GISERA report bizarrely uses thermal coal as a benchmark for greenhouse gas emission goals, finds renewables are still better

Published: July 29, 2019

A new report claiming Australian LNG produces less greenhouse gas emissions if used domestically than coal also admits renewable energy is likely a less polluting option for power generation.

Despite comparing the gas industry favourably to emissions intensive thermal coal, the Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance (GISERA) report, released today, still finds export gas is a significant greenhouse polluter.

Crucially, the report states, “Where natural gas displaces renewable forms of electricity generation rather than coal… potential climate benefits are reduced and possibly reversed.”

The report also appears to omit some major aspects of the industry’s contribution to carbon pollution, and Lock the Gate spokesperson Naomi Hogan called several of its findings into question.

“It’s interesting that even this gas-industry funded report has shown that renewables are likely to be a far better option for electricity generation, and that exporting our gas is a polluting process,” she said.

“The report also admits pollution associated with CSG exploration is not incorporated into the study. That means all the exploration-linked venting and flaring of gas wells were not considered.

“The report projects that four times as much gas from Queensland CSG fields will be exported as LNG compared to what will be available domestically, and that gas exports are significantly more polluting than gas used domestically. 

“The report states that gas is only cleaner if it’s displacing coal, and then outlines that much of the gas to be exported would be going into new gas powered generation. So the gas industry’s own research partnership is giving itself a black mark on carbon pollution performance. 

“If we’re talking about new power stations, then the gas industry has to stack up against renewables, and it clearly can’t do that.”  

Ms Hogan said the report in part relied on greenhouse gas emissions data from older research (Day 2014) which stated they failed to include the huge emissions they found at the water gathering lines for CSG.

“Today’s report used a single project to draw its conclusions and didn’t include exploration. It is difficult to see how this could be considered as a true reflection of the impact of the gas industry on greenhouse gas emissions,” she said.

Ms Hogan also said because the five main Queensland gas companies provided more than half of GISERA’s funding, it was difficult to take the organisation’s latest report seriously.

“GISERA’s own gas-spruiking report admits that renewable energy is probably less polluting than gas. It is a shame our scientists are being used to talk up the gas industry thanks to payments of millions of dollars to CSIRO from the gas exporters,” she said. 

“These CSG exporting companies are responsible for hiking up gas prices in Australia, devastating agricultural regions, draining precious water resources and increasing our national emissions. 

“Parts of Australia are in deep drought, plus we are the sunniest nation in the world. These simple facts should stop CSIRO from taking money from water guzzling coal seam gas companies. CSIRO should instead focus on cutting edge solar and renewables research.

“Fundamentally, Australia’s emissions data clearly show that gas is driving Australia’s increasing emissions levels. There is no need for us to choose what may be the lesser of two evils when renewable energy is cheaper and cleaner than both coal and gas.”

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Content on this site is authorised by Georgina Woods for Lock the Gate Alliance, Lismore NSW.