Information derived from Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) from the four multinational gas companies – Santos, Origin, British Gas and Arrow Energy – throws into doubt the claim that natural gas is ‘clean’ energy.

The emissions revealed by the EISs are so great that Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets are in serious jeopardy.

They will also make Queensland’s natural gas industry one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the country.

The GHG emissions from the Queensland natural gas export industry will amount to nearly 20% of the Federal Government’s 2050 target and about 10% of the 2020 target.

It will also increase current GHG emissions from the mining sector by a massive 67%.

Veteran environmental campaigner Drew Hutton said the EISs covered only those emissions caused by such activities as extracting and pumping the gas, compressing and liquefying the gas, land clearing and the building and operation of LNG plants at Gladstone – not the burning of the gas in power stations here or overseas.

These GHG emissions, therefore, will be part of Australia’s total emissions which form part of existing and future agreements regarding greenhouse gas emission reductions. These include the Rudd government’s targets for 2020 and 2050 and our commitment under the Kyoto Protocol.

Given this is an entirely new industry then that means Australia will have to find cuts in other areas to meet these targets. This will be very difficult given that the low-hanging fruit (i.e. land clearing controls) have already been picked.

It will also mean Australia will have greater difficulty meeting future international obligations to reduce GHG emissions as these reductions are usually based on either the year 1990 or 2000 levels.

“The Queensland Government is legally obliged to take into account all factors regarding sustainability before granting environmental approvals,” Mr Hutton said.

“How can the Queensland Government give even ‘conditional’ approval to the Santos project, let alone all the others, when this new industry will so massively expand our nation’s contribution to climate change?”