- by Anna Pha
- The Guardian
- Issue #2042
One of the biggest con jobs foisted on the Australian public and the planet is Chevron’s $81 billion Gorgon “clean gas” project in WA. It is one of the largest liquid natural gas (LNG) projects in the world, churning out tonnes of greenhouse gases daily. Its licence was conditional on taking “all practical means” to bury at least 80 per cent of its carbon emissions. The first LNG cargo departed Barrow Island in March 2016 and since then questions have been raised as to just how much effort it has put into achieving that target.
Chevron reports burying 1.6 million tonnes of CO2 while releasing 3.4 million tonnes in the year 2021-22 – that is capturing and sequestering 32 per cent. This, after six years of operation, is far from its 80 per cent obligation and that is on its own figures. Chevron had teething problems. The Sydney Morning Herald (13-11-2022) reported that it found excess water in the system mixed with carbon dioxide forming an acid that threatened to corrode the equipment. The next issue was rising pressure in a layer of sandstone 2km below Barrow Island where the CO2 was to be stored. And then the water had to be removed to release the pressure… .
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) remains unproven on an industrial scale. It is expensive, will take years to be developed and the process consumes considerable energy. At best, 10 per cent of emissions will still escape. The time and resources that could be better spent on developing renewables. It is a carbon con job, used as a licence to pollute. Chevron has not met its conditions to operate the Gorgon project which is one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in Australia. Its licence should be cancelled, and the project closed. Its employees and those communities and businesses that rely on it for income should be assisted to transition to renewable energy and other projects that are appropriate for the region.
The Safeguard Mechanism (SM) requires Australia’s largest greenhouse gas emitters (100,000 tonnes or more pa) to keep their emissions below a set limit (baseline) which is set on a company-by-company basis. These companies are in large‑emitting industry sectors such as electricity generation, mining, oil and gas extraction, manufacturing, and waste. Companies can purchase carbon credits to offset emissions over their baseline or when they “under-emit” their baseline they can sell credits. In practice, companies have been able to increase emissions. A market-based scheme, it was introduced by the Abbott government and, as with other Coalition climate change measures, was not designed to interfere with fossil fuel emitters.
The Labor government is planning to introduce legislation to “toughen” the scheme while keeping its framework intact. Baselines will be gradually reduced (4.9 per cent pa) with the aim of reducing the emissions of these companies by 43 per cent by 2030. This is consistent with Labor’s overall 43 per cent target, is far below what science dictates. The scheme would remain market-based with companies able to continue emitting by buying carbon credits – many of which are dubious in themselves. Labor will need the support of the Greens if the legislation is to pass in the Senate. At present that seems unlikely. The Greens have expressed huge concerns with the scheme, such as the use of offsets and the low emissions reduction targets. Greens leader Adam Bandt said: “…we’re prepared to put those concerns aside and give Labor’s scheme a chance if Labor agrees to stop opening new coal and gas projects.” With more than 100 new gas and coal projects in the pipeline, the only thing the mechanism would appear to safeguard is fossil fuel projects and profits. (See Thejuicemedia Honest Government Ads for satirical Youtube)