It’s good to see the gas industry start to explain its role in a decarbonising world. Because, to date, its communication on this topic has been woeful.
I accept the International Energy Association (IEA) view that gas can help us get out of coal, has a broader role to play in our transition to renewables and may have a role in 2050, even in a net zero world.
However, the IEA also says that, while there is increasing demand for non-Russian gas at present, this growth is likely to be temporary, because the Ukraine war is also accelerating the uptake of renewables and electric vehicles. The IEA projects global gas demand to plateau by the end of the decade.
Going forward, the gas industry should expect increased scrutiny about the need for new developments and exploration. As well as what it is doing about the emissions of its operations and customers.
Industry communication that focuses simply on energy security and jobs during transition could leave the industry stranded, as new technologies arrive to deliver the same, perhaps more quickly than expected. The traditional practice of focusing on the volume of jobs created has potentially been counter-productive, as the community feels it is being asked to accept a trade-off.
According to environmental non-profit Global Witness, 636 oil and gas lobbyists attended COP27, 100 more than last year’s meeting.
With the effects of climate change becoming increasingly apparent, and the risks around greenwash growing, the industry’s increased effort in engagement and communication will need to be permanent, open and honest.
This column also appeared in The West Australian newspaper.