BP Abandons Drilling in the Great Australian Bight
By Andy Rowell
Conservationists and environmentalists in Australia are celebrating a major victory after the oil giant BP announced that it is abandoning its hugely controversial plans to drill for oil and gas in the Great Australian Bight.
The area, which is off the country's southern coast, is a marine park and home to one of the largest breeding populations of endangered southern right whales in the world.
BP had big plans for the Bight and had once boasted that the region could be as important to the oil industry as the Gulf of Mexico.
But BP had also been struggling to persuade Australia's regulator, National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority, Nopsema, that it could safely drill in the highly ecologically sensitive region.
Three times the regulator has knocked back the company, the third being just last month, when it again found BP's environmental plans inadequate.
The company's plans have also long been opposed by the Wilderness Society and other groups. Speaking last year, the Society's South Australia's director Peter Owen said: "The Great Australian Bight is a haven for whales, boasting the world's most significant southern right whale nursery as well as many humpback, sperm, blue and beak whales."
Environmentalists have called on BP to abandon its plans saying that the area could not be put at risk from oil exploitation and that the company could never adequately clean up an oil spill.
BP Platform Leaks Oil Into North Sea With No Plans to Clean It Up https://t.co/QyIfgezUUs @tarsandsRESIST @stopKXL— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1475701511.0
Today their wish was granted. BP said it was pulling out due to costs and the low oil price.
Claire Fitzpatrick, BP's managing director for exploration and production, Australia said: "We have looked long and hard at our exploration plans for the Great Australian Bight but, in the current external environment, we will only pursue frontier exploration opportunities if they are competitive and aligned to our strategic goals."
She added: "After extensive and careful consideration, this has proven not to be the case for our project to explore in the Bight."
It is not surprising that today's decision by BP was welcomed by environmental groups.
Lyndon Schneiders, Wilderness Society national director said: "This decision shows that it's too expensive to establish the significant and costly risk management and clean up capacity infrastructure needed to protect our communities" from the enormous associated spill risks.
What a massive day for #peoplepower & Australia! ⚡️ "BP pulls out of drilling for oil in the #GreatAustralianBight" https://t.co/y8HesovwNV— Greenpeace Aus Pac (@Greenpeace Aus Pac)1476185588.0
Greenpeace Australia oceans campaigner, Nathaniel Pelle was ecstatic too: "This will come as a huge relief to anyone whose business relies on clean, green seas in the Great Australian Bight, to the fishing communities, to the tourism industry and it is a huge victory for them."
The South Australian Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young added "BP have said goodbye to the Bight, I say good riddance to BP."
She added that the Greens had a bill before the Senate that would permanently protect the Great Australian Bight from oil and gas drilling. "It's time that bill was supported, so that this precious natural environment can be protected for generations to come," said Hanson-Young.
Indeed, the Wilderness Society is now urging other oil and gas companies, such as Chevron, Santos and Statoil, to follow BP's and exit the Blight. Peter Owen, the Society's South Australian director of has also now called on the government to rescind all other permits for oil and gas in the region.
However, Statoil, BP's partner is currently continuing with the project.
"The risk to the Bight is not entirely over," argues Greenpeace Australia oceans campaigner, Nathaniel Pelle. "There are still multiple oil and gas companies with titles in the Bight and it won't be over until all the oil and gas prospects have left."
- Redwoods are the world's tallest trees.
- Now scientists have discovered they are even bigger than we thought.
- Using laser technology they map the 80-meter giants.
- Trees are a key plank in the fight against climate change.
They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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