Gaslit Futures: How Gas Giant Woodside Gets What It Wants

Growing up in Perth in the 1970s and 80s, proud awareness that the city thrived in hotter conditions than the southern capitals of the ‘eastern states’ was part of our parochial identity. But still, there were limits. Temperatures in the 30s were fair game. Beach and pool. Bat and ball. Above 37 was considered a bit of a stinker, because people remembered that 37-and-a-bit had been 100 degrees under the old system. Not so much fun anymore. Pretty bloody hot. In the schoolyard it was rumoured that once the temperature had broken the Fahrenheit century, teachers were obliged to send you home—though I have no recollection that the ambiguously emancipative action of releasing children from their classrooms to face the blistering sun was ever actually taken. In the upper reaches, anything beyond 40 was considered an outlier—maybe one or a few per summer, tops—and noteworthy for that.

On one memorably scorching day, just over thirty years ago, I was among the mad West Australian dogs who were out in the midday sun. It was 23 February 1991, and my suburban cricket team faced a crucial match with top-of-the-table opponents at Brown Park, an unassuming but pleasant set of adjacent sports fields located in the low hills of the east of Perth’s metropolitan sprawl, where the Swan Valley begins to meet the Darling Scarp. We lost the toss, and the relieved opposing captain invited us to have a bowl. I can’t remember what maximum was forecast, but the situation was already pretty severe and getting worse by the time play commenced. At least one of my teammates walked fully clothed into the showers, then straight onto the field in his saturated whites, while others confined their drenching to hats and shirts. That we went ahead with the match was ridiculous: a vanity of young men, too proud, obsessed with the game, and enmeshed in macho sporting ideology to simply walk away from the dangerous and idiotic. In his first or second over, one of our fast bowlers collapsed on his run and had to be assisted from the field. We battled on gamely in a shared daze as the opposition compiled a wearying score against our crippled efforts. Perth’s temperature reached somewhere in the mid-40s that afternoon. We lost the match and missed out on the finals as a result. Thankfully, nobody required hospitalisation. In a decade or so of playing cricket, that is the only time I remember playing in such extreme conditions.

Acts of memory about what weather and climate used to be the norms of human experience are essential and innately political acts in the face of circumstances that are rapidly being altered. It is, sadly, not rose-tinted nostalgia but data-driven reality to acknowledge that when my generation was young, the earth was blessed with a kinder and more stable climate. Last summer, Perth experienced thirteen days above 40 degrees Celsius, six of which were consecutive. Local forecasters reported being hard pressed just to keep up with the number of records broken. I live in Sydney now, but friends and family out west sounded meteorologically punch-drunk when describing the unremitting run of heat. Unfortunately, things are now on an accelerating continuum, with any prospect of future stabilisation dependent on actions taken now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at emergency speed and scale. According to the Western Australian government’s own projections, Perth currently averages twenty-eight days per year above 35—a figure likely to increase to 36 by 2030, with potentially far worse to come.

This is an essay of attribution. Global warming, caused mainly by the extraction and burning of coal, oil and gas, is driving the radical destabilisation of our climate. It is as if the weather is now smashed on drugs, our atmosphere spiked by the tampering hands of the big polluters. In Western Australia, a handful of corporations is responsible for a large proportion of the climate pollution produced there. One of these, Woodside Petroleum Ltd, is Australia’s largest independent, publicly traded oil and gas exploration and production company. Woodside owns Western Australia’s single most greenhousegaspolluting infrastructure facility, ranks as the second highest emitter in the state overall (Chevron is currently the largest), and is poised to become the absolute worst once a planned merger with BHP Petroleum has been fully consummated and the fossil fuel ‘assets’ of the two entities are combined. Woodside is also planning a vast new expansion in the form of the proposed Scarborough–Pluto project to extract gas from multiple wells located around 375km off the coast from Karratha in the West Pilbara. And Scarborough–Pluto is just stage one of an even greater agenda of expansion, which would also include the Browse gas field off the Kimberley coast. At a time when the International Energy Agency (IEA) has called for a total moratorium on opening any new coal, oil or gas projects to avoid climate disaster, Woodside is hell-bent on locking in increasing greenhouse gas emissions for decades to come.

