The Australian government, led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, has received criticism from economists and environmentalists alike for their plans of a ‘gas-led recovery’ out of the coronavirus economic downturn. In a move away from the renewable resources and reduced energy emissions committed to in the 2016 Paris Agreement, the Australian government is turning to domestically produced gas as a its champion – despite fierce opposition and criticism that the plan is unrealisable.
It has been Australia’s plan to reduce its carbon emissions 26-28% by 2030, taking the country’s overall output to below 2005 levels. Climate activists however have declared as far back as 2018 that the country is not on track to reach such targets, and instead has seen greenhouse gas pollution levels steadily on the increase for the last four years. What is more, the organisation Climate Action Tracker notes that whilst although one of the impacts of COVID-19 has been lower activity levels from the population, seeing a corresponding decrease in greenhouse gas emissions (GHS), Australia has demonstrated no intention of updating its Paris climate agreement or committing to a net-zero emissions target.
In an address to the nation on 15th September 2020, The Australian government laid out its plans to develop a national gas infrastructure that would support the country into the future. Following consultations with the gas industry in order to develop opportunities and bring down barriers bu identifying current gaps. It committed $28.2 million AUD in government funding to develop five strategic basin plans across the country.
Elsewhere critics have accused the government’s plan likely to help less than 1% of manufacturing workers, despite claims by PM Morrison otherwise, and insufficient in its reckoning on how to lead the country out of an economic crisis. In his speech, the PM Morrison declared the gas expansion to be of particular benefit for Australia’s manufacturing industry, and the 850,000 Australians employed within it.