Gas should be included in carbon price

I heard this morning on ABC NewsRadio that the natural gas giants in Australia are pushing back on Federal Government plans to include gas in the carbon price.

Image courtesy of TruEnergy.

The negotiations over the carbon price are following the same, predictable line that the negotiations over the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme followed: the carbon lobby and various other industries that contribute significant amounts of carbon pollution to our air are asking for exemptions and compensation.

Don Voelte, the CEO of the largest Australian-owned oil and gas producer Woodside, says LNG can help deliver a “better world” and should be excluded from the carbon tax.

“Everywhere else in the world understands gas,” he said.

“People in the United States see gas as the saviour – cheap, clean, transitional fuel to a better world.

“Gas is good and Australia is penalising it. We don’t get it.”

Before trotting out the line that Australia is “going it alone” (a bald-faced lie which the ABC did not correct), Don Voelte claimed that if the carbon price was to go ahead, it would be “game off” for gas.

In fact, gas (far better than coal) is a fossil fuel, is non-renewable and is a source of significant greenhouse gas emissions – predominantly from the burning of gas, and from “fugitive emissions”. Fugitive emissions are green house gases that are released through as a by-product of extracting the resource (whether coal, gas, uranium, or whatever). Typically, large amounts of methane and carbon is released as fugitive emissions from the extraction of gas. As the gas industry has expanded in recent years, the raw amount of fugitive emissions has grown significantly in Australia.

The point of the carbon price – as explained simply by Julia Gillard – is to make polluting more expensive. If gas is much less polluting than coal – the “cheap, clean” fuel that is “good” that Don Voelte claims – then it will have a clear advantage over coal under a carbon price. If it pollutes – which it does – then it should pay for the pollution. It will obviously pay less than coal.


Some good commentary at the Business Spectator about the role of the media and big (polluting) business in the anti-carbon lobby.

Australia is experiencing a crescendo of nonsense in relation to our contribution to halting anthropogenic climate change. The danger is that by shouting loudest, longest, the proponents of some highly inconsistent arguments are gaining the upper hand.

The government’s round-table meeting on Friday with the heads of some of Australia’s largest companies – BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, BlueScope Steel, Woodside, Woolworths and NAB – was, by all accounts, a kind of shouting match over the levels of compensation our biggest carbon emitting corporates will receive under the government’s proposed carbon tax.

But no, it’s not those company representatives being inconsistent or nonsensical – they are doing their job, putting their shareholders first and attempting to protect the profitability of their businesses.

One response to “Gas should be included in carbon price”

  1. Dean Avatar

    Absolute madness. Gas has a clear advantage over coal but ain’t as good as renewable. A carbon price should obviously reflect this. Duh.

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