The Federal Government continues to promote a 'gas led recovery' from the COVID recession. This is a disastrous policy, which ignores climate science and the views of most Australians. According to the 2020 Climate of the Nation survey, only 12% of Australians prefer a recovery powered by gas, with 59% preferring investment in renewables.
Two groups of Kooyong residents took part in the National Day of Action against Gas on 28 November, one gathering at the electorate office of the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, and the other at the Glenferrie Road shopping centre. The message was clear: no public funding for gas, and more government support for renewables and a sustainable future.
The government's arguments for the gas-led recovery are deeply misleading:
- Gas is not a 'transitional fuel' that will help reduce emissions. It is now the fastest growing source of atmospheric carbon dioxide globally, and methane leakage from the gas industry is now known to be far higher than previously assumed. To reduce emissions, we don't just need to phase out coal, we need to phase out gas as well, and do it quickly.
- Renewables are now a cheaper source of power than gas. More gas will not reduce electricity prices.
- The energy market operator has clearly stated that we don't need gas to for when the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow. Batteries, pumped hydro and demand management can cost effectively handle the variability of renewable power.
- There are only about 10,000 jobs in gas intensive industries, and investment in gas is a very poor way to support employment. The future is in green jobs, and the government should be investing to accelerate the transition to renewables and sustainable jobs. It should also provide generous support to the workers and regions adversely affected by the transition.
The government needs to abandon its misguided gas recovery plan and rule out any public funding for the gas industry. Instead of propping up fossil fuel industries it must commit to a sustainable future. That means a dramatic step up in climate ambition and support for renewables and clean jobs.