Science Says Stop Gas Exploitation But Climate Criminal US, Australia & Canada Back Increasing Gas Use

Natural Gas

Scientists and science-informed activists say  that to save the Planet there must be rapid cessation of fossil fuel exploitation, but oil, coal and gas use continue to rise. America and its lackeys  Australia and Canada are variously committed to gas and a disastrous coal to gas transition (gas can be dirtier than coal greenhouse gas-wise). Pro-fossil fuels Trump has been defeated in the US Presidential Election but commitment to massive  and growing gas exploitation remains  in the rich Anglosphere countries of the US, Australia and Canada.

(1). Exceptionalist US, Canada and Australia project increasing gas use in coming decades.

According to Wikipedia: “Natural gas was the United States’ largest source of energy production in 2016, representing 33 percent of all energy produced in the country. Natural gas has been the largest source of electrical generation in the United States since July 2015… Marketed natural gas production in 2015 was 28.8 trillion cubic feet, a 5.4 percent increase over 2014, and a 52 percent increase over the production of 18.9 trillion cubic feet in 2005” [1], and “Natural gas was the Canada’s third largest source of energy production in 2018, representing 22.3% of all energy produced from fuels in the country. By contrast, the share of fuel-based energy production from natural gas in 2013 was 17.0%, indicating a growth rate of approximately 1.06% per year” [2]. Neoliberal and US lackey Australia is a major  exploiter of gas, and in 2020 overtook Qatar as the world’s largest exporter of Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) [4]. The neoliberal, anti-science, effective climate change denialist, pro-coal,  pro-gas and climate criminal  Australian Coalition Government has announced a massive, post-Covid-19 “gas-led recovery” [5]. As set out by the United Nations Environment  Program (UNEP) “The Production Gap” report (2019): “Governments are planning to produce about 50% more fossil fuels by 2030 than would be consistent with a 2°C pathway and 120% more than would be consistent with a 1.5°C pathway” [6]. The US, Canada and Australia are projected to increase gas exploitation over the coming 2 decades [6].

(2). Rapid cessation of fossil fuel use is needed but global gas use and atmospheric methane (CH4 ) are increasing.

Eminent physicist and cosmologist Professor Stephen Hawking (of 120 Nobel laureate University of Cambridge) has commented succinctly on the existential threats to Humanity posed by nuclear weapons and global warming: “We see great peril if governments and societies do not take action now to render nuclear weapons obsolete and to prevent further climate change” [7]. The operative word here is “now”.

Many industrialized countries have legally binding net-zero emissions targets e.g. China has a policy of “net zero emissions by 2060”, Sweden has “net zero emissions by 2045”,  and the UK, France, Denmark, New Zealand, Hungary, Japan, and South Korea have a “net zero emissions by 2050” policy [9]. Climate criminal Australia  under the anti-science, anti-environment,  climate criminal and Trumpist Australian Coalition Government  has attacked the Labor Opposition for adopting this “net zero emissions by 2050” policy. The Coalition was forced to concede that Australia  might  get to “net zero emissions” sometime in the latter half of the 21st century but refuses to be more specific. In stark contrast, the  science-informed and humanitarian Australian Greens have a laudably tough program: “A safer climate will require a return to an atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases equivalent to 350 parts per million of CO2, or lower…  A nationwide, systematic response is required to drastically reduce emissions from all sectors, draw down greenhouse gases, and be greenhouse gas neutral or negative by 2035” [10].

President-elect Joe Biden has a policy of “net zero emissions by 2050” as set out in his platform: “As president, Biden will lead the world to address the climate emergency and lead through the power of example, by ensuring the U.S. achieves a 100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions no later than 2050” [11]. Now Australia is a craven US lackey, and has been involved in all US Asian wars since 1950, atrocities associated with 40 million Asian deaths from violence or imposed deprivation [12-15] (the presently ruling Coalition supported all these wars and Labor,  presently in opposition, supported all these wars except for the Vietnam War and the Iraq War). Will the Trumpist, anti-science and effective climate change denialist Coalition Government  continue with its climate criminal policies (it is among world leaders in 16 areas of climate criminality [16, 17]) or will it submit to US leadership on climate policy under Biden?

Unfortunately it is now effectively too late to avoid a catastrophic plus 2C temperature rise but we are obliged to do everything we can to make the future “less bad” for our descendants. Indeed it is argued that but for the global dimming effect of sulphate aerosols in the atmosphere the temperature rise would already be +2C. Science-informed people know that we are badly running out of time to deal with a worsening Climate Emergency.  The goal of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement – endorsed by all countries except climate change denialist and climate criminal Trump America –   is to ideally keep global warming below plus 1.5 degrees Centigrade (+1.5C) and certainly well below a catastrophic +2C [18].  However the latest IPCC report says that +1.5C will be exceeded within 10 years [19, 20]. Indeed +2C is already  implicit in present circumstances because  of the cooling effect of sulphate aerosols deriving from coal burning. Paleoclimatologist  and earth scientist Dr Andrew Glikson (2019): “As the globe warms, to date by a mean of near ~1.5 oC, or ~2.0oC when the masking effects of sulphur dioxide and other aerosols are considered, and by a mean of ~2.3oC in the Polar Regions, the expansion of warm tropical latitudes and the polar-ward migration of climate zones ensue in large scale droughts in subtropical latitudes such as in inland Australia and southern Africa. A similar trend is taking place in the northern hemisphere where the Sahara desert is expanding northward, with consequent heat waves across the Mediterranean and Europe. Since 1979 the planet’s tropics have been expanding poleward by 56 km to 111 km per decade in both hemispheres. A leading commentator called this Earth’s bulging waistline… Turning the Earth into a gas chamber. Whereas in good old’ medieval times the poisoning of wells constituted a hanging offence, nowadays despite of overwhelming scientific and empirical evidence, overloading of the atmosphere with carbon dioxide and acidification of the water is fully legal and constitutes the foundation of great Big Oil economic empires, and through that decisive political influence” [21]. It gets much worse – the carbon pollution mitigation promises of national governments to the 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference mean a +3.2C of global warming by 2100 [22].

