Beyond Zero Emissions released the statement below on September 4.
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Industry talk of developing an industry in “low emissions” coal-seam gas is a fantasy, according to renewable energy and climate think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE).
Yesterday, the Committee for Economic Development Australia (CEDA) released its Australia’s Unconventional Energy Options report, which advocates the development of unconventional gas supplies such as coal seam gas and shale gas.
The report found that “the social licence to operate is in serious jeopardy” according to CEDA chief executive, Stephen Martin.
BZE’s Executive Director Matthew Wright said: “Unconventional gas not only hasn’t got, but also doesn’t deserve a social licence. There is all this talk of lower emissions with gas, but we have yet to see a convincing evaluation of the emissions from leaking methane, a killer greenhouse gas, in unconventional gas fields.”
Industry claims total lifecycle “fugitive emissions” of methane at 0.1%. However, real life measurements by the US Department of Energy have shown emissions from individual shale gas wells to be as high as 15% and field-wide emissions to atmosphere to be as high as 7%.
That rate of leakage would mean the climate pollution from the gas was worse than coal, however cleanly it burns at its destination.
“BZE have demonstrated that 100% renewable energy works. It’s available now. It creates jobs, and it has no fuel costs,” Wright said.
“On the other hand, the gas industry is moving into ever dirtier sources of gas, and the price keeps on going up.
“Gas fugitive emissions are unknown at best, and possibly worse than coal. It’s time to invest in renewables. If we measure all the costs, both money and environmental damage as well, renewables win hands down.”
“Right now, the Arctic sea ice is smashing all the records for its summer melt. There is no balance on carbon emissions: it’s already tipped too far and we are seeing dangerous climate change beginning right now.
“We can’t afford to lock in another generation of carbon-emitting fossil fuels, even if gas is found to be half as damaging as coal. Whether the cup is half full or half empty, the contents are still climate poison.”