Gas is a major source of GHG pollution Australia’s extraction and processing of methane gas, by itself, will blow our meagre Paris commitments
Gas is a major and rising source of global greenhouse emissions, primarily from burning it for energy (mostly electricity production and also in industrial process and space heating and to a minor extent cooking) and also from methane emitted during extraction, processing and distribution (fugitive and vented emissions).
In 2021 Australian Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) exports were 80.9 million tonnes. When burnt at its destinations about 240 million tonnes of CO2 (p8) were produced – that is equivalent to almost half of Australia’s total 2021 1emissions, 501.5 million tonnes of CO2. Even within Australia, the gas industry is responsible for around 10% of Australia’s emissions (on official numbers), even before gas is consumed in homes and factories. The single largest consumer of gas in Australia is the gas industry itself, which burns it to run the export facilities.
Gas industry is about profits not people Gas was a transition fuel about a decade ago - that horse has bolted. A ‘gas fired recovery’ is about propping up profits for an industry that profits Australia very little at the risk of pollution, health and climate change.
Few Jobs The methane or "natural gas" industry gas industry is in fact among the least job intensive industries that exist. "The gas industry is a relatively small employer”. Of the 13 and half million Australians in employment, a mere 23,000 workers are employed in the oil and gas industry nationally. That comprises a tiny 0.2% of the Australian workforce. And though our LNG production is rapidly increasing, the rate of workers employed in the gas industry has fallen 25% since 2014 (Statista.com). LNG production is increasingly automated and employs FIFO workers, many from offshore.
More methane gas is unlikely to fire a manufacturing boom. Only 1 percent of local gas is used in Australia as feedstock in the manufacturing industry, and those industries will be looking to renewable energy and green hydrogen as the path to the future, not expensive LNG. Nor will expanding gas supplies lower gas prices for industrial or domestic consumers. Gas production has tripled over the past decade, but so have gas prices. This is because we can now pay export prices for our own gas.
‘Supporting virtually any other industry (than gas) would be a more effective way to create jobs’ for our nation’s economic recovery from Covid according to Rod Campbell from the Australia Institute.
Gas is a public health risk. Cooking with gas is estimated to be responsible for up to 12 percent of the burden of childhood asthma in Australia. A child living with gas cooking in the home faces a risk of asthma comparable to that of a child living with household cigarette smoke.
Methane is the primary contributor to the formation of ground-level ozone, a poisonous hazardous air pollutant and greenhouse gas, exposure to which causes 1 million premature deaths every year. Children, the elderly, and people with lung or cardiovascular diseases are particularly at risk of the adverse health impacts of ozone.
While a problem in areas of extraction, leaking methane is also a health problems from leaks in distribution pipes and and household appliances and meters. Few Australian studies exist, however U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) estimates higher rates from local gas distribution pipelines (nearly 5 times as much); leaks from customers’ gas meters (up to 6 times higher); and from behind the meter leakage (from pipes and appliances like tankless gas water heaters within buildings), 2020 measurements of leakage within cities.
This problem is in your urban neighbourhood, before considering the health risks of extraction methods like fracking.