The Guardian • Issue #2094


  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2094

Woodside’s Browse gas (425 km north of Broome) project and North West Shelf extension proposals depend on the approval of the Minister for the Environment, Tanya Plibersek. Both proposals are climate and nature disasters that threaten First Australians’ cultural heritage and are major components of Woodside’s massive Burrup Hub gas expansion plans for WA. The emissions of these projects threaten the wellbeing of anyone reading this column.

Woodside’s Browse gas project involves drilling 54 gas wells in and around the biodiverse Scott Reef in waters that whales, turtles, and dolphins call home, and building a 900-km-long underwater pipeline to send the extracted gas onshore to its North West Shelf gas plant. Woodside’s own environmental assessment warns that any gas and condensate spill would directly risk 39 threatened animals including Pygmy blue whales and Humpback whales.

Woodside proposes extending the life of its North West Shelf gas plant to 2070 to process gas from Browse as well as yet-to-be-identified gas fields. This could open the door to fracking the Kimberley and lock Australia into climate-wrecking gas for decades. Traditional Owners are concerned that the plant’s emissions are risking the survival of ancient Murujuga rock art.

Both proposals are major components of Woodside’s massive Burrup Hub gas expansion plans for WA. The Burrup Hub is the most polluting new coal, gas or oil proposal in the Southern Hemisphere. Expected lifetime emissions would be more than 13 times Australia’s annual emissions.

Burrup would create climate destruction that threatens nature in WA and beyond: Scott Reef and marine life in WA, Ningaloo Reef, the Great Barrier Reef, and the old-growth forests that support threatened species like Greater gliders, Swift parrots and Quolls. There is also a strong Traditional Owner opposition to Woodside’s Burrup Hub, as its many gas wells, plants and pipelines would tread over songlines and risk destroying ancient rock art on land and underwater. (See “Save our songlines”, Guardian #2091, 18/03/2024)

The International Energy Agency has made it very clear on more than one occasion that no new oil and gas projects should be commenced if the energy sector is to reach net zero emissions by 2050. That includes Australia.

After years of ignoring communities, the science and even their own investors, Woodside’s time is up and its board must be held to account. Our superannuation funds are some of the biggest investors in fossil fuel companies like Woodside, so their votes really count. In March, HESTA became one of the first major super funds to take a stand against Woodside directors on climate grounds. They are showing the way for other funds.

What you can do:

  • Tell your super fund about HESTA’s championing of a safe climate future and ask them to use their investor power to put real pressure on climate-wreckers like Woodside.
  • Tell your super fund that HESTA is proposing alternative directors to Woodside Energy who have better climate credentials.
  • Ask your fund to announce that they also intend to vote against climate wreckers at the upcoming annual general meetings of big polluters like Woodside.
  • If you are a member of HESTA, you can instead send them a message of support.

Together, our voices can push the Environment Minister into action. Let’s urge Plebersek to reject Woodside’s Browse gas and North West Shelf gas extension proposals!

Thanks to the Australian Conservation Foundation for this information

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