A new expert analysis undertaken by Professor Ian Lowe reveals the shocking amount of greenhouse gas emissions that would be released if the fracking industry is allowed to develop gasfields in the Queensland Channel Country floodplains of the Lake Eyre Basin.
Professor Lowe’s report reveals that even under a “low development” scenario, fracking in the basin would make it nearly impossible for the Queensland Palaszczuk Government to meet its stated 2030 GHG emissions reduction targets.
Under a “high development” scenario, the fracking industry in the basin would be responsible for about 190 million tonnes per annum of fugitive and domestic emissions, and 300 million tonnes of emissions if the burning of the gas was taken into account. Australia’s annual domestic GHG emissions are roughly 500 million tonnes.
Professor Lowe’s report reveals the high emissions figures are because:
The petroleum resources in the Lake Eyre Basin contain extremely high levels of carbon dioxide (around 30%), which would have to be vented or otherwise disposed of, making them some of the most polluting gasfields in Australia.
Production of gas inevitably also results in direct methane leakage (known as fugitive emissions) and methane is a very potent greenhouse gas.
Professor Lowe said, “If we are serious about net zero emissions by 2050, then it is criminally irresponsible for governments to be approving new fossil fuel projects.
“Approving fracking in the Channel Country would ensure the Queensland Government fails to meet its stated emissions reduction target.”
The release of the report comes after the Palaszczuk Government was accused of conducting “sham consultation” with Traditional Owners and the wider community in the Channel Country, after it approved Origin Energy petroleum leases across more than 250,000 hectares near Windorah.
Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland spokesperson Ellie Smith urged the Palaszczuk Government to honour its past election promises and protect the floodplains of the Lake Eyre Basin from fracking.
She said Professor Lowe’s report showed sacrificing the floodplains to fracking would make the job of emissions reductions in every other sector of the state’s economy that much harder.
“This report confirms what we have long suspected - fracking this unique and spectacular part of Queensland will release a carbon bomb at a time when the world desperately needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” she said.
“If the Lake Eyre Basin is opened up to fracking the Queensland Palaszczuk Government will need to find its planned emissions reductions elsewhere.
“That means manufacturing businesses, agriculture, the transport sector, and Queensland households will all have to make up for the extra emissions of between 16 and 40 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent every year on top of existing reduction commitments just so companies like Origin can rip through another precious part of our state for profit.
“Sacrificing Queensland’s Lake Eyre Basin rivers and floodplains to fracking will harm the communities and the world class organic beef industry of Far Western Queensland.
“It will threaten the Channel Country’s free flowing desert rivers, which are among the last desert rivers not seriously compromised by human activity on the planet.
“It would be a travesty to allow thousands of fracking gas wells, roads and pipelines to destroy these floodplains in order to build the dirtiest, most polluting gasfields in Australia.”
In 2020, a leaked document revealed the Queensland Government's own scientists deemed fracking the sensitive Channel Country floodplains of the Lake Eyre Basin too risky.