As we head towards another winter in the heaviest domestic gas using state in the country, the Australian Energy Market Operator’s latest Gas Statement of Opportunities release paints a picture of looming gas shortfalls on the east coast market. They claim that we need to increase supply of the climate polluting fossil fuel at a time when renewable energy stands ready to supply our energy needs.
More than 70% of gas in Australia is shipped overseas – and the bulk of the profits with them. Gas companies like Santos made the mistake of chasing exports over delivering domestic supply, leading to Australians becoming second class citizens in their own energy economy. Tied to export market prices, gas customers have already suffered more than doubling gas prices with a forecast 30% increase to come.
Freja Leonard, No More Gas campaigner for Friends of the Earth today described the need to increase supply to shore up domestic gas demand as shadow play. “Gas companies soak up billions of public dollars, pay little to no tax and walk offshore with around 95% of their profits. Meanwhile ordinary Australians struggle with rising cost of living including energy prices.
“The answer is simple – prioritise domestic supply over export and urgently help people reduce demand by switching to renewable electricity”, said Ms Leonard.
“Far from being the “natural” clean fuel the industry wants us to think it is, gas is 84 times more polluting to the climate in the short term than carbon dioxide, it’s terrible for human health when we burn it in our homes and it’s less affordable with each new bill cycle”, said Ms Leonard.
“Between the second half of 2021 and the first half of 2022 nonpayment gas disconnections for households across Victoria jumped from 840 to 5191. We can’t afford gas – and neither can our own governments’ emissions reduction commitments,” Ms Leonard said.
AEMO has identified failures of government support to help homes to switch off gas in favour of clean energy. “In earlier reports the market operator anticipated a faster rate of households shifting from gas to renewables. Unfortunately this relied on governments stepping up to help homes improve their efficiency and change over appliances rather than continuing to give the gas industry billions of public dollars to prop up their already huge profits. This is a crisis of state and federal government making.”, said Ms Leonard.
“We urgently need governments to develop a plan with practical steps to cut demand and set an end date for gas use in homes and commercial buildings altogether. Any actual shortfalls experienced from now is essentially government failure writ large across the climate and economic landscape of Australia.”