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Woodside gas plant extension “flies in the face of science”, as leading scientists and experts urge ministers to reject plans

Over 50 top scientists and experts are urging state and federal environment ministers to reject Woodside's controversial North West Shelf gas plant extension. The proposal, if approved, would have severe environmental and economic consequences for Western Australia and exacerbate the challenges posed by climate change.

In an open letter published in today’s West Australian newspaper, a number of high profile scientists and leaders in their field have called on WA Environment and Climate Action Minister Reece Whitby and Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek to reject a proposal which would see the facility in the Pilbara given license to operate until 2070.

One of the high-profile experts and former Australian of the Year, Professor Fiona Stanley AC, calls for the project to be rejected as it “flies in the face of all the science”.

Estimates provided by WA's Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) indicate that extending the plant's life would result in a staggering 4.3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions. This is equivalent to 12.1 million car journeys around the world every year for the next 50 years, exacerbating WA's ongoing emissions crisis.

Gas - which is a fossil fuel – produced at the site has been found to be one of the primary drivers behind WA’s ongoing emissions crisis, which has seen emissions levels rise by 4 per cent over 2005 levels, in contrast to reductions in other states.

Other high profile signatories to the letter include Professor Tim Flannery FAA Chief Councillor of the Climate Council, Curtin University Professor of Sustainability and IPCC Lead Author Peter Newman AO, Climate Scientist and IPCC Coordinating Lead Author from the University of Tasmania Professor Nathan Bindoff, and Distinguished Professor Kingsley Dixon AO.

Australia’s biggest climate decision

The letter sets out the range of threats which WA faces as a result of climate change – including longer and more deadly heatwaves, bushfire seasons, rainfall decline in the southwest, droughts in agricultural areas and more intense floods, storms and cyclones. It also cites the measurable impacts on iconic WA landscapes and natural wonders, like the Northern Jarrah Forest and Ningaloo Reef.

“Science shows that the use of all fossil fuels, including gas, must decline imminently if warming is to be limited to 1.5°C”, the letter reads.

“The North West Shelf is already one of the biggest industrial emitters in Australia. It is seeking an extension to burn and produce fossil fuels all the way to 2070, to the tune of 4.394 billion tonnes of CO2-e, making it Australia’s biggest climate decision.”

Last year, the North West Shelf extension faced a record-breaking 770 appeals from concerned citizens—the largest number in WA's environmental history. This outpouring of public concern signals a clear demand for a reconsideration of the extension, echoing what the state's peak environmental body termed 'a referendum on the future of fossil fuels in WA’.

 “Making the right decision for all our kids”

Professor Fiona Stanley AC said "The UNICEF report card (2022) ranks Australia down 38 out of 43 OECD countries on the environments we are providing for our children and young people! Australia is one of the highest CO2 emitters per Capita. The biggest threat to children all over the world and in WA too, are the excessive use of fossil fuels.  

“Allowing such an enormous new gas development in WA flies in the face of all the science. Do we need more raging fires and extreme weather events to shock our leaders into making the right decision for all our kids now and in the future?"

Anna Chapman, Fossil Fuels Program Manager at the Conservation Council of WA – Western Australia’s peak body for the environment and climate – said that it was important the state and federal governments listened to the science.

“There is overwhelming scientific consensus – not just here in Australia, but across the globe – that fossil fuel production must decline rapidly if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

“Western Australia exports more highly polluting fossil fuels than almost anywhere else on earth. In fact, if WA were a country, it would be the third largest exporter of gas in the world.

We are contributing a disproportionate amount to the global climate crisis but doing far less than we should to tackle this existential threat to our way of life. This letter, signed by some of Australia’s leading scientific minds, only adds to the widespread condemnation of the North West Shelf proposal.

"The rejection of the North West Shelf proposal is not just a state concern but a global imperative. We call on Ministers Whitby and Plibersek to heed the overwhelming scientific consensus and public sentiment, rejecting this proposal to protect our environment and contribute responsibly to the global fight against climate change."


MEDIA INFORMATION: The Conservation Council of WA (CCWA) is the state’s foremost nonprofit, non-government conservation organisation representing nearly 100 environmental organisations across Western Australia. For more information, visit:

CONTACT: For any enquiries relating to this release, please call 0412 272 570

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