Students protest govt gas plans on global day of action

PHYSICAL and virtual rallies are being held across the country today, as students protest the federal government’s investment in gas infrastructure, urging it to commit to strong emissions reduction targets.
Students protest govt gas plans on global day of action Students protest govt gas plans on global day of action Students protest govt gas plans on global day of action Students protest govt gas plans on global day of action Students protest govt gas plans on global day of action

Mark Tilly

Senior Journalist

Mark Tilly

The rallies, organised by School Strike 4 Climate, are being held in smaller physical numbers in line with COVID-19 social distancing requirements, with protests planned in capital cities, as well as industrial regions including Wollongong and Newcastle.

"Right now, the government is deciding how to spend billions in public money to help with the COVID-19 crisis," School Strike's website reads.

"It's a critical opportunity for them to fund our future, by creating jobs that will Care for Country, fast-track solutions to climate change, and transition Australia to renewable energy." 

The protests are joined by some 3000 other global events held today.

To ensure greater participation as the pandemic forces protestors to shift tactics, organisers have told participants to flood prime minister Scott Morrison's parliamentary office with phone calls, and tag his Twitter and Facebook pages with photos of the protests. 

The group is demanding no public funds be spent on coal, gas and oil, saying the economic recovery should be spent on reaching a 100% renewable energy target by 2030 through expanded public ownership.

They also want to guarantee land rights for aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders to lead solutions that care for country, and fast track jobs that help reduce emissions. 

On Tuesday, student protestors picketed the front of the Perth Convention Centre where Woodside CEO Peter Coleman was speaking about the future of energy, declaring that gas was going to be around "for a long time, even until the end of the century." 

Woodside has invested in green hydrogen developments and has a 2050 net-zero emissions target, however campaigner Anthony Collins told Energy News they have yet to prove they are taking this target seriously.

He pointed to ministerial conditions on Woodside's Pluto LNG facility which order the company to offset 240,000 tonnes of its emissions per year and said, according to Woodside's estimates, they had only offset around 77,000tpa since 2008.

"Their inability to reach the most miniscule of government offset conditions shows Woodside's true commitments to emissions reduction," he said. 

"CO2 levels are already the highest in human history and Woodside are adding to this risk." 

Woodside Petroleum rejected his claims, saying it was "fully compliant" with its regulatory obligations. 

"A gap between forecast offsets and actual offsets was identified for the years to 2020 due in part to increased production at the Pluto LNG facility. We took the decision to voluntarily purchase and retire additional carbon offsets to close this gap immediately," a Woodside spokesperson told Energy News

"This is ahead of our regulatory requirements which are over the life of the project, and in addition to the almost A$100 million we have invested over the past decade to develop our own carbon offset projects across Australia."

Analysis released overnight by Wood Mackenzie said COVID-19 had slowed climate change mitigation efforts this year, noting that keeping global temperatures below 2C remains a "Herculean" task. 

"No efforts have been made to decarbonise the existing infrastructure. Emissions will continue increasing unless there is an incentive to rationalise the carbon-heavy assets or retrofit it with carbon capture storage - a Herculean task without an appropriate tax on carbon," Woodmac head of markets and transition Prakash Sharma said. 


Most read MARKETS