The Australian Government has released its Future Gas Strategy, putting natural gas at the centre of its plans to reach net zero by 2050. Madeline King, Australia’s Minister for Resources, launched the document on 9 May, drawing criticism from some environmental groups. 

Although the strategy begins by noting that “Australia is committed to supporting global emissions reductions to reduce the impacts of climate change and will reach net zero emissions by 2050”, part of the strategy pushes Australia to obtain “new sources of gas supply” as they “are needed to meet demand during the economy wide transition” to net zero.  

King said: “Ensuring Australia continues to have adequate access to reasonably priced gas will be key to delivering an 82% renewable energy grid by 2030, and to achieve our commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050. 

“The strategy makes it clear that gas will remain an important source of energy through to 2050 and beyond, and its uses will change as we improve industrial energy efficiency, firm renewables and reduce emissions.

“But it is clear we will need continued exploration, investment and development in the sector to support the path to net zero for Australia and for our export partners, and to avoid a shortfall in gas supplies.” 

While one of the core principles of the strategy is that gas use should move towards lower-emission technologies including carbon capture and hydrogen usage, some feel that it does not go far enough to enable Australia to reach its net-zero goals in a timely manner. 

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Dr Jennifer Rayner of the Climate Council told The Guardian that the strategy was “a regressive echo of the past”, noting: “Today’s announcement is more Back to the Future than Future made in Australia. Australia is already using less gas, so the suggestion we need more of it sounds like Scott Morrison’s ‘gas led recovery’, not Anthony Albanese’s ‘renewable energy superpower’.”