Greens warn of climate change implications of the shale gas industry
22 February 2013
A preliminary assessment of likely greenhouse gas emissions if a shale gas industry expands in WA is grounds alone to oppose the industry outright, the WA Greens say.
“Even if just a fifth if WA’s estimated shale and tight gas resource is developed, the life cycle of the greenhouse gas emissions would be enormous – equivalent to nine times Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions currently,” Greens MLC Alison Xamon said.
“That’s a mind-boggling amount, especially in the context that as a nation we are committed to greenhouse gas reduction targets by 2020 and beyond.
“The problem is two-fold. Shale gas, in other words, methane, is a highly potent greenhouse gas, equivalent to 25 times worse than carbon dioxide in terms of contribution to the Greenhouse Effect over a 100-year timeframe.
“Secondly, the technique used to extract shale and tight gas, known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking, has a high leakage rate, in other words high fugitive emissions of that methane.
“Combine these emissions with those caused by the combustion of the recovered gas to generate electricity, and you are, conservatively, looking at five billion tonnes per annum of greenhouse gases if just 20 per cent of Western Australia’s estimated 300 trillion cubic feet of shale and tight gas is recovered and used.
“Clearly, there is a certain amount of finessing one could do with these figures, including counting the additional missions caused in the relatively energy-intensive process of fracking compared to conventional gas extraction, but the fact is that is the figures are already so high that the question of whether it would be environmentally responsible to develop the shale and tight gas resource is already answered.
“I think the world has moved on from the myth that any gas is ‘clean’ – unconventional gas is simply a more dirty form of fossil fuel than conventional gas.
“The Greens have launched a comprehensive plan for powering all of WA’s stationary energy sector with renewable energy by 2029, available at http://greenswa.net.au/sites/default/files/pdfs/GREENS_EnergyReport_Web.pdf.”
For a copy of the research go to
Hon Alison Xamon MLC
Member for the East Metropolitan Region
Office: 62 Eighth Ave Maylands WA 6051
Postal Address: PO Box 104 Maylands WA 6931
Phone: (08) 9272 1718
Fax: (08) 9272 1719
Portfolios: Water, Urban Bushland, Mental Health, Education, Training, Industrial Relations, Employment, Occupational Health & Safety, Disabilities, Women, Children & Youth, Public Service, Community Services, Electoral Affairs, Consumer Protection, Vet Affairs, Volunteering