Parliament Updates

Zali Steggall MP urges the government to take climate action in response gas project approvals

26 June 2024

Thank you, Deputy Speaker. I support this motion because it is incredibly concerning, the announcement of this approval that occurred by the Minister for the Environment yesterday, and it is important that we debate this question. I would like to do a reality check for this parliament. 1.5 degrees is not a goal, it is not a target, in the words of the UN, it is a threshold beyond which great risk and consequences will occur. There was a reason why in 2015 at the Paris Agreement, 1.5 was listed and agreed to being an important threshold, that we should not go past. We are already fast approaching that threshold, we are already at it at times.

What we know is gas is not the solution. We cannot afford more gas. Methane is a major aspect of global warming and Australia has been called out for underreporting is annual greenhouse gas pollution by as much as 28 million tonnes by failing to record more than 80% of emissions that leak during coal and gas production. Exacerbating the challenge of achieving government targets and setting up, and absolutely making it impossible to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees. These decisions made to extend new gas projects, are done on the basis that there is going to be somehow, it's Scope three emissions. It is not something we are going to have to deal with, but the reality is we are all going to deal with it, because it is all going to impact our warming.

Australia is knowingly underreporting its methane. It is failing to take action and misleading the international community and undermining our Paris Agreement, and the government knows this. I have written to the Minister for climate change and the Climate Change Authority. With every gas project you approve, you make that problem worse. We know we are underreporting and not measuring and there is a recommendation before the Minister for climate change to make sure, under the NGER Act review, we have proper monitoring and measuring of methane emissions, in particular fugitive emissions. But still, we have seen no action and so we can't keep approving these projects, and not address the emissions, what they are actually doing, and their footprint.

For those that don't know and this should not be repeating, methane emissions contribute approximately 25% of emissions in Australia and methane captures 80% more heat than CO2 in the first 20 years, so every gas project that is approved is fast tracking climate change. We are fast tracking global warming. That means you're putting your children at risk, putting your communities at risk. It just is incredible that we are still in 2024 at a time with an opposition that is doing everything it can to counter climate action policy, to put forward every kind of denial opportunity, to delay anything feasible, to delay with ridiculous proposals and in the meantime, we have the government that is still approving coal and gas, that is approving projects well beyond where they're going to be needed.

We do not have a gas shortage in Australia. Let's be really clear for the Australian people. We have lots of gas, but we are allowing companies to export it for great profit rather than prioritise domestic markets. We do not need more gas approvals. What we need need is rules that ensure gas in Australia, stays for Australia and that we fast track transition off gas for households with electrification. These are simple measures. We can do it but you need political will and first and foremost, you need to come and be accountable for the decisions you make. So, approving gas projects for Gina Rinehart, and I always hear the coalition talking about the renewables billionaires, where are our fossil fuel billionaires? They are the ones here getting handouts and yet again getting more projects approved. So come and explain, we should debate it urgently, you cannot have a safe environment for our children and continue approving fossil fuel projects.