Woodside is systemically significant for other reasons, too. If you aren’t from Perth, it’s a bit hard to convey the extent to which Woodside is everywhere: on kids’ bathers; on the guernsey of one of the city’s two AFL clubs; on the skyline; visibly plugged into elite networks of power; and deep in some local communities. Woodside is a huge polluter with a business model that contributes to a grim vision of rising death and devastation in Western Australia and around the world, but you wouldn’t easily know it, because the truth about the company’s business strategy is obscured by layers of technical obfuscation, slick messaging, reputation-washing, political lobbying, and the sheer short-term convenience for vested interests of maintaining the status quo. Woodside as a corporate actor is both deeply embedded within and structurally important to the reproduction of the Fossil Fuel Order—that array of power that functions to malform Australian culture, politics, economics, law and society, enabling the ongoing exploitation of coal, oil and gas despite the well-understood appalling consequences.

Woodside: Zones of extraction, sacrifice, domination and burning

First registered as a company in 1954, Woodside began exploration of the North West Shelf of Western Australia in the 1960s, made major gas discoveries in the 1970s, and, with other venture partners and the connivance of the state, put in place the vast legal, engineering and financial apparatus necessary to begin offshore gas extraction and export in the 1980s. The spatiality of the enterprise might be understood as a number of concentric imaginaries. The first is the far ‘offshore’, from whence the gas is extracted from deep beneath the waves and underneath the submerged earth. The second is the ‘onshore’ of processing on the Burrup Peninsula, to which five First Nations groups, the Ngarluma, the Mardudhunera, the Yaburara, the Yindjibarndi, and the Wong-Goo-Tt-Oo, assert various rights and interests.

Conceiving of distances in Western Australia can be challenging. As the crow flies, from Perth to the West Pilbara where Woodside’s industrial operations are located is not much less than the distance between the shores of England and the mainland of the African continent. The Burrup is characterised by great piles of heavy red igneous rocks that shift in colour with the light from terracotta brown and marmalade orange to vermillion and plum, broken up by low valleys of spinifex and a few small trees. The natural cairns of the Burrup are home to an astonishing and vast gallery of ancient art consisting of many thousands of individual petroglyphs. Distance, and an implicit and appalling disregard for First Nations’ law and culture, were no doubt fundamental to the corporate and government decision to situate industrial development on the Burrup, which was treated in effect as a sacrifice zone. As Robyn Davidson wrote in The Monthly,

The WA government was searching for a port site to service the mining boom in the Pilbara. Various proposals were put forward; strangely, the Burrup was chosen. After the port, the loading terminal, the town, the iron-ore and salt operations came the North West Shelf Venture gas project, initiated in the early 1980s; petroglyphs in their thousands were bulldozed during each wave of industry.

The right and power of governments and corporations to do what they want on the Burrup has become more contested, with a complex and evolving history of engagement with First Nations peoples of the region that includes displacement and return, litigation and negotiations, agreement-making and conflict. Nonetheless, ‘the onshore’ remains very far away from the polis: the Burrup is a place to which few Australians have actually been, an intensely affecting promontory of stone and deep meaning that is hard to have any real sense of without witnessing.

The third spatial zone is Perth itself, which Woodside has approached with something like an agenda of benign subjugation. The corporation’s aim has always been to secure whatever financial investment, legal permissions and political support was necessary and optimal. In 1988 Woodside gave physical expression to the power of its Perth presence with a new purpose-built office at the main eastern entry to the city, at 1 Adelaide Terrace. Comparatively low-rise at seven floors, the round white Woodside Building settled on Perth’s gateway like an alien spacecraft. The business has moved twice since then to accommodate growth, most recently to a new high-rise dubbed Mia Yellagonga, positioned just a few hundred metres from the state’s parliament. The name is taken from a leader of the Whadjuk Noongar whom the invading colonials encountered in the early 1800s. When the new building opened, a Woodside representative noted with apparent pride that the thirty-two-storey dark-glass edifice sits on top of what was once a fresh spring and a Whadjuk Noongar camping ground.