Global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in all key economic sectors of energy production and non-energy production are increasing whereas the worsening Climate Emergency demands urgently decreasing GHG emissions and ultimately net zero GHG emissions ASAP [23].

Because gas leaks and the GWP for CH4 is 105 relative to that of the same mass of CO2 on a 20 year time frame with aerosol impacts considered, at 2.6% leakage the Fugitive Emissions from natural gas exploitation have roughly the same greenhouse gas effect as the CO2 from burning the residual gas. Indeed in typical circumstances using gas is worse GHG-wise that using coal and hence a “coal-to-gas transition” is a dangerous absurdity. There must be rapid cessation of gas exploitation. However the reality is starkly otherwise. Thus the atmospheric CH4 is remorselessly increasing in a quasi-linear fashion [24].

The International Energy Agency (IEA): “Natural gas had a remarkable year in 2018, with a 4.6% increase in consumption accounting for nearly half of the increase in global energy demand. Since 2010, 80% of growth has been concentrated in three key regions: the United States, where the shale gas revolution is in full swing; China, where economic expansion and air quality concerns have underpinned rapid growth; and the Middle East, where gas is a gateway to economic diversification from oil… Gas-fired power generation increased 4% in 2018, led by strong generation growth in the United States and China. At around 6100 TWh, gas accounts for 23% of overall power generation” [25]. Gas use has increased in a quasi-linear fashion in the period 1990-2017  from 43.892 x 1018  J in 1990 to 69.888 x 1018 J in 2017 at an average rate of 0.96 x 1018 joules (J) per year ( 844.1 Mt gas in 1990 to 1,344.0  Mt gas in 2017 at an average increase of 18.5 Mt gas per year or 1.7% pa) [25].

(3). Gas is dirtier than coal greenhouse gas-wise.

The following letter was sent by me (Dr  Gideon Polya) to Australian MPs and to media and climate activists in Australia and  worldwide on 2 October 2020:

LETTER: Dear fellow humanitarian/Senator/Honorable Member etc ,

Australia is among world leaders in 16 areas of climate criminality. The pro-coal, pro-gas, anti-Green, neoliberal Australian Coalition Government is committed to a “coal-to-gas transition” and a post-Covid-19 pandemic “gas-led economic recovery”, but …

Gas is dirtier than coal greenhouse gas-wise.

Methane (CH4) is a gas, leaks, is 85% of natural gas, and has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 105 relative to the same mass of CO2 on a 20 year time frame and with aerosol impacts considered. On this basis and assuming that natural gas is 100% CH4 or an equivalent hydrocarbon,  a gas  leakage of 2.6% means that the greenhouse gas (GHG) warming effect from the leaked gas is the same as that of the CO2 from burning the remaining 97.4% of the gas.

With no gas leakage, burning 1 tonne of CH4 yields 2.75 tonnes CO2 as compared to burning 1 tonne of carbon (C) yielding 3.67 tonnes CO2.

However suppose we have 100 tonnes (100 t) of methane (CH4) and A tonnes leaks so that  (100 – A) tCH4  x 2.75 t CO2-equivalent / t CH4 = A t CH4 x 105 t CO2-equivalent/ t CH4 -> 275 – 2.75A = 105 A – >  107.5A  = 275 -> A = 275/107.5 -> A = 2.56 or about 2.6.

Thus with a mere 2.6% of systemic gas leakage (it is about 3% in the US), the burning  of 1 tonne gas results in 2 x 0.974 x 2.75 = 5.36 tonnes CO2-equivalent i.e. with 2.6% systemic  gas leakage, burning natural gas is about 5.36/3.67 = 1.5 times dirtier GHG-wise than burning coal.

Gas is dirty energy, gas is not clean energy, gas is not clean-er than coal GHG-wise, and indeed gas is dirtier than coal GHG-wise. The present absurd, dangerous and deadly  coal-to-gas transition is testament to neoliberal One Percenter and Mainstream greed and  mendacity.

While the falsehood of “gas is cleaner than coal GHG-wise” can be attributed to stupidity and ignorance on the part of scientifically illiterate pro-gas politicians, in the face of expert scientific advice (e.g. from smart, first year high school students) it thence becomes a lie, and utterly unforgivable intellectual child abuse when imposed on children by politicians – for which they must be removed from Parliament and all public office by an indignant electorate.  Peace is the only way but silence kills and silence is complicity.

Yours sincerely, Dr Gideon Polya, Melbourne, Australia. END LETTER.

This picture changes a bit if we compare GHG emission per GJ (Gigajoule) generated from burning gas or coal, but on this basis too, gas is dirtier than coal GHG-wise as the gas leakage increases above 2.6%.

Combustion of methane produces 50.1kJ/g CH4 (50.1 GJ/tCH4) as compared to that from carbon of  32.6 GJ/t for pure carbon and the best anthracite (black coal), and about 17.0 GJ/t for brown coal or lignite (as used brown coal-based  power stations in my state of Victoria, Australia [26].

The CO2-equivalent from burning CH4 at 2.6% leakage is 5.36 t CO2-e /t CH4, from burning carbon is 3.67 t CO2-e/t carbon, and 0.65 x 3.67 = 2.39 t CO2-e/t brown coal (lignite that is about 65% carbon).

Accordingly, on this basis, the “CO2-equivalent per GJ” is 5.36/ 50.1 = 0.107 for gas, 3.67/32.6 = 0.113 for pure carbon and the best anthracite, but 2.39/ 17.0 = 0.141 for brown coal or lignite.

