overview of possible impacts from coal seam gas
development in Northern Rivers, New South Wales
Project by Elfian Schieren, 2012
The burning of fossil fuels for energy
underpins all modern economic activities and has greatly assisted modern social
development (Australian Department of Resources Energy and Tourism, 2011).
More than a century ago the idea was raised
that greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels had potential to
cause global warming (Hoffart et al, 2002).
Since then human induced greenhouse gas
emissions from the burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal have
significantly increased levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (IPCC,
Atmospheric levels of CO2 have increased
from 280ppm to over 380ppm since 1989 (Garnaut, 2008).
In recent years research revealed a rising
trend in average global temperatures associated with these increased
concentrations of greenhouse gases (IPCC, 2007).
Current climate simulations suggest a mean
global warming of between 1.5 to 5.8ºC in the next hundred years (IPCC, 2007).
The impacts of climate change on food and
resource security are greatly concerning to governments and policy makers.
Extreme weather events such as severe
droughts, floods and high or low temperature anomalies are thought to correlate
with rising temperatures and pose a serious threat to agriculture and coastal
societies (Rosenzweig et al, 2001).
Increasing global population and
consumption rates place further stress on global ecosystems.
Economic systems are also being put under
pressure to maintain growth in energy production, mainly to cater for high
consumption lifestyles in developed countries (Satterthwaite, 2009).
Increasing energy demand from growing
domestic and overseas economies, pressure for climate change mitigation and
finite oil supplies is prompting industries toward the production of alternative
fuel sources (Australian Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, 2011).
The Australian Federal Government (2011)
emphasizes the need for large scale investment to meet the energy demands of a
growing population and achieve a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Australia is the world’s ninth largest
energy producer with an abundance of renewable and non-renewable energy sources
and investment in new energy sources is considered essential to future economic
growth (Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, 2011).
In Australia much of the energy transition
to lower emissions will be achieved through the use of gas-fired power instead
of coal power and expansion in renewable energy development.
In particular coal seam gas (CSG) and
geothermal technology are considered crucial elements to developing Australia’s
energy future (Australian Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, 2011).
Increasing use of gas for electricity has
seen exponential growth in development of Australian CSG reserves located in
Queensland (QLD) (30.3%) and, to a lesser extent, New South Wales (NSW) (2.5%).
Together these reserves total 32.8% of all
Australian gas reserves including conventional gas (Australian Energy Regulator,
One of the areas opening up for coal seam
gas development is the Northern Rivers region in Northern NSW, a move that has
raised considerable community concerns as to the environmental and social
impacts of CSG (CSG Free Northern Rivers, 2012).
This report aims to provide a preliminary
appraisal of the possibility for CSG to contribute to sustainable development in
the Northern Rivers region of NSW.
The report is only a brief look at a likely
large and complex issue, intending only to provide a broad and brief review of
the potential CSG impacts in consideration with the character and development in
Queensland | Western Australia |
South Australia |