Over 50 scientists and experts, including former Australian of the Year Professor Fiona Stanley AC; Carmen Lawrence former Premier of WA; Professor Peter newman AO, WA’s 2018 Scientist of the Year; and Ian Dunlop, former Chairman of the Australian Coal Association and Shell executive, have all urged the Western Australian Government to permanently ban fracking activities in the state.
The call comes in an open letter ahead of the release of the final report by the Western Australia Independent Scientific Panel Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracture Stimulation.
The opening line of the letter states that ‘unconventional oil and gas development in Western Australia should not go ahead under any circumstances’, then following on to state that the consequences of global warming are already extremely serious; including loss of human life, extreme weather, destruction of natural ecosystems and property damage, with exploiting Western Australia’s unconventional gas resources deemed, in their view, ‘grossly irresponsible given urgency of the climate situation’.
Australia’s leading climate scientists Professor Graeme Pearman, Professor Andy Pitman, Professor John Church, Professor Will Steffen, Professor Katrin Missner and Professor Steven Sherwood are all in favour of the ban. Further to this, the collective group of experts have offered to brief the Western Australian Government’s Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing which consists of five scientists, none of whom are climate scientists.
“Western Australia is already facing severe drying in its most productive and populated areas due to global warming, increasing fire seasons and heatwaves,” says Professor Graeme Pearman, leading climate scientist and former head of the CSIRO Atmospheric Research team.
“Within our children’s lifetime, we are facing potential temperature rises of up to 6.5 degrees, with largely irreversible impacts on water supply, coastal flooding, crop and grazing production, human health and biodiversity,” he said.
Dr Bill Hare, founder and CEO of Climate Analytics also spoke in favour of the ban.
“Exploiting Western Australia’s unconventional gas resources would pose a threat to the world achieving the Paris Agreement goals and make it impossible for Australia to meet its emission reduction target,” he said, “the science also shows that none of this fracking – neither in the Canning Basin or anywhere else – is needed.”
Their view is based on the ‘scientifically robust carbon budget framework’. The letter states that most existing fossil fuel reserves must remain unburned, with any new fossil fuel development deemed to be incompatible with the goal of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
The full open letter can be found here.