Thus at 2.6% gas leakage,  the “CO2-equivalent per GJ”  is much the same for methane and carbon,  but is slightly (1.3 times)  bigger for brown coal (as in Victoria, Australia).

However the “CO2-equivalent per GJ” for burning gas increases as you increase the degree of systemic leakage above 2.6% (e.g. an estimated 4% lifetime” leakage”  with fracking in the US [27]).

My conclusion is that with 2.6% systemic gas leakage, burning natural gas is about 5.36/3.67 = 1.5 times dirtier GHG-wise than burning coal on a mass basis. On a “CO2-equivalent per GJ” basis and with 2.6% leakage, gas and top quality coal are about the same but brown coal is 1.3 times as bad as gas – but on a per GJ basis gas use becomes dirtier than black coal and brown coal GHG-wise as the degree of systemic gas leakage increases above about 3% and 4%, respectively.

(4). What do science-informed experts say about gas use and its global impact?

As analysed above, gas leaks and Shindell et al. have re-evaluated the Global Warming Potential of CH4 relative to the same mass of CO2 as 105 on a 20 year timeframe and with aerosol impacts considered [28]. Some science-informed expert opinions on the danger of continuing gas use are set out below. (leading science-informed (international climate activist organization) Australian branch press release (2020): “According to climate activist group, the push by the [Australian] Government’s hand-picked National Covid-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC) to prop up large gas projects will be bad for communities and the climate. The group is calling an economic recovery that prioritises renewable energy and low carbon jobs for those most at risk and in the sectors most impacted such as health, the arts, and education. The Chair of the NCCC, Nev Power, is reported in today’s Australian Financial Review to be advocating for two major gas initiatives: developing gas projects such as the Narrabri project, building a gas pipeline connecting WA to the East Coast. According to the CEO of 350 Australia Lucy Manne, “It is not surprising that a Commission stacked with gas executives is asking for Government support for gas projects. This pro-fossil fuel agenda flies in the face of widespread community opposition to gas, evidence that gas is about as polluting as coal, and the potential to prioritise clean industries of the future”… Research released in April estimates that once fugitive emissions are included, the greenhouse gas emissions from the Narrabri gas project would “…approach those of coal”” [29].

Australian Climate Council (composed of experts in key aspect of the area) (2020): “Gas in Australia is dangerous, expensive and unnecessary. It is in no way a form of ‘climate action’. Expanding gas supply will fix none of the problems that those pushing such an expansion claim it will. The real solution: a rapid transition to renewables, leaving all fossil fuels in the ground… Burning fossil fuels – coal, gas, and oil – is driving climate change, which is making extreme weather events more frequent and more extreme. The United Nations Environment Program last year showed that the international community is already on track to emit twice the level of greenhouse gases required to blow past internationally agreed temperature goals. Australia is the world’s biggest supplier of coal and liquefied natural gas (LNG). The global community has a narrow window in which international goals might be achieved. The fossil fuel resources Australia opened through the 1990s were dangerous brinkmanship. Those opened in the early 2000s were harmful by any measure given our growing understanding of climate change. Planning to open new reserves in 2020 after decades of unconstrained growth is highly irresponsible… Extraction of gas, and particularly unconventional gas (or coal seam gas), is a highly polluting activity. Gas is primarily made up of methane, a greenhouse gas which is up to 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the [20 year] short-term. Massive quantities of methane are released into the atmosphere through gas exploration, extraction, processing, and consumption… Methane emissions from unconventional gas (e.g. coal seam gas) may cancel any benefit of gas over coal [30].

Robert Goodland and Jeff Angfang (World Bank analysts) on upwardly revised global GHG emissions from properly taking CH4 , land use and livestock into account (2009): “The table to the right summarizes the categories of livestock-based emissions and our estimates of their size. We begin with the FAO’s 7,516 million tons of CO2e per year attributable to livestock, an amount established by adding up GHG emissions involved in clearing land to graze livestock and grow feed, keeping livestock alive, and processing and transporting the end product. We show that 25,048 million tons of CO2e attributable to livestock have been undercounted or overlooked; of that subtotal, 3,000 million tons are misallocated and 22, 048 million tons are entirely uncounted. When uncounted tons are added to the global inventory of atmospheric GHGs, that inventory rises from 41,755 million tons to 63,803 million tons. FAO’s 7,516 million tons of CO2e attributable to livestock then decline from18 percent of worldwide GHGs to 11.8 percent. Let’s look at each category of uncounted or misallocated GHGs…” [31].

Dr Benjamin Hmiel et al. (University of Rochester) on under-estimation of  global anthropogenic fossil CH4 emissions (2020):  “Atmospheric methane (CH4) is a potent greenhouse gas, and its mole fraction has more than doubled since the preindustrial era. Fossil fuel extraction and use are among the largest anthropogenic sources of CH4 emissions, but the precise magnitude of these contributions is a subject of debate. Carbon-14 in CH4 (14CH4) can be used to distinguish between fossil (14C-free) CH4 emissions and contemporaneous biogenic sources; however, poorly constrained direct 14CH4 emissions from nuclear reactors have complicated this approach since the middle of the 20th century. Moreover, the partitioning of total fossil CH4 emissions (presently 172 to 195 teragrams CH4 per year) between anthropogenic and natural geological sources (such as seeps and mud volcanoes) is under debate; emission inventories suggest that the latter account for about 40 to 60 teragrams CH4 per year. Geological emissions were less than 15.4 teragrams CH4 per year at the end of the Pleistocene, about 11,600 years ago, but that period is an imperfect analogue for present-day emissions owing to the large terrestrial ice sheet cover, lower sea level and extensive permafrost. Here we use preindustrial-era ice core 14CH4 measurements to show that natural geological CH4 emissions to the atmosphere were about 1.6 teragrams CH4 per year [ 1 Tg = 1012 g = 1 Mt] , with a maximum of 5.4 teragrams CH4 per year (95 per cent confidence limit)—an order of magnitude lower than the currently used estimates. This result indicates that anthropogenic fossil CH4 emissions are underestimated by about 38 to 58 teragrams CH4 per year [4.0 –  6.1 Gt CO2-equivalent per year assuming a GWP for CH4 of 105 on a 20 year time frame with aerosol impacts included [28]], or about 25 to 40 per cent of recent estimates. Our record highlights the human impact on the atmosphere and climate, provides a firm target for inventories of the global CH4 budget, and will help to inform strategies for targeted emission reductions” [32, 33].

