‘It’s not so simple’

Gas and oil insider speaks out

AS 10,000 protestors in Forrest Place demanded the end of fossil fuel use, a manager at a multinational oil and gas company blended in among the students, politicians, activists and greenies calling for the death of his industry.

Speaking anonymously, the company man, who has experience in climate change policy, said he had some sympathy for the protestors who wanted to put him out of business.

“I do understand and have sympathy for the underlying concerns – but they have very little understanding about what needs to happen to solve the problem… yes, the world isn’t doing enough but it’s very simplistic to say ‘can’t we just stop all fossil fuels and go to renewables?’

“Even if Australia went to renewables overnight, Qatar or the US would take up LNG, or worse another country might start exporting coal which would increase global greenhouse emissions.”

He says it’s a global problem and for fairness’ sake it has to be tackled alongside global poverty.

“Even to deny people access to coal is an equity issue. Australia’s exports of LNG contributes to reducing emissions globally in Asia compared to coal. If you’re using LNG to produce electricity [then] the emissions are about half.”

His company has interests in natural gas, which many of the protesters want an end to. Even if it’s better than coal, they see it as damaging and slowing the uptake of renewable energy.


Veteran Greens MP Robin Chapple was at Saturday’s rally: “We need to completely phase out fossil fuels and transition to renewable energy … in line with the science. Any climate policy that does not reflect the urgency of our situation is inadequate.

“The children who organised and led the rallies are the generation who are having to deal with our mess – and we are running out of time to fix it,” he said

The gas man agrees some change is needed, but he doesn’t want to see it lead to the economic collapse of WA, and transitioning to LNG can ease the pain of a longer-term take up of renewables while those technologies mature.

“If we want to remain a democracy, then we have to do it this way.

While a lot of the talk on the day was about the wellbeing of the planet, Richard Yin from Doctors for the Environment said human health was imperilled.

“Clean water, a healthy climate, and access to good food — all these are threatened under climate change. We know that the climate will get more unpredictable. With climate warming there’s going to be increased heat waves, more droughts, more adverse climatic events like storms, bushfires and floods, so for us it’s a public health emergency. These things cost lives. These events distress people both physically and mentally.

“Every one forgets the bushfires and the storms after a year or two, but the psychological impacts go on for years.“


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