26 August 09: Garrett‘s Gorgon LNG Approval – Opinion Matt Keys
the Federal Environment Minister, Peter Garrett announced his approval of the
massive Gorgon Project liquefied natural gas LNG project off the north west coast of Western Australia. The prospect of a man who
has earned a reputation for his strong environmental principles approving such
a project would have been inconceivable 10 years ago. Some have suggested that
Garrett sold his principles down the tube when he joined Federal Parliament.
Frankly, any suggestion of this nature is absolute garbage.
joining Parliament, Garrett took the hard road to further his principles. It
would have been a lot more popular and easier for him to continue throwing
rocks from the outside. However, at some point he accepted that to effect real
change, it must come from within the corridors of power. Hence his decision to
enter Federal Parliament. Equally, the multi-national oil companies realise
that they can no longer behave like a bunch of cowboys either. In the early
90’s, I well remember my colleagues at Surfrider Foundation US running a very
long and ultimately successful campaign against Chevron, highlighting
significant ecological concerns stemming from a large proposed Chevron
development on the West Coast.
years later we see both strident identities – ‘big oil’ and one of the most
respected environmentalists on the planet coming together to sign off on a
massive LNG project on the north west shelf. Why? How could this happen? Fair
questions – and the answer’s quite simple; society no longer ‘desires’ high
environmental performance from industry, they demand it. Equally, companies are
increasingly being run by individuals who have a sincere concern for the
natural environment and are not only driven by legislative demands but also by
a personal desire to minimise or eliminate environmental impacts.
company ‘thinking’ is changing. The triple bottom line is becoming a reality.
Garretts, Suzukis, Carsons
and Bellamys were (and remain) leaders of a worldwide social shift that demands
improved levels of environmental performance. Governments are following
this lead and now set very stringent environmental legislation which keep the
few remaining ‘commercial cowboys’ in line while also pushing the rest of us to
continue to lift the bar on environmental performance. It’s vital that ‘big business' continue to improve their environmental performance. While
great strides are being made in this regard, the path to sustainability will be
a very long journey for all of us. Garrett’s rigorous environmental approval
process for the Gorgon LNG project and Chevron/Shell/Exxon’s willingness to
meet the challenge is just another small, but important, step on a journey
that’s critical to the long term survival of humanity and global biodiversity.
Further - Matt Keys (07) 5596 3355