Professor Robert W. Howarth (biogeochemist and ecosystem scientist, Cornell University) (2019): “Methane has been rising rapidly in the atmosphere over the past decade, contributing to global climate change. Unlike the late 20th century when the rise in atmospheric methane was accompanied by an enrichment in the heavier carbon stable isotope (¹³C) of methane, methane in recent years has become more depleted in ¹³C. This depletion has been widely interpreted as indicating a primarily biogenic source for the increased methane. Here we show that part of the change may instead be associated with emissions from shale-gas and shale-oil development. Previous studies have not explicitly considered shale gas, even though most of the increase in natural gas production globally over the past decade is from shale gas. The methane in shale gas is somewhat depleted in ¹³C relative to conventional natural gas. Correcting earlier analyses for this difference, we conclude that shale-gas production in North America over the past decade may have contributed more than half of all of the increased emissions from fossil fuels globally and approximately one-third of the total increased emissions from all sources globally over the past decade” [27].

Bruce Robertson (Energy Finance Analyst, Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA)) (2020): “The [gas] industry claims burning fossil fuels such as ‘natural’ gas is cleaner than burning coal, a commodity on its way out as the world transitions to cleaner more sustainable energy sources. This is simply not the case. Gas is worse than coal in the short term due to its release of methane into the atmosphere. Since 2012, peer reviewed studies have shown ‘natural’ gas emissions have been underestimated by at least 25-40%, with some studies suggesting as much as 60%. As every state and territory in Australia has set a target for a 50% reduction in emissions by 2050, gas, like coal, is simply not going to get us there. In fact, gas and LNG is looking like a very bad investment with companies misleading shareholders and the general public about the true effects of their products. Methane from gas poses the greatest threat to the warming climate. If you leak more than 2% to 3% of methane, it is worse for the climate than coal” [34].

Bruce Robertson and  Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) Report on gas threat (2020): “Conventional or ‘natural’ gas releases methane domestically through gas leakages all along the supply chain, and during production and via transport to customers and business. Methane survives in the atmosphere for a shorter period than coal’s carbon dioxide, but over 20 years has 86 times the planet-warming potential. Electricity produced from LNG is arguably even worse over a 20-year time frame. Methane is the greatest threat to the warming climate. If you leak more than 2% to 3% of methane, it is worse for the climate than coal. Global emissions of methane are increasing rapidly as the gas industry continues to expand globally” [35].

Union of Concerned Scientists on CH4 leakage impact (2014): “Preliminary studies and field measurements show that these so-called “fugitive” methane emissions range from 1 to 9 percent of total life cycle emissions. Whether natural gas has lower life cycle greenhouse gas emissions than coal and oil depends on the assumed leakage rate, the global warming potential of methane over different time frames, the energy conversion efficiency, and other factors. One recent study found that methane losses must be kept below 3.2 percent for natural gas power plants to have lower life cycle emissions than new coal plants over short time frames of 20 years or fewer. And if burning natural gas in vehicles is to deliver even marginal benefits, methane losses must be kept below 1 percent and 1.6 percent compared with diesel fuel and gasoline, respectively. Technologies are available to reduce much of the leaking methane, but deploying such technology would require new policies and investments” [36].

(5).  Good advice – science-informed political opinion that gas use must end.

Australian Greens (a science-informed, pro-human rights and pro-environment party with about 10% of the Australian vote)(2020): “As a community, we’re facing a dual crisis of COVID-19 and the climate emergency. Both are threatening our way of life.  The climate emergency has not gone away. Scientists are telling us that we are in the critical decade. We have to halve pollution by 2030 and get to zero emissions as fast as possible or we will face catastrophic consequences of irreversible global heating. The mining, burning and exporting of coal, oil and gas are the biggest causes of the climate crisis. Gas is a fossil fuel and a major cause of the climate crisis. It is as dirty as coal. [Australian Coalition PM] Scott Morrison wants to give public money meant for renewable energy to new polluting gas projects. Subsiding gas through the green energy bank is like pouring money from the health budget into asbestos. Both the Liberal and Labor parties have accepted millions of dollars in donations from gas companies. These donations are having major influence on their decisions to support new gas projects which will trash the environment, threaten our water and air and lock us in for even more dangerous global heating. Now is the time for bold government investment in publicly owned renewable technology not dirty gas projects. The right investment now will drive our economy into the future and create hundreds of thousands of jobs. Any “recovery plan” that doesn’t keep coal, oil and gas in the ground will make the problems we face worse. It’s not too late, but we need to act now to say no to gas and declare a climate emergency” [37].

Adam Bandt (Australian Greens MP and leader of the Australian Greens) on removal of gas-fired power plants by 2030 (2020): “Over the next 10 years, we might need some of the existing gas plants but they will phase out over the next 10 years if we had a serious plan to do it. We could get to zero emissions within Australia and become a renewable energy super power that is exporting our sunlight instead of exporting our gas and coal… For somewhere in the order of about $25 billion a year increase in net debt over the next 10 years, we end up with lower debt than most OECD countries and we end up with full employment and 100 per cent renewables… [instead of this] global warming becomes runaway [and] becomes unstoppable [38].

