As Madeleine King unveils new oil and gas exploration sites, Australia risks breaking the brake and accelerator of climate change.


“It’s the bubbles in your soda water or outside of your SodaStream,” he explained. “So, you know, we have to keep the balance, how we think about carbon dioxide.”

These points, in addition to King’s observation about sparkling water, are disputed at best outside the oil and gas industry.

Instead of exploring for new gas, Australia could ensure its energy security by selling less of our existing supply abroad.

Most of the experts do they see a future for gas in economies that are decarbonizing, but as a peak technology that will kick in quickly during short periods of high demand. The world cannot expect to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and continue to expand the gas industry.

In 2021, the International Energy Agency said that keeping warming to 1.5 degrees required that no new oil and gas infrastructure be built beyond that committed to last year.

Carbon capture and storage has never worked commercially at scale, despite billions of dollars of public money being siphoned off over decades.

Grattan Institute energy program director Tony Wood noted Friday that a decade ago he was one of many who believed carbon capture and storage facilities would now join aging coal plants to make them carbon neutral. It never happened and no one raises the suggestion anymore, because the cost of carbon capture kept rising while the cost of renewable energy alternatives kept falling.

Even the argument that Australian gas displaces foreign coal, thereby reducing global emissions, has been challenged by CSIRO in a study commissioned (and later seated) by Australia’s biggest energy exporter, Woodside. In most of the cases studied, CSIRO researchers found that more gas would have a “negative impact” by delaying renewable energy adoption, prolonging coal-fired power, or increasing gas emissions.

Hearing a key figure in this Labor government raise the talking points relentlessly fought under the former coalition government came as a shock to many observers. one told the Herald Y Age that King’s press releases could have been written by his predecessor, Keith Pitt.


Greens leader Adam Bandt was unimpressed, as was independent Zoe Daniel.

“The road to a 43 percent cut, let alone the larger reductions that are actually required, will be difficult enough,” he said. “We need substance as well as symbolism. I am seeking reports from the government on the reason behind this puzzling announcement.”

Called on the subject by a reporter at a news conference, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese asked the reporter if he had driven to work.

It’s a fair point. Australia cannot give up its immediate need for fossil fuels, nor its dependence on trade. In addition, the release of new deposits for exploration is an unremarkable annual task carried out by the Department of Industry.

But having one minister address an audience celebrating the long-term expansion of the fossil fuel sector while another engages a different minister in the difficult task of rapidly cutting emissions exposes the government to accusations of greenwashing.

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