The eastern states’ capitals comprise the next layer. In Canberra, Woodside also has an agenda of getting what it wants and needs, and is the largest national political donor from the oil and gas sector. In November 2021, Scott Morrison told the Business Council of Australia that when Woodside announced final investment for the Scarborough–Pluto project he ‘did a bit of a jig’. More distant are the overseas imaginaries: the great and profitable Asian markets, including Japan and China, where the gas is shipped and sold, and the countries where Woodside has international developments, including Canada, Senegal and Timor-Leste. Under global carbon accounting rules, the greenhouse gas emissions from production here are counted as ‘Australian’, but what is emitted from burning is attributed to the nations where the substance is eventually used. This is a very convenient arrangement that allows Australia—one of the largest exporters of LNG and of all fossil fuels combined on the planet—to not only dig up and sell fossil fuels for vast profits but also be absolved of all responsibility for the damage that is being done as a consequence of the final burning. The ‘Asian markets’ imaginary in particular has played a very specific role in one of Woodside’s chief justificatory strategies.

Natural poison

Gas has for a long time snuck along as the least noticed of the three categories of fossil fuel. Just like coal and oil, gas is created when intense heat and pressure is applied to subterranean layers of decomposing plant and animal matter over millions of years. Literal invisibility has perhaps spared gas the scrutiny and opprobrium derived from the more publicly tangible foulness of the smogs and slicks produced by coal and oil. The invisible can seem ‘clean’ even if it has the ability to kill you. The attachment of the empty signifier ‘natural’ to dangerous, polluting methane gas has no doubt significantly helped to obscure the hazardous qualities of the vapour too. Plenty of things that are poisonous, deadly and foul—including fossil gas—occur ‘naturally’ in the world. The initialised ‘LNG’ also serves to linguistically elide the reality that the substance is a fossil fuel. The gas industry has capitalised on these euphemistic epithets, cynically attempting to position the dangerous substance as part of the clean energy future, entirely contrary to the real position.

The climate-positive alternative to coal is not gas but rather rapid transition to renewable energy backed by battery storage. However, the gas sector has audaciously and tenaciously attempted to position itself as less polluting than coal and oil because it produces less carbon dioxide (CO2) in the burning phase. This tendentious argument relies on ignoring upstream and leaked emissions during the extraction and production of fossil gas. As the Climate Council has noted in a paper on these issues, once these counting corrections are made, ‘the supposed climate benefit of gas often disappears’. The chemical composition of what we call ‘gas’ is largely methane (CH4)—which in greenhouse terms is almost 100 times more potent than CO2 in the short term. According to the UN, methane traps eighty-six times more heat than CO2 in the short term (between ten and twenty years). Over a 100-year warming period, methane has a warming potential twenty-eight to thirty-four times that of CO2. Fugitive emissions—methane that leaks during the process of production, transmission and storage—are also an enormous problem that is vastly undercounted by the gas industry, including in Australia.

Woodside: Making deadly pollution part of the community

If you squint, Woodside’s white corporate logo looks a little like the mask of a cartoon villain, with pupil-less red eyes staring back through narrow fissures against a background of bright red, the colour of heat and danger. Encountering Woodside always requires a metaphorical narrowing of the gaze, because, as Tim Winton observed recently, in these days of climate emergency the communications strategies of fossil fuel corporations amount to ‘trafficking in cognitive distortion’. Once upon a time, coal, oil and gas companies may have been more inclined to simply attack climate science. It is well documented that fossil fuel majors have in the past funded campaigns and pseudo-research with the purpose of undermining the findings of climate scientists in the public realm. However, strategies have now largely shifted. As science historians Naomi Oreskes and Jeff Nesbit wrote last year,

[N]ow that outright denial is no longer credible, they’ve pivoted from denial to delay. Industry PR and marketing efforts have shifted massive resources to a central message that, yes, climate change is real, but that the necessary changes will require more research and decades to implement, and above all, more fossil fuels. Climate delay is the new climate denial.

For Woodside, the aim is to maintain an ambient plausibility that is consistent with broader hegemonic formations to enable the deadly show to go on—for a giant polluter to keep extracting and selling fossil fuel for decades. The consequence is that landing on Woodside’s website is like crossing through the looking-glass to a different plane of (il)logic: a grotesquely insincere topsy-turvy in which Western Australia’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter is somehow—to quote the company’s tagline—‘part of a better future’.

