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You might be helping to fund the ‘most damaging’ gas project

·3-min read
A Woodside-owned gas storage facility in WA and Australian money.
BHP and Woodside are rushing to get a new fossil fuel project off the ground despite massive climate concerns. (Source: Getty)

A proposed new LNG project in Scarborough, Western Australia, is set to be the most polluting fossil-fuel project in the nation.

In fact, it would result in annual carbon pollution equal to more than 15 new coal-fired power stations, and more pollution than the proposed Adani coal mine.

The direct pollution from this project would increase WA’s total emissions by almost 5 per cent or 4.4 million tonnes per year.

Yet, despite the increased focus on climate change, and international pressure to scale back our emissions, this project has been given the green light by the Commonwealth and WA Environmental Protection Agency.

So, why should you care? Well, some of your money may be helping fund the project.

Here’s what is going down.

Who is responsible?

BHP and Woodside are joining forces in a $41 billion merger, alongside Global Infrastructure Partners, for the potentially damaging project.

But, that’s not all. According to Market Forces asset-management campaigner Will van de Pol, every big Australian bank and super fund has helped these entities fund projects deemed potentially devastating for the environment.

“All of Australia’s big four banks have loaned to Woodside, BHP, or infrastructure associated with their polluting gas plans, while almost every super fund in the country invests members’ money in these climate-wrecking companies,” van de Pol said.

“Australia’s super fund members and bank customers will not stand for our money being used to fund climate destruction. Financial institutions supporting Woodside and BHP’s dirty Scarborough gas plans will be held to account.”

Why is the project so damaging?

The Scarborough-Pluto project would be an offshore drilling site off the coast of Western Australia.

Beyond emitting vast amounts of carbon pollution, the Scarborough development involves blasting and dredging kilometres of seabed, driving giant concrete piles into the ocean floor and dumping millions of tonnes of crushed coral and rock within the Dampier Archipelago.

The archipelago is one of the richest areas of marine biodiversity in Western Australia - home to thousands of species of whales, sharks, fish, turtles and corals.

“Right now the world needs to get serious about limiting fossil fuel projects like Scarborough, not helping Woodside executives get rich off them,” campaigner Anthony Collins said.

“The International Energy Agency has been clear, the world can’t afford any new gas projects if it’s going to limit catastrophic damage to the climate.”

Why is Woodside fast-tracking the project?

Besides the potentially devastating climate effects of a project like this, Woodside is also trying to rush the project through, before fossil fuels are phased out.

Greenpeace Australia accused Woodside of being desperate for trying to fast-track final investments before securing all necessary approvals for the project.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific CEO David Ritter said the move reeked of desperation.

“The International Energy Agency, one of the world’s most conservative energy bodies, has said that there should be no new coal or gas projects, and yet here is Woodside, like a bunch of vandals in the night, trying to rush this monstrous project through,” Ritter said.

“Woodside is treating Australians, and in particular the people of Western Australia, with contempt.”

Van de Pol said the company was in a poor position to be rushing the project through.

“The project’s regulatory approvals are in a mess, and it is already facing multiple legal challenges,” he said.

“Meanwhile, Woodside has been forced to take on an immense amount of risk to convince partners to get on board.”

As public pressure to ditch the project continues to build, Woodside has remained steadfast in trying to get the project through.

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