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Warnings Australia could ‘lock in’ fossil fuel dependency with $26b worth of new gas pipelines

Australia could be left with $26 billion worth of stranded gas pipelines, according to a report that calls the country’s investment in costly new assets “incompatible” with efforts to wean economies off fossil fuels.

Global Energy Monitor (GEM), a US-based environmental pressure group, said Australia risked locking in “decades” of fossil fuel dependency amid plans to build more than 12,000 kilometers of gas pipelines across the country.

In a report released overnight, the group said the value of gas pipelines either under construction or planned was $US18.6b — the fourth highest amount of any country in the world.

China, Russia and India were the only countries with more pipelines on the drawing board.

GEM said the spending would make it significantly harder for Australia to help global efforts to keep temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius and was at odds with calls from the International Energy Agency to end fossil fuel development within five years.

But the industry body representing pipeline owners rejected the claims, saying gas was a cleaner fuel than coal and oil, and would be needed in the shift towards green energy.

Billions of dollars have been spent in recent years expanding Australia’s gas pipeline network.(ABC News)

Natural gas ‘not easy to replace’

Australian Pipelines and Gas Association (APGA) boss Steve Davies also questioned the assumptions made by GEM, saying it appeared to have included any possible project.

Mr Davies said many of the projects were competing with each other, meaning some would not go ahead.

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