Menu Close

Australia conservationists challenge ‘most polluting fossil fuel project ever to be proposed’ in country

Aidan Hookey | Australian National U. College of Law, AU December 22, 2020 12:12:41 pm

The Conservation Council of Western Australia (CCWA) Monday launched a legal challenge against the Western Australia State Government’s approval of the new Burrup Hub petroleum gas development.

The environmental group is challenging Woodside Petroleum’s expansion because it was not given proper environmental assessment prior to approval. In a press release, the group describes the development as the “most polluting fossil fuel project ever to be proposed in Australia,” which “undermines global efforts [to mitigate climate change] under the Paris Agreement.”

Lawyers for the CCWA allege that the project’s approval last year contravened Western Australia’s Environmental Protection Act (EPA). Woodside originally gained approval to source gas from two particular sites on the remote Burrup Peninsular in north-western Australia; however, it later allegedly amended its plans to gain access to two additional gas fields.

The EPA requires that changes to approved projects which entail a “significant detrimental effect on the environment” be subject to full environmental assessment. However, the subsequent alteration was considered a minor change by Woodside and the West Australian government, and a separate environmental assessment was therefore not undertaken. The CCWA claims that this was a major change and should have been subject to full environmental appraisal.

According to a report by Climate Analytics commissioned by the CCWA, the project would add more than six billion tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere between 2020 and 2070. The report concluded that this would significantly hamper Australia’s efforts to meet its Paris Climate Agreement targets. “Aside from its incredibly high carbon pollution, Woodside’s Burrup Hub projects risk significant impacts to the marine environment, and permanent damage to Aboriginal cultural heritage,” the CCWA added.

In a media release, Woodside’s CEO Peter Coleman stated that the company intends to “vigorously defend” its position. “In reality, the use of gas instead of other fossil fuel reduces carbon emissions,” he said. He also suggested that the“CCWA is resorting to a legal challenge a year and a half after the approvals were granted. Their action will cost taxpayers money and flies in the of the Environmental Protection Authority’s independent assessment.”

Woodside cited a consultant’s report, which suggested that between 345mt and 620mt of carbon dioxide emissions could be “avoided” through the use of gas as opposed to other fossil fuels. The company also stated its “aspiration to reach net zero in its direct emissions by 2050 or sooner,” despite this target excluding the emissions from gas sold in its operations.

The legal battle comes a month after a parliamentary report labeled Rio Tinto’s destruction of a significant Indigenous sacred site in the same region of Australia as “inexcusable.” The Burrup Peninsular is world-renowned for its Aboriginal cultural heritage value, especially its 50,000-year-old rock art, which is currently under consideration for UNESCO world heritage protection.

Woodside’s final decision on whether to invest in the Burrup Hub gas project is due to be made in late 2021.

Article: https://www.jurist.org/news/2020/12/australia-conservationists-challenge-most-polluting-fossil-fuel-project-ever-to-be-proposed-in-country/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

(UN General Assembly, 1948) The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: 1. All human beings are free and equal 2. No discrimination 3. Right to life 4. No slavery 5. No torture and inhuman treatment 6. Same right to use law 7. Equal before the law 8. Right to be treated fair by court 9. No unfair detainment 10. Right to trial 11. Innocent until proved guilty 12. Right to privacy 13. Freedom to movement and residence 14. Right to asylum 15. Right to nationality 16. Rights to marry and have family 17. Right to own things 18. Freedom of thought and religion 19. Freedom of opinion and expression 20. Right to assemble 21. Right to democracy 22. Right to social security 23. Right to work 24. Right to rest and holiday 25. Right of social service 26. Right to education 27. Right of cultural and art 28. Freedom around the world 29. Subject to law 30. Human rights can’t be taken away