Mark Butler (Australian Labor Opposition Energy spokesperson) (2020): “Now, 20 years into the 21st century, we know that coal and gas won’t underpin continued prosperity, whether for Australia or the rest of the world. In fact, we know that these fuels come with a huge cost that to this day isn’t reflected in their price or in government policy. The cost is the impact that these fuels have on our climate, and by extension on our health, our security, our safety and of course our continued prosperity”[39].

Dr John Hewson (economist and former Australian Coalition Leader of the Opposition)(2020): “We need a commitment to end fossil fuel subsidies . . . we need a commitment to accelerate the closure of coal-fired power stations and to oppose new gas generation… They [Morrison Coalition Government MPs] ignore the calls from business, including the big miners who are now committed to exiting thermal coal and now engaged in various objectives to get to net-zero. They ignore the gathering momentum within the finance and investor community. Banks are not lending for fossil fuel projects, insurers are not insuring them, the big asset owners including the sovereign wealth funds and super funds are exiting climate exposed investments. The Morrison government turns a deaf ear to all of these warnings and sources of pressure” [40].

Kevin Rudd (former Australian Labor PM) on the Australian Coalition Government’s “gas-led recovery” (2020): “Besides the United States under [Donald] Trump and Brazil under [Jair] Bolsonaro, we in Australia are the only major economy that does not take the need for action on climate change seriously. Nor do we recognise the economic opportunities that will come with that action. I would argue this is bad company to keep. I fear that seeking to untangle our carbon-intensive economy much later than the rest of the world could in fact be what causes the next recession in Australia as the global economy increasingly walks away from fossil fuel dependency” [41].

Malcolm Turnbull (former Australian Coalition PM) re “a gas-led recovery” (2020): “This is crazy stuff. To say that [gas] will lead your energy revolution and cheaper energy is a fantasy, and the reason it is a fantasy is because there is no cheap gas on the east coast. It costs too much to extract” and re “net zero by 2050 target”: “The idea that you crash the economy by cutting your emissions is just again, that’s ideology taking the place of what should be sound environmental and economic policy. There is a reason just about every other developed country in the world apart from [Donald] Trump’s America is taking a very different approach” [42].

UN Production Gap Report (2019): “Oil and gas are also on track to exceed carbon budgets, as countries continue to invest in fossil fuel infrastructure that “locks in” oil and gas use. The effects of this lock-in widen the production gap over time, until countries are producing 43% (36 million barrels per day) more oil and 47% (1,800 billion cubic meters) more gas by 2040 than would be consistent with a 2°C pathway… With average lifetimes of 20 years or longer for pipelines, terminals, wells, and platforms, the time to begin planning for a wind-down of gas production is, as with other fossil fuels, already upon us… Thus the continued rapid expansion of gas supplies and systems risks locking in a much higher gas trajectory than is consistent with a 1.5°C or 2°C future. However, national plans and projections – and the current boom in liquefied natural gas (LNG) infrastructure – indicate that countries are on track for this kind of rapid expansion” [6].

(6). Bad advice – incorrect, dangerous, pro-gas Anglosphere political assertions.  


Anthony Albanese (Australian Labor Opposition leader) interviewed by the ABC RN Breakfast (2020): “Of course, gas is cleaner than burning coal, but we need to transition to clean energy” [43].

Terri Butler (Queensland Federal MP and Labor Opposition Shadow Minister for the Environment) in a repeated response to being  repeatedly asked “More or less gas?” (2020): “We’d like to see gas form an important part of the transition to Australia becoming a renewable energy super power” [44].

Matthew Canavan (Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, 2016-2020) (2017):  “There is no pathway forward for long-term, sustainable and affordable gas in this country unless the states pull their finger out and start developing their gas” [45].

Dr Alan Finkel (Australia’s Chief Scientist) (2020): “But, there is a limit to how much solar and wind we can use and still retain a reliable system. Ultimately, we will need to complement solar and wind with a range of technologies such as high levels of storage, long-distance transmission, and much better efficiency in the way we use energy. But, while these technologies are being scaled up, we need an energy companion today that can react rapidly to changes in solar and wind output. An energy companion that is itself relatively low in emissions, and that only operates when needed. In the short-term, as the Prime Minister and Minister [for Energy and Emissions Reduction] Angus Taylor have previously stated, natural gas will play that critical role. In fact, natural gas is already making it possible for nations to transition to a reliable, and relatively low emissions, electricity supply” [46].

Joel Fitzgibbon (pro-coal and pro-gas Labor Opposition Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Resources) (2020): “We support gas. Gas will be important in saving current jobs and jobs over the next considerable period of time. And of course, gas will help us build the jobs of tomorrow. Coal will also help us build the jobs of tomorrow. Both of those baseload providers will be important to the stability of the grid and will be important to allowing more renewables into the energy system. We cannot do it without them”  [47].

Michael Gunner (Northern Territory Chief Minister” on a gas-based Northern Territory economy (2018): “The number one priority of this Government is to create local jobs and all of our efforts go towards this goal. Diversifying our economy, investing in job-creating infrastructure, turbo-charging tourism, growing our population, repositioning the Territory as a place of opportunity, to visit, study, do business, invest, live and raise a family – these will all create more jobs for more Territorians. Our Five Point NT Gas Strategy will create jobs through exploration, production, supply, export, manufacturing, research and innovation. There is enormous opportunity in the Territory for the diversification of the gas industry, which will create many hundreds of local jobs” [48].

