Beware government bearing ‘New Technologies’ for emissions reduction

Scott Morrison gives the impression he’s slowly crab walking his party away from the climate change denialism and obstructionism they’ve indulged in over the last decade by talking up the reduction of emissions via “new technologies”.

But do we need new technologies for the world (and Australia) to stop and reverse climate change? Dr Karl thinks not:

One of those “new technologies” is carbon capture and storage (CCS) and it’s an environmental condition of the giant Gorgon gas and oil project on Western Australia’s northwest Barrow Island. Chevron, the project’s owner and operator, must use CCS to store 80% of the project’s emissions in an underground reservoir beneath the island. However it has been operating the project in breach of these conditions for more than three years. This injection system only became operational in August 2019, three years after the project began because Chevron, WA’s biggest polluter, had so many engineering problems with the system.  By the time the system was operational, Gorgon had already vented 6.3 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere (see WA Today). Of course you won’t read about this on Chevron’s website.

Normally if a resources project of this nature is in breach of its environmental conditions the state regulator takes them to court, but there’s been confusion about when the condition regarding the CO2 injection was supposed to take effect (The WA environment minister asked the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to review Chevron’s original application and advise; the EPA conceded that the original ministerial conditions did not clearly define the compliance start date, but eventually reported that the condition should have come into effect when Chevron started gas processing in 2016.  The EPA had originally made clear, at least, that the only way the project could be rendered environmentally acceptable was via the CO2 injection condition, and had recommended against approving the project at all.  

What this case demonstrates is that neither governments nor fossil fuel companies can be trusted to reduce emissions and take steps toward meeting either Australia’s laughable Paris Agreement targets or the ultimate goal of net zero emissions by 2050 through the deployment of “new technologies”.  Australia needs to utilise and ramp up the use of the proven, “old” technologies we already have available to us instead, and phase out the mining and burning of fossil fuels.  The only losers will be the likes of Chevron and the political parties they sponsor via donations.

Chevron argued that the compliance condition should not apply until the project was fully operating, and this would not occur until all gas processing trains were running (currently two out of four are running, with a third close to coming online).  The EPA disagreed, and said that according to Chevron’s argument the project might never be considered fully operational if the company kept planning future gas processing trains.

And by the way, Chevron, like so many fossil fuel companies, is reluctant to pay tax. Here’s the report from the Western Australian in May 2019.

Elana Mitchell, Democrats campaigner

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