24 November 2022
It seems that there is a growing view that gas is part of decarbonising the world to save it from Climate Change. The term ‘Climate Change’ is itself a euphemism for ‘Global Warming’ as the latter is a bit more threatening, like we have ‘new prices’ rather than ‘price rises’.
Natural gas is largely methane, which is carbon and hydrogen and burns to carbon dioxide and water. But methane is itself also a greenhouse gas, far more potent than carbon dioxide in terms of its warming effects, and quite a lot of it escapes into the atmosphere unburnt, especially if it is released by fracking. One may remember Jeremy Buckingham’s videos of him lighting the gas coming out of the river in Grafton. Carbon Capture and Storage or CCS is a bad joke, with the fossil fuel industry getting grants to research this. My view it is merely a tactic to play for time, like the search for the ‘safe cigarette’. It allows them to keep doing what they are doing, as regulators hope for a technofix.
The fossil fuel industry was in Egypt and seems did quite well, getting agreements to cut down on coal, but not gas and oil. And Australia’s approval for more gas was not criticised here, presumably because Europe is in such a mess with no Russian gas that they had become dependent on.
The cost of extracting gas has not changed, but Australia’s gas companies can just charge the world’s prices and can pocket the extra margin, known in economics as ‘super normal profits’. It might be noted that silly Liz Truss in the UK was going to subsidise gas for the people, i.e. simply give the extra profits to the gas companies by creating a taxpayer debt; a Tory idea of ‘welfare’. In Australia we just let the money go from consumers to the companies with few royalties. Norway and Qatar benefit from their resources- we don’t.
It seems that the COP meeting in Egypt was overshadowed by the G20 and the ASEAN meetings, but it is also likely that Egypt was leaned on by its affluent neighbours, the Middle East fossil fuel producers.
Here is a summary- it is not encouraging. The much-praised Albanese government has not done enough!