Andrew Liveris (Northern Territory-born international petrochemicals mogul advising the Federal and NT Governments on a gas-led post-Covid-19 economic recovery) (2020): “The opportunity for the [Northern] Territory is not unlike the way the US looks at Alaska. Alaska is always top-of-mind for its pristine beauty, its relative remoteness, what it does in terms of its ability to harness its geography, which of course is tourism, but also oil and gas production. So we’ve got to put the [Northern] Territory in that psychology” [49].

Scott Morrison (pro-coal, pro-oil and pro-gas Australian Coalition PM) (2020):”[We intend to] get more gas, more often and more reliably – by resetting our east coast gas market, unlocking additional gas to drive recovery; paving the way, ultimately, for a world-leading Australian Gas Hub to support high-wage jobs, including and especially in manufacturing. We’ve got to get the gas… There is no credible energy transition plan, for an economy like Australia in particular, that does not involve the greater use of gas as an important transition fuel” [50].

David Speers (influential ABC presenter) repeatedly disputing gas dangers in interviewing science-informed Greens leader Adam Bandt) (2020: “ BANDT: You could get to zero emissions over the course of 10 years and get to full employment in this country, we could do it by winding back on some of the subsidies that the likes of Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer get to put cheap diesel into their trucks. You could still end up with a debt level in Australia that would be less than half of the OECD average. You’re talking about – we’ve just been told by the Treasurer that we are going to be in debt for a decade if not longer anyway, the question is what will we spend that money on, and for somewhere in the order of about $25 billion a year, increasing net debt over the next 10 years…

SPEERS: $25 billion a year for the next 10 years?

BANDT: We end up with lower debt than most OECD countries, and we end up with full employment and 100% renewables.

SPEERS: So about $250b?

BANDT: Spread over 10 years, and that’s invested to make sure we get to full employment so that we’re not dealing with a lost generation. One point to make here though is that gas is as dirty as coal. When you take into account the emissions – not only from burning it to generate electricity, but what leaks when you get it out of the ground….

SPEERS: OK, there is some debate around that.

BANDT: No, I don’t think there is. This is why the Government’s plan is so dire. They’re talking about unleashing in the Northern Territory alone, just one of the basins, something that is four times as big as Adani.

SPEERS: There is debate around that. The Chief Scientist and others”[51].

Angus Taylor (Australian Coalition Government Energy Minister) (2019): “Our LNG exports are dramatically reducing emissions in customer countries such as Japan, South Korea and China — the equivalent of up to 30 per cent of our emissions each year” [52].


Justin Trudeau (Canadian PM): “Obviously we are very concerned with OPEC’s decisions that are putting at risk the livelihoods of people around the world, particularly Canadians who work in the oil and gas sector. We are focused on helping those Canadians, helping people who are hardest hit economically by COVID-19. The measures we’ve put in place will support Canadians right across the country, including in our oil and gas sector, but we also know that it has been a sector that has been particularly hard hit and we will look for further help to be able to support people as they get through” [53].

United States:

President-elect Joe Biden (former Vice President under Obama)  (2020): “Fracking [for gas] has to continue because we need a transition. We’re going to get to net zero emissions by 2050, and we’ll get to net zero power admissions by 2035, but there’s no rationale to eliminate right now fracking” [54].

Barack Obama (former US president) on gas (2014): “Today, America is closer to energy independence than we’ve been in decades. One of the reasons why is natural gas – if extracted safely, it’s the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change. Businesses plan to invest almost $100 billion in new factories that use natural gas… It’s not just oil and natural gas production that’s booming; we’re becoming a global leader in solar, too” [55].

Mike Pence (Vice President under Trump): “Joe Biden and the radical left are going to abolish fossil fuels and ban fracking but we are not going to let it.We’re going to have more fracking, more American energy, more energy independence for this generation and for generations to come when we reelect President Donald Trump for four more years” [56].

President Donald Trump (climate change denier and mendacious, pro-fossil fuels and fascoid populist) (2020): “All my life I’ve seen guys… You study politics, and you say, “I’ve never seen anyone say, ‘We’re going to raise your taxes.’” That’s his primary theme, “We’re going to raise your taxes,” and “We’ll end fracking,” that was the other thing. Remember? He’d said it for a year, and then he came to Pennsylvania. They said, “We have a million jobs.” “Oh, okay, well, we’ll leave fracking.” But the people won’t let him. His bosses won’t let him. Biden has vowed to abolish the entire US oil industry. No fracking, no mining, no natural gas, no heating in the winter, no air conditioning in the summer, no electricity during peak hours. And gas prices, you like that $2 gas, right? How about $5, $6 and $7? “Darling, let’s sell the car. It’s a little bit too large. Let’s get a compact.” Biden’s plan is an economic death sentence for Pennsylvania. He will outlaw fracking and eradicate your great economy. You had the greatest year you’ve ever had last year. And now next year, you’re going to have the best. If this happens with the taxes and with the fracking, you’re going to have a real problem in Pennsylvania” [57].

Final comments.

The utter  falsehood of the assertion that “gas is cleaner than coal greenhouse gas-wise” underlies the perverse,  neoliberalism-driven coal-to-gas transition in climate criminal Australia, Canada and the US. This untruth can be generously attributed to stupidity and ignorance on the part of scientifically illiterate pro-gas politicians, but in the face of expert scientific advice (e.g. from smart, first year high school students) it thence becomes a lie. However this lie becomes utterly unforgivable intellectual child abuse when imposed on children by politicians – for which they must be removed from Parliament and all public office by an indignant electorate. Peace is the only way but silence kills and silence is complicity.

