No new fossil fuel projects in South Australia, say protesters

October 24, 2019
A protest for a ban on new fossil fuel projects, SA parliament, October 19
A protest calling for a ban on new fossil fuel projects, outside SA parliament on October 18. Photo: Fossil Free SA

Fossil Free SA and supporters called for a ban on new fossil fuel projects in South Australia, at a protest held outside Parliament House on October 18. 

The action was called in response to a recent decision by the state Liberal government to invite new applications for oil and gas licences.

Fossil Free SA spokesperson Margaret Hender said: “The upper house [of SA’s parliament] has declared a climate emergency, but any new gas or oil will mean more climate damage. That means more bushfires, worse droughts, and more severe heat waves as we head into summer”.

The SA Legislative Council passed a motion on September 25 affirming “that we are facing a climate emergency” and calling for the transformation of the economy to net zero emissions. 

Hender added: “We welcome the [Steve] Marshall government's focus on exporting renewable energy, but it is counter-productive to encourage more gas and oil projects at the same time.”

The government has ratified the previous state Labor government’s target of 75% renewable electricity by 2025.

But in May, it issued an invitation for new bids on petroleum exploration licences in the Cooper Basin and south-eastern SA. The deadline for applications is November 29.

At the action, an open letter addressed to the SA parliament was accepted by independent member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell, whose electorate covers one of the areas proposed for new oil and gas exploration.

The letter said: “We, the undersigned, ask you to revoke the May 2019 release of oil and gas exploration areas in the Cooper, Eromanga, and Otway Basins and to ban all further fossil fuel exploration and all new fossil fuel extraction projects (those not yet approved) in South Australia.”

More than 30 groups and prominent individuals have signed on, including School Strike 4 Climate, Limestone Coast Protection Alliance, Doctors for the Environment, Conservation SA and the Australian Education Union, as well as a number of local councils, businesses and academics.

School Striker Evan Meneses told the rally: “The huge turnout at the recent School Strike 4 Climate demonstrates the broad community support that exists for climate action at the local as well as the national level.

“This is the perfect opportunity for the state government to show real leadership and avoid unnecessary climate damage by stopping these projects before they get off the ground.”

Conservation SA chief executive Craig Wilkins added: "Real climate action is not just doing more clean energy.  

“We also urgently need to stop doing the things that are making climate change worse — that means stopping all new fossil fuel exploration in South Australia and retiring all current fossil fuel extraction as quickly as possible."

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