To lead the global gas market… or not.

With the new Australian government, political will on the matter of climate change is on a more certain hiatus than the temperature anomaly. However, more concerning than this, Australia is contribution greatly to the global liquid natural gas (LNG) market. As ABC quotes, the Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane, is hopeful that Australia could become the world’s largest exporter of LNG within the decade.

By 2018, it’s expected that Australia would have the capacity to export more than 85 million tonnes of LNG per year.

The vast majority of natural gas is methane, a potent greenhouse gas itself, yet if all of this is successfully burnt, it would translate to more than 230 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. So, burnt or unburnt, this export potential does not represent an ethically responsible choice. Just because it’s cleaner than coal, doesn’t mean it’s clean.

The other side to this argument, some might say, is the question of where the guilt should lay; are we responsible for production or the consumer due to the demand? Consumers, by their sheer position, want everything whether they know it or not. Suppliers have the power to provide it or not. Each tonne left in the ground is carbon that cannot be released into the atmosphere, regardless of what else happens. The best carbon storage is the cheap kind; the initial kind, where we haven’t gone to the effort of digging it up and refining it (with various subsidies to make it viable) and then recaptured and stored again back in the ground.

No, this isn’t a good prospect, whether it’s true or not.

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