Like the rest of the world I breathed a huge sigh of relief when Joe Biden defeated the mendacious and bombastic Trump. However for political reasons Biden had to support natural gas and fracking.  Similarly, in Canada Justin Trudeau is vastly more palatable than the Conservative harpies but for political reasons is committed to planet-threatening oil and gas exploitation. In US lackey Australia the Australian Labor Party is vastly more preferable to the serial war criminal, climate criminal, anti-science, anti-environment, extreme right wing Coalition, but for electoral support reasons it is committed to long-term gas exploitation and to unlimited exports of coal, gas, iron ore and methanogenically-derived meat. Australia is blessed with a compulsory and preferential voting system – accordingly, decent Australians  who care for the Planet and future generations will utterly reject the climate criminal Coalition, vote 1 Greens and put the Coalition last in their order of preference.

In the last analysis ordinary folk must decide whom they will believe, scientifically-illiterate, neoliberal, pro-gas politicians or the world’s greatest scientific minds (as exampled by Stephen Hawking) who demand cessation of fossil fuel exploitation ASAP. Unfortunately, the western democracies have become Kleptocracies, Plutocracies, Murdochracies, Lobbyocracies, Corporatocracies, and Dollarocracies in which Big Money purchases people, politicians, parties, policies, public perception of reality, votes, more political power and more private profit. The world’s scientists are trumped (pun intended) by anti-science presstitutes as exampled in North America and Australia by the variously climate change denialist or effective climate change denialist Murdoch media [58]. Trump will soon be gone but mendacious and populist  Trumpism will continue globally as a powerful “Alliance between Mob and Capital” [59-63].

We have effectively run out of time to avoid a catastrophic plus 2C temperature rise. However decent people are obliged to do everything they can to make the future “less bad” for future generations. Decent people must (a) inform everyone they can (the mendacious Mainstream journalist, editor, proprietor, politician, academic and commentariat presstitutes certainly won’t), and (b) urge and apply Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against people, politicians, parties, companies, corporations, and countries disproportionately  involved in climate criminality. There is no Planet B.


[1]. “Natural gas in the United States”, Wikipedia: .

[2]. “Natural gas in Canada”, Wikipedia: .

[3]. Angela Macdonald-Smith, “Australia beats Qatar to become world’s No.1 LNG exporter”,  Australian Financial Review, 6 January 2020: .

[4]. Duncan MacKinnon, “Gas in Australia: where is it now and where is it going?”, Australian Energy Council, 31 October 2019: .

[5]. Michael Slezak, “What Australia’s gas-led recovery will mean for the country’s carbon emissions” , ABC News, 24 September 2020: .

[6]. United Nations Environment  Program (UNEP) “The Production Gap” Report (2019): .

[7].  Stephen Hawking, “Brief Answers to the Big Questions”, John Murray, 2018, Chapter 7.

[8]. Mike Foley, “Australia must hit net zero by 2050 to meet Paris: scientist”, Sydney Morning Herald, 24 February 2020: .

[9]. James Murray, “Which countries have legally binding net-zero emissions targets?”, NS Energy, 5 November 2020: .

[10]. The Australian Greens, “Climate change and energy”:

[11]. Joe Biden, “The Biden plan for a clean energy revolution and environmental justice”, Joe Biden: .

[12]. . Gideon Polya, “As UK Lackeys Or US Lackeys Australians Have Invaded 85 Countries (British 193, French 80, US 70)”, Countercurrents, 9 February, 2015: .

[13]. Gideon Polya, “Review: “The Cambridge History Of Australia” Ignores  Australian Involvement In 30 Genocides”,  Countercurrents, 14 October, 2013: .

[14]. Gideon Polya, “Rampant Orwellian Falsehood In Neoliberal Australia – And In Your Country Too?”, Countercurrents, 1 March 2020: .

[15]. Gideon Polya, “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950”, including an avoidable mortality-related history of every country from Neolithic times and is now available for free perusal on the web : .

[16]. Gideon Polya,Methane Leakage Makes Australia a World Leading Per Capita Greenhouse Gas Polluter”, Global Research, 19 February 2020: .

[17]. Gideon Polya,Scores Of Huge Realities Resolutely Ignored By Mendacious, US Lackey Mainstream Australia”, Countercurrents, 11 August 2020: .

[18]. “Paris Agreement”, Wikipedia: .

[19]. IPCC, “Global warming of 1.5 °C. Summary for Policymakers”, 8 October 2018: .

[20]. Gideon Polya, “IPCC +1.5C avoidance report – effectively too late but stop coal burning for “less bad” catastrophes”, Countercurrents, 12 October 2018: .

[21]. Andrew Glikson, “Inferno: from climate denial to planetary arson”, ”, Countercurrents, 8 September 2019: .

[22].  “UN emissions report: World on course for more than 3 degree spike, even if climate commitments are met”, UN News,  26 November 2019: .

[23]. Gideon Polya, “Wrong way go back – global sectoral greenhouse gas emissions are all in the wrong direction”, Countercurrents, 20 March 2020: .

[24]. US NOAA, “Trends in atmospheric methane”: .

[25]. International Energy Agency (IEA): “Gas”, 2019: .

[26].”Resources – coal”: .

[27].  Robert W. Howarth,  “Ideas and perspectives: is shale gas a major driver of recent increase in global atmospheric methane?” Biogeosciences, 16(15):3033-3046,   August 2019: .

[28].  Drew T. Shindell , Greg Faluvegi, Dorothy M. Koch , Gavin A. Schmidt ,   Nadine Unger and Susanne E. Bauer , “Improved Attribution of Climate Forcing to Emissions”, Science, 30 October 2009:
Vol. 326 no. 5953 pp. 716-718: .

[29]. Australia, “Gas push bad for climate and communities”, media release, 20 May 2020: .

[30]. Australian Climate Council “Gas dangerous, expensive and unnecessary”, 4 February 2020: .

[31]. Robert Goodland and Jeff Angfang, “Livestock and climate change. What if the key actors in climate change are… cows, pigs and chickens?” World Watch, November/December, 2009: .

