(G)reenw(AS)hed: The dark deception of “natural” gas

By now we’re all up to speed on Australia’s post-COVID “Gas Led Economic Recovery”, so much so that I’m a bit worried the Trumpian phraseology our parliament is becoming so renowned for has numbed us somewhat to the sheer audacity of this plan. What do you reckon? Have you thought much about it?

In the wake of a pandemic that’s devastated Australia – and indeed, the world – not just economically, but socially, culturally and emotionally, we’re now being patronised that the solution is spending all of our money on more fossil fuels.

…MORE FOSSIL FUELS. (Sorry for the aggressive caps-lock. But also…. #@^*%!!!!)

Let’s quickly revisit a really basic feature of climate criminology: greenwashing.

As I’m sure you’re familiar, ‘greenwashing’ is the term given when brands and businesses intentionally mislead consumer decision-making, by knowingly suggesting something is environmentally sound, when it isn’t. The most obvious examples are on the packaging of off-the-shelf products, things like “ecodetergents”, with sleek labels and green bottles, loaded with toxic chemicals.

But there’s a much more nefarious, much more sinister version of greenwashing that goes on beyond simple store purchases. A deep and dark twist of the very same principle of intentional disinformation.

Like “natural” gas.

Think about it.

Somehow “natural gas” has slipped through the fracks (see what I did there) as a widely accepted reference to the entirely unnatural practice of fracturing the Earth. Literally puncturing it’s surface with what are essentially enormous and dirty hydraulic syringes, to extract gas, to then set on fire, to make electricity, thousands of times over. In one of the sunniest countries in the world, and in the age of the solar panel no less.

It’s literally no different to saying “natural” coal – and, as it goes, you might remember Tony Abbott and Josh Frydenberg trying reeeeeeeeeally hard to introduce “clean coal” as a phrase that would dilute outrage about foreign mining on Australian soil – as a blatant and arrogant attempt to soften the insult of ongoing and extensive investment in fossil fuels in 2020.

Publicly funded investment, I might add. Money from you and me.

But then again, it’s all terribly on-brand I suppose. Right? Because ask yourself what’s actually “liberal” about anything the Liberal Party cabinet is doing for Australia. I’m not saying this as someone fiercely pro-Labor, or even fiercely pro-Green, but how is it that the most conservative, right-wing bunch of old white men are getting away with calling themselves the “Liberal” party?

This is full tilt matrix greenwashing, way past calling something a biotoothbrush because it has 0.001% charcoal somewhere amidst the plastic.

“Natural” gas, to power Australia’s “liberal” future. Think about just how calculated and entrenched the deception is.

Here’s a couple of other things our most liberal mates in Canberra are doing at the same time. Whilst recommissioning ARENA and the CEFC – two government-owned agencies tasked with
achieving our renewable future – to invest in pollution-emitting industries, Angus Taylor, our “honourable” minister for energy, has been loudly talking up a carbon capture project that literally hasn’t been happening, and threatening (!) the energy industry with a new and excessive gas-fired power plant in the Hunter Valley to replace the ancient Liddell coal-fired power plant, which is shutting down because it already has cleaner replacements lined up.

All with your money.

So. Australia’s greenwashed and gas-led COVID economic recovery plan. Are you cool with it?

Catch more from Roland Davies a.k.a. Lucky Roland on his Podcast “Self-Torque” here.

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Roland Davies

Roland Davies (a.k.a. "Lucky Roland") is the voice and author behind the Lucky Roland blog and podcast, a curation of eco stories and inspiration that digests the ABC's Environment News in a listenable way to encourage us humans to green up our lives. Roland is also the founder of Emu Parade, a beach clean movement that's working to remove tonnes of rubbish from Australia's most remote beach systems.

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