By Bella Burgemeister
Author: Bella Burgemeister is a 15-year-old Australian author, environmental presenter and climate activist
**This is the English version of Bella’s story, printed as an article in German newspaper Taz**
“What do executives at Germany’s Uniper and RWE have to do with the magnificent coral reefs, humpback whales and Aboriginal rock art near my Australian home? A lot actually. These companies have signed up to a new offshore gas project that is set to be one of Australia’s biggest carbon bombs.
The Scarborough project is a proposed gas field off the Western Australian coast that will release 1.69 billion tonnes of CO2 over its operation – that’s twice the size of Germany’s annual emissions.
Scarborough is the first step of an even bigger plan to increase production at the Burrup Hub – a monster project that would release six billion tonnes of CO2 – far larger than emissions released every year by the entire European Union.
The vast majority of Australia’s young people want climate action. I was one of the teenagers who recently took the Australian Government to court to oppose a coal mine expansion. But we need help and it is hard in a country like Australia which is addicted to fossil fuels – a country where export dollars and political donations speak louder than anything.
We know that these projects won’t proceed if there is no buyer. And two of the biggest buyers are German utilities and commodity traders Uniper and RWE. Unbelievably, Uniper and the main companies behind the project, Woodside and BHP, say that the deal is part of their commitment to “innovatively deliver a lower-carbon future”.
But these projects are actually destroying my future. The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently found that any new gas or oil projects are incompatible with reaching net zero. Gas is mainly methane, which is roughly 90 times more damaging than carbon dioxide over 20 years.
If the project goes ahead it would cause irreparable harm to not only the climate but also to the ocean. They must know that their greed would destroy our beautiful biodiversity and this can never be undone. Once one ecosystem collapses there is a domino effect.
The offshore field developments and connecting pipeline would cause significant damage to the marine environment, including protected marine parks with hundreds of species of coral reefs, sponge gardens and fish. Seismic testing, drilling and offshore gas processing operations would affect nursing whales, turtles and dugongs.
The area is also home to the world’s largest and oldest art gallery. The million or so rock carvings of Murujaga are more than 47,000 years old and record extinct animals plus one of the first representations of a human face.
The existing gas projects in the area are generating acids that are already slowly eroding the outer surface of the carvings. If the project goes ahead, we could lose that priceless heritage forever.
The planet cannot afford for new fossil fuel projects to go ahead. Australia is one of the few wealthy countries not committed to a net zero target and is failing to do its share to meet the Paris Agreement to limit global warming. Here in Western Australia, we have had record droughts, floods and fires. I will experience longer lasting and more intense droughts, with even higher risks of deadly bushfires.
Germany, for the sake of our oceans, our animals, priceless Aboriginal heritage and of course the planet, please don’t buy Australian gas. If companies like Uniper are serious about a clean energy future, they must cancel their contracts and have nothing to do with this planet-killing project.”
If you want to join the movement against Scarborough gas, and help us take on one of Scarborough’s WA buyers, sign up to volunteer here!