The Guardian • Issue #2052


  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2052

Anna Pha

If you think the transition to renewables and following what the climate science dictates means phasing out fossil fuels, that’s not what the fossil fuel corporations have in mind. “The longer-term answer is development of new supply to keep energy affordable and reliable as we transition to a lower carbon future,” Meg O’Neill CEO of Woodside Energy, a global top-10 independent oil and gas company claims. “More supply will keep prices down for customers, more supply or keep that gas reliable for businesses that count on it, and more supply will be part of Australia’s decarbonisation pathway.” More expensive gas is cheaper than cheaper renewables! Gas is the decarbonisation pathway! Woodside signed off on the construction of the $16.5 billion Scarborough LNG project in Western Australia in November last year.

Chevron plans to extract gas from its highly lucrative Gorgon project on Barrow Island, off the coast of Western Australia, beyond 2056! These plans were revealed in a subpoena of internal documents by the US House oversight and reform committee, prior to the Republicans taking control of Congress. The committee included Gorgon as an example of how the industry is “doubling down on long-term fossil fuel investments” while publicly claiming that gas is “merely a ‘bridge fuel’ ” to cleaner energy in spite of scientists’ “significant concerns about continued reliance on natural gas in a warming climate.” The company is now “poised to continue fossil fuel extraction at the sensitive Class A Nature Reserve on an even larger scale.”

Chevron’s return on capital in 2022 was a whopping 20 per cent plus. No wonder it plans to keep expanding gas and oil operations well into the future. Its annual report notes Stuart Kirk, former global head of responsible investing, HSBC Asset Management is quoted in Chevron’s 2022 annual report: “Climate change is not a financial risk that we need to worry about.” They are short-sighted fools who care only for immediate super profits while humanity drowns.

Chevron is not only Australia’s largest contributor to increased greenhouse gas emissions, but it is reaping massive profits. Its profits tripled in 2022 to more than $12 billion. Australians gain little economic benefit from its operations. It has paid little or no tax on its super profits for years as it siphons off billions offshore to its related companies through such means as hefty interest rates on loans from them. The government stands by and watches. Chevron paid $74,650 in political donations to the major parties last year. Woodside is a “corporate member” of the two major parties paying fees of $110,000 to each party. Corporate membership brings policy briefing sessions, meetings with ministers (or shadow ministers) and dinner or drinks with the Prime Minister (or leader of the opposition).

To conclude with the words of another gas company: “We will be producing and burning gas long after I am six feet under, and long after my children are six feet under – they are quite young. This is a long-term business,” says Martin Houston, vice-chairperson of Tellurian, reassuring investors in the US liquid natural gas corporation.

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