Western Australia gas expansion generates Australian and international campaign

Image by Michael Jalaru Torres: Raelene Cooper, a First Nations advocate featured

Contributed by Ben Wilson

New approved projects gas in Western Australia are generating opposition and triggered climate protests that will build momentum in the coming months. The focus is on Woodside and Santos. Both participate in extracting exploiting gas from the huge Scarborough field off the coast OF Western Australia. The gas is to be exported to other countries as liquid petroleum Gas (LPG).

Active community opposition has been there all along and it will continue. The involvement of Greenpeace is taking the battle to the world, and a welcome development for Australian campaigners.

Because Santos is the biggest regional exporter of gas in the region, they have become the prime target of Greenpeace. Woodside is not being overlooked. Its German affiliate has conducted actions there over several months, aimed at disrupting delivery of important equipment destined for the Scarborough gas fields. The Emma Oldendorff, a ship transporting pipes was blocked.

Greenpeace Germany campaigner Manfred Santen was involved in the August protest and said the activists stopped the ship for “half a day.”

Photo by David Klammer/Greenpeace: at the side of the Emma Oldendorff in the Port of Brake in Germany

“[We] made it clear that we think the damage or the potential damage to the marine environment in Australia is such a big risk that they have to step out of these projects,” he said.

Protesters also targeted Uniper’s headquarters in Dusseldorf and RWE’s headquarters in Essen. Both are German companies purchasing gas from Woodside.

In July, Greenpeace projected an image of the threatened Ningaloo reef featuring a mother humpback whale and her calf on the side of an RWE gas power plant in Lingen.

Photo by Marcus Meyer/Greenpeace: An image of humpback whales from WA was projected on the side of RWE’s gas-fired power plant in Lingen

Professor Newman, who is also a lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said the protests would be concerning gas companies.

“They are worried because this is a continuation of a growing phenomenon that has got right into their shareholder meetings and boards,” he said.

“We need to be aware that this massive investment that’s beginning in the Pilbara for gas is likely to be stranded.”

Greenpeace has also been active in Australia, joining local communities and groups in this battle.

Greenpeace Australia’s Jess Panegyres said the group’s global activism would not be slowing down.

“People are so concerned about the climate and biodiversity impacts of this project, it’s globally significant that people on the other side of the world are protesting this,” she said.

“This is contributing to a global climate disaster.”

Peter Newman added, the international attention was the beginning of a “continual series of protests” about the Scarborough project.

“The world is moving away from all forms of fossil fuels … gas is not a transition fuel anymore, it is simply a fossil fuel that needs to be banned and removed from the planet,” he said.

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