The Australian Government has released a Future Gas Strategy consultation paper, which aims to establish a plan for gas production, consumption and substitution as the nation strives towards its goal of net zero emissions by 2050. 

The strategy will provide a medium-term (to 2035) and long-term (to 2050) plan for gas production, consumption and substitution throughout the country, and is expected to be flexible due to the uncertainty associated with the future of gas. 

Key objectives of the strategy will include:

  • Support decarbonisation of the Australian economy
  • Promote Australia’s energy security and affordability
  • Enhance Australia’s reputation as an attractive trade and investment destination
  • Help trade partners on their own paths to net zero 

The Future Gas Strategy is expected to investigate the supply-demand balance of gas to 2050 to meet net zero emissions, and will look at where, when and how much Australian gas is needed, considering the following:

  • All gas market participants, including producers, transporters, industry users, consumers, investors and trade partners
  • Individuals who reside near, work, and are affected by natural gas developments, including local communities and First Nations peoples 

The strategy will examine how continued investment can be consistent with the country’s legislative objective of reaching net zero emissions by 2050. Around 21 per cent of Australia’s national net greenhouse emissions are related to gas production and use. 

The strategy and the government are encouraging producers and consumers to reduce, capture or offset emissions to reach the national climate targets. Consumers can reduce emissions from gas by increasing energy efficiency and using substitutions for gas, whilst producers can reduce production-related emissions by working to ensure more gas gets to customers. 

Federal Minister for Resources, Madeleine King, said Australia’s gas policy settings were important for Australia’s energy security, for business and industry, for the environment and for local economies, and the strategy would help government, industry and households make decisions about the future role of gas.

“The Future Gas Strategy will ensure Australia has the long-term policy clarity needed to support decisions across communities, industry and governments,” Ms King said. 

“The role of gas will change as the world decarbonises – both in Australia’s energy mix and in the energy use of our trading partners.

“We need to ensure gas demand decreases faster than supply through the energy transition. 

“Gas shortages, supply disruptions and high prices are among the consequences of reducing supply faster than demand. 

“These consequences disproportionately impact those who can least afford them, worsening poverty and inequality.”

The Australian Government is opening consultations, welcoming feedback from anyone with an interest in the issues released in the Future Gas Strategy paper, and are accepting responses from the paper between 3 October 2023-13 November 2023. In addition to public consultation, the government is conducting targeted stakeholder consultations. 

The strategy is expected to be finalised in mid-2024.

Strategy welcomed

Australian Energy Producers Chief Executive, Samantha McCulloch, said the paper recognised the growing role of gas as a partner to renewables in electricity, as well as the importance of gas exports to Australia and the region.

“Gas is the safety net for our energy system and the key to providing reliable and affordable energy to households and businesses as we transform to net zero. 

“The paper underscores the urgency of supporting investment in new gas supply to avoid shortages. This must include a focus on ensuring regulatory approvals processes that are robust and efficient.”

Ms McCulloch said the Strategy was an important vehicle to highlight the significant contribution the gas industry makes to the economy, our way of life and its role in delivering net zero.

“The paper confirms that Australian households and industry will be relying on gas for decades.

“This is not just about the gas industry but the whole economy given the importance of gas to sectors such as manufacturing and mining where tens of thousands of jobs rely on stable and affordable gas supply.

“The Strategy must recognise the many variables that will determine future gas demand and ensure Australia is able to capture the economic, energy security and emissions reduction opportunities of the sector and those industries that rely on gas.”

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