ACF - Australian Conservation Foundation

11/28/2023 | News release | Distributed by Public on 11/27/2023 19:39

How Woodside and Santos are fuelling extreme heat and bushfires this summer

The Australian Conservation Foundation is naming and holding to account Australian-owned companies Woodside and Santos for their role in fuelling this summer's extreme weather.

2023 is set to be the warmest year on record. Heatwaves have hit the Northern Hemisphere, mega fires have blazed across Canada, Greece, Hawaii and now, Argentina.

This summer could be Australia's hottest ever. Here at home, before summer officially started, firestorms devastated wildlife and communities in Queensland and Western Australia, weeks ahead of a typical bushfire season. Drought has forced farmers to release livestock. New Australian research shows heat-related deaths are on the rise.

Climate change, driven by extracting, processing and burning fossil fuels like coal and gas, is making extreme bushfires, extreme drought and extreme heat more severe, more widespread and more frequent.

Woodside and Santos are the two biggest Australian-owned climate polluters and they are determined to pump out even more pollution. While Australia heats up this summer, Woodside and Santos are pushing ahead to build massive new gas expansions that will wreak more havoc on our climate.

Australian communities, our unique wildlife and the places we love are under threat like never before - and Woodside and Santos are throwing fuel on the fire to chase profits.

This summer, as our towns and cities get hotter, our regions get dryer and fires burn, our leaders must act. We're calling on our governments, which give climate polluters $11.1 billion in handouts annually, to step up and step in to stop Woodside and Santos from wrecking our climate. The Australian government must:

  • end coal and gas for good
  • ramp up renewables,
  • and protect and restore nature.

Let's safeguard our communities and wildlife, now, and for generations to come.

Why we're singling out Woodside and Santos

First, Woodside and Santos are the two biggest Australian-owned climate polluters. They are the Australian-owned companies most responsible for climate-fuelled fires, floods, droughts and heat. While they pollute our climate, they're enjoying windfall profits and paying little tax.

Second, when we desperately need to slash our climate pollution, both Woodside and Santos are seeking to aggressively expand their operations with many new or expanded gas extraction projects. Two of the most polluting projects are:

Woodside's proposed Scarborough Gas project off the coast of WA could unleash the climate pollution of six coal-fired power stations every year.

Santos's proposed Barossa offshore gas project north of Darwin would emit millions of tonnes of carbon pollution every year.

This would create new climate pollution, displace renewables and lock our region into climate-wrecking gas use for decades to come.

Why burning gas is bad for our climate

Gas, like coal, is a fossil fuel and when it is burnt it pollutes our climate.

Gas releases a greenhouse gas called methane, which is especially dangerous. Methane stays in the atmosphere for a much shorter time than carbon dioxide, but is more potent. Over a 2-year period, it is up to 86 times as potent as carbon dioxide. It's for this reason that the UN says slashing methane is the quickest way to mitigate rising temperatures.

For a safe climate and a prosperous, secure future, we need to transition from coal and gas to reliable, firmed renewable energy, fast. And the good news is that renewables already produce about four times the amount of Australia's electricity that gas does while slashing pollution and power bills. We just need to build more renewable projects in a way that's good for nature so we can close existing coal and gas plants, and stop new coal and gas.

How climate change fuels extreme heat, bushfires and drought

Using fossil fuels like coal and gas is the biggest driver of climate change, which is creating the conditions for extreme weather events to become more severe, widespread and frequent.

The reason we are seeing more extreme bushfires in Australia is because climate change is creating 'tinderbox-like' conditions, including:

  • Hotter temperatures, putting more areas at risk of fire
  • Drier vegetation, which is 'fuel' for fires to burn
  • A longer fire season, which makes fires more unpredictable, harder to prepare for and more damaging
  • More lightning, which can start fires

Australia's climate pollution has global impacts

Australia is one of the world's biggest coal and gas exporters.

Most of the gas that Woodside and Santos frack and dig up in Australia is exported overseas.

When the gas is eventually burnt up into the atmosphere in another country, it damages our climate and we feel the impacts here in Australia.

No matter where coal and gas are burnt, they damage our climate, fueling mega-fires and floods at home and destroying the places we love like the Great Barrier Reef.

This export pollution does not go against Australia's ledger, but it's still ending up in the atmosphere and makes up a massive portion of the world's total climate pollution. Bold investment from the Australian Government to grow our renewable export industry can create a pathway to phase out coal and gas exports and slash global climate pollution in a big, big way.

Australia has the sun, wind and know-how to make a range of renewable exports, including:

  • Renewable hydrogen that can replace fossil fuels in the production of metals, including steel and aluminium. The products are called green metals.
  • Critical minerals for making batteries, and solar and wind components. Unlike, fossil fuels, these minerals can be recycled so you only have to mine them once.
  • Battery manufacturing, to power clean transport and renewable grids.

How we can stop Woodside and Santos from wrecking our climate

The Australian government needs to upgrade our economy and energy from fossil fuels to renewables. This will stop polluters, slash pollution and create a safe climate for people, our incredible animals and plants, and the natural places we love.

But pushing our government to action relies on people calling for it. Lots of people, uniting, speaking up, over a long period. It doesn't happen overnight, it's not always easy and there are always setbacks, but it starts with each of us.

Act today, sign the petition and call on the Australian government to end coal and gas in Australia.

It can also be a lot of fun! Find your closest ACF Community group and band together with other people who care to push for change on-the-ground, in our communities.

Australian Conservation Foundation