Beetaloo gas field threatens Australia’s already inadequate emissions reduction target

Photo from the ABC: Burning off gas

Contributed by Ben Wilson

A new report shows that the pollution that will result from fracking at Beetaloo by Tamboran Resources in the Northern Territory will be even worse than previously assumed. In the light of what this report reveals, there is no way pressing ahead with this project can be justified.

The prior findings of report by the government commissioned and CSIRO led Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance, understated the threat of greenhouse emissions by at least 56 percent. this is the finding of a new report by Climate Analytics.

Climate Analytics, which had been commissioned by the Nurrdalinji Aboriginal Corporation, found that forensic analysis shows that fracking at Beetaloo and processing in Darwin would result in 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse emissions over 25 years. This means 45 percent more emissions than claimed by the earlier findings. An increase le found by Climate Analytics, means more emissions than the existing government emission reduction target and adds 11 percent to Australia’s total emissions.

Photo from NT News: Tamboran Resources’ Beetaloo fracking site in the Northern Territory

The claim by the Territory government, that recommendations coming out of scientific inquiry into fracking had been met has been blown out of the water.

Climate analytics argues that the government commissioned modelling focused too heavily on claimed and exaggerated offsets, instead of on direct cuts. This produced results that don’t match reality.

These offsets involve sequestering carbon in soil and forests. Many experts have demonstrated that the claims of the effectiveness of these methods are full of holes. The decision to rely on these measures is politically and not scientifically determined. This set the parameter for the government commissioned inquiry.

Another touted offsetting solution is the creation of what is called blue hydrogen from captured emissions. The CSIRO report had assumed a 90 percent capture by this means. /a monumental weakness of this argument is that no blue hydrogen facility exists anywhere in the world. This is a theoretical proposition at best.

Blue hydrogen is supposed to be created by mixing natural gas and steam and introducing a chemical catalyst to turn the gas into hydrogen and carbon monoxide. Water is then added to turn the poisonous carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide and some more hydrogen. But the process also creates methane. This and the carbon dioxide must still be dealt with. Blue hydrogen is not as clean as its proponents suggest.

Should Beetaloo go ahead, it will mean that Australia’s carbon reduction commitment is far less likely to be met. Not only because of the significant increase that this project will, but also because it signifies a weakness of political will for the effort needed to achieve the set-out goals.

The new finding will be tabled in the Senate.

A responsible government stop the Beetaloo fracking project.

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