the Resources Technology Showcase. Corporations including Woodside, Shell, Chevron, BP and more, will join State Government to promote the expansion of the liquefied natural gas sector.
LNG is one of the key drivers of greenhouse gas emissions growth in Australia. Of the country’s seven LNG plants, five are found off the North West coast of WA. These projects are so emissions intensive that all five earn a spot in WAs top 10 emitters. Three of these, Woodside’s North West Shelf project as well as Chevron’s Gorgon and Wheatstone projects, beat out the state’s dirtiest coal fired power plant, the Muja power station, to take out the top three spots.
(From the Conservation Council WA and Clean State report “Runaway train: The impact of WA’s LNG industry on meeting our Paris targets and national efforts to tackle climate change” page 15)
As the LNG sector continues to grow, both the industry and Federal Government have been quick to mythologise the fuel. Earlier this month, a press release by the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association argued that LNG was capable of providing a “cleaner energy future”.
Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor has echoed similar sentiments. In an interview with ABCs Radio National earlier this year he stated that there were “148m tonnes of lower emissions as a result of [Australian LNG] exports”.
However, a recent report by the Conservation Council of WA and Clean State contends that these claims are misleading. Responding to industry claims that burning LNG results in 50 per cent fewer emissions than coal, the report stated “[this] doesn’t take into account the emissions across the full life cycle of gas, including extraction, processing, transport, and storage”.
The report also highlights that rather than displacing coal as an energy source (which is the justification behind the Energy Minister’s earlier comments), LNG is growing rapidly as an export, alongside coal exports. This means that Australia holds the dual titles of world’s largest coal and LNG exporter.
Source: The Guardian
Curtin in bed with the fossil fuel companies
The mining industry are not alone in supporting RTS, with Curtin University being a supporting partner of this year’s conference. But you don’t have to look far on campus to find evidence of Curtin’s links to the mining industry, as evidenced by the massive Alcoa Court next to the Chancellery. Over on the university website you can find numerous mining, oil and gas companies listed as industry partners.
It is outrageous that a public institution like Curtin is so deeply tied to an industry committed to wrecking the planet. An example of this can be found in the courses on offer at Curtin. A quick search of the 2020 handbook returns only one result for renewable energy, the Renewable Energy Systems Stream for engineering. In contrast oil and gas return an engineering bachelor, three possible masters’ degrees and a doctoral program.
The university is quite open about tailoring its degrees to the needs of industry. While this is nothing surprising, many degrees are tailored to real world applications after all, it is concerning that some of the country’s largest polluters have such a deep connection to “general teaching, taught unit content, courses and research areas”.
As the effects of the climate crisis become clearer, Curtin should be distancing itself from companies like Woodside, Shell, Saudi Aramco, Petrobras, Chevron and BP – not inviting them to suggest course content and research.
No Faith in State Labor
It would be remiss to write an article on the LNG industry and this conference without mentioning the role played by Labor over the last several years to secure the industry.
Earlier this year Premier Mark McGowan stepped in to shield the industry from proposals made by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The proposals, which included offsetting 100 per cent of emissions on large polluting projects, proved to be too controversial for the mining industry. The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association warned that such a policy would put billions worth of investment at risk. Not only did McGowan distance his government from the policy, he strongarmed the agency into publicly withdrawing the proposal.
It wasn’t long before this support for the industry was on full display once again. This year’s WA Labor conference saw the party adopt the appalling emissions reduction target, first proposed by the Abbott Liberal government (and maintained by the current Morrison Liberal government), of 26 to 28 per cent by 2030.
Events in the past few months show that we cannot wait for Labor to come to power, be it at a state or federal level, in the hopes it will fight climate change. From WA to QLD the party has shown that it is willing to defend the mining industry to the hilt and subject the planet to runaway climate change.
From 8am this Wednesday, Curtin students, alongside Blockade RTS for Climate Justice, Extinction Rebellion, Arts and Cultural Workers for Climate Justice, and more, will be gathering outside the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre to protest the conference. A march to the convention centre will also be taking place starting at 9am from Forrest Place.
We will be targeting the opening address to by Premier Mark McGowan as well as the opening panel, titled “Securing the LNG legacy: lessons learnt and what is needed for WA to remain competitive on the world stage”.
Blockade RTS is a coalition of activist groups from around Perth including Extinction Rebellion, Arts and Cultural Workers for Climate Justice, Socialist Alliance, Socialist Alternative and more. The blockade has also been endorsed by several groups including the Maritime Union of Australia (WA Branch) and the Curtin Student Guild.