[32]. (Benjamin Hmiel et al., “Preindustrial 14CH4 indicates greater anthropogenic fossil CH4 emissions”, Nature, 578, pages 409–412, 2020: ).

[33]. “Methane emissions underestimated”, Scimex, 20 February 2020: .

[34]. Bruce Robertson, quoted in Renew , “The gas industry is lying about their emissions”, 5 March 2020: .

[35].  Bruce Robertson, “Is the gas industry facing its Volkswagen moment/”, Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA)), March 2020: .

[36]. Union of Concerned Scientists, “Environmental impacts of natural gas”, 19 June 2014: .

[37]. Australian Greens, “Gas is not the answer. Gas is a fossil fuel and a major cause of the climate crisis”, 2020: .

[38]. Lisa Visentin, “Green leader Adam Bandt says coal and gas must be phased out by 2030”, Sydney Morning Herald, 27 September 2020: .

[39]. Rob Harris, “’Short-sighted’: Mark Butler says no room for gas in Australia’s future prosperity’, Sydney Morning Herald, 23 September 2020: .

[40]. Dr John Hewson quoted in Eloulse Fowler, “Hewson takes aim at Morrison’s “gas-led” recovery”, Financial Review, 9 September 2020: .

[41]. Kevin Rudd quoted in Adam Morton, ““New jobs, new industries, new wealth”: Kevin Rudd’s vision for a green recovery out of the pandemic”, Guardian, 20 October 2020: .

[42]. Malcolm Turnbull quoted in Stephanie Dalzell and Matthew Doran, “Malcolm Turnbull says Government’s energy are “crazy” and “a fantasy””, ABC News, 22 September 2020: .

[43].  Anthony Albanese interviewed by the ABC, “Anthony Albanese”, 30 January 2020: .

[44]. Terri Butler in interview with David Speers, “Shadow Environment Minister Terri Butler”, ABC TV “Insiders”, 1 November 2020: .

[45]. Matthew Canavan quoted in Julia Holman, “Resources Minister Matt Canavan says states need to “pull their finger out” on gas exploration”, ABC News, 15 March 2017: .

[46]. Alan Finkel, “National Press Club Address: The orderly transition to the electric planet”, Australia’s Chief Scientist, 12 February 2020: .

[47]. Michael Mazengarb, “Has Joel Fitzgibbon locked Labor into a ‘go slow’ switch to renewable energy?”, Renew Economy, 30 October 2020: .

[48]. Michael Gunner quoted in “Creating local jobs – NT gas strategy revealed”, Northern Territory Government News Room, September 2018: .

[49]. Andrew Liveris quoted in Jane Bardon, “NT business groups warn Gunner Government against chasing ‘fanciful’ economic recovery projects”, ABC News, 6 September 2020: .

[50]. Scott Morrison quoted in Nick O’Malley, “An old flame: Scott Morrison pushes his plans for gas”, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 September 2020: .

[51]. David Speers interviewing Greens leader Adam Bandt, MHR, “Greens leader Adam Bandt,”, ABC TV Insiders, 27 September 2020: .

[52]. “Fact checking Angus Taylor: does Australia have a climate change record to be proud of?”, Guardian, 31 December 2019: .

[53]. “Justin Trudeau Canada COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript March 28”, Rev, 28 March 2020: .

[54]. Joe Biden, “Joe Biden CNN Town Hall: “Fracking has to continue” Transcript, Rev, September 17”, Rev, 17 September 2020: .

[55]. “President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address”, The White House, 28 January 2014: .

[56]. Mike Pence, “Mike Pence Campaign Speech Transcript Reading, Pennsylvania October 17”, Rev, 17 October 2020: .

[57]. Donald Trump, “Donald Trump Rally Speech Transcript Butler, PA October 31”, Rev, 31 October 2020: .

[58]. “Boycott Murdoch Media”: .

[59]. Gideon Polya, “Piketty analysis of Trumpism – inequality & populist nativists versus high education globalists”, Countercurrents, 30 October 2019: .

[60]. Thomas Piketty, ”Brahmin Left versus the Merchant Right: rising inequality & the changing  structure of political conflict  (evidence from France, Britain and the US, 1948-2017)”, Working Paper Series No. 2018/ 7: .

[61]. Gideon Polya, “Neoliberalism, neofascism & Trumpism – racist alliance of mob & capital”, Countercurrents, 4 August 2019: .

[62]. Hannah Arendt, “The Origins of Totalitarianism”, Shocken, New York, 1951.

[63]. Hannah Arendt, “The Origins of Totalitarianism”, Part 2, subsection III, The Alliance Between Mob and Capital”, pages 123-155.

Dr Gideon Polya taught science students at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia over 4 decades. He published some 130 works in a 5 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text “Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds” (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London , 2003). He has published “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: ); see also his contributions “Australian complicity in Iraq mass mortality” in “Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics” (edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007:   ) and “Ongoing Palestinian Genocide” in “The Plight of the Palestinians (edited by William Cook, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2010: ). He has published a revised and updated 2008 version of his 1998 book “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History” (see:  ) as biofuel-, globalization- and climate-driven global food price increases threaten a greater famine catastrophe than the man-made famine in British-ruled India that killed 6-7 million Indians in the “forgotten” World War 2 Bengal Famine (see recent BBC broadcast involving Dr Polya, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen and others:  ;  Gideon Polya:  ; Gideon Polya Writing: ; Gideon Polya, Wikipedia: ). He has recently published Gideon Polya, “US-imposed Post-9-11 Muslim Holocaust & Muslim Genocide”, Korsgaard Publishing, Germany, 2020 (for details see: ).When words fail one can say it in pictures – for images of Gideon Polya’s huge paintings for the Planet, Peace, Mother and Child see: and  .



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