Co-opting the moral tone

Rather than contesting the need for climate action, Woodside now prefers a strategy of appropriation. According to Woodside’s current landing page, ‘a better tomorrow needs action today’, a slogan you can almost imagine on the sign of a climate activist. As you scroll down, ‘better’ is defined as ‘energy that is cleaner, cheaper and more reliable’, which sounds good—but when used by Woodside these words are empty signifiers. According to Woodside’s current CEO Meg O’Neill, ‘We know that climate change is one of the biggest challenges we face today and recognise that as an energy producer we have a very important role to play in helping the world decarbonise’. Again, this sounds good, until you realise that Woodside’s plan is to continue—and massively expand—the extraction of gas, which is one of the fossil fuels driving climate change. As I was writing this article, O’Neill appeared at the IEA 2022 Ministerial Meeting in Paris, themed as ‘The Year of Implementation: Accelerating Global Action on Clean Energy and Energy Security’. Again, there was no denying the imperative to climate action, but O’Neill took the opportunity to caution the audience that the ‘pursuit of perfection’ should not be allowed to ‘get in the way of good progress’.

Technical trickery

Underneath the co-opting of tone and language, a morass of technical obfuscation and carbon-accounting trickery acts as a second layer of deflection. Despite the fact that the proposed Scarborough project is intended to lock in gas exports for thirty years, O’Neill claims that this huge new fossil fuel infrastructure is ‘an appropriate investment from a decarbonisation perspective’ because of some hoped-for alchemy when the product reaches Asian markets. According to O’Neill, Woodside expects that ‘LNG produced from Scarborough will be a contributor to the decarbonisation efforts of our customers in Asia, particularly given the increased push away from coal’.

Back in 2019, Woodside funded the CSIRO to investigate the claim that increasing gas exports could reduce emissions in Asia by replacing coal with gas. Contrary to Woodside’s supposition, the iconic Australian research agency found instead that ‘increasing Australian gas supply could prolong coal, displace renewables and increase emissions in Asia without a global carbon price’. The report was promptly suppressed, only coming to light in March 2022 following FOI requests by journalists at the Nine Entertainment papers. Research conducted by the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) looking at historic trends reached a similar conclusion: that gas had not materially displaced coal use in Australia’s key export markets, and that it risked crowding out renewable energy.

In December 2021, the Perth-based researchers Climate Analytics compiled the first publicly available analysis of the full impact on emissions of the entire Woodside Scarborough–Pluto project. The authors isolated numerous instances where they alleged that Woodside had relied on ‘flawed abatement, offset and reduction plans’ to reduce the projected impact of the project. The overall conclusion of the Climate Analytics team was damning: if Scarborough–Pluto went ahead, the resultant emissions would be significantly larger than the company estimated, increasing Western Australia’s total emissions by around 10 per cent—and this was just a fraction of the pollution that would result, most of which would be emitted when the gas was finally burned overseas. Woodside relies heavily on offset schemes, attempting to create the impression that it can plant enough trees to ameliorate the pollution it is producing, which is simply not true. According to Climate Analytics, Woodside’s proposed Scarborough–Pluto project is ‘not 1.5°C consistent’ and ‘represents a bet against the world implementing the Paris Agreement’.

Washing a filthy product

Woodside’s declared purpose is to be ‘society’s trusted energy partner’. In publicly listed for-profit companies, the ideological device of ‘corporate purpose’ invariably acts to obscure reality, which is that the real objective of the business must be to maximise shareholder returns. In Woodside’s case, the purpose of being ‘trusted’ seems especially ambiguous given that the corporation’s main business activity is inherently harmful: it is a massive polluter with no plans to turn away from fossil fuel production any time soon in the midst of global climate emergency. But then, as any swindler knows, there are plenty of ways to win trust.

Reputation-washing describes the use of positive activities to distract from or legitimise negative actions or operations, and to manufacture social licence. Greenwashing involves falsely conveying that a given product, service or corporation meaningfully factors environmental responsibility into its business operations and strategy. Woodside, boasting of a six-star energy rating for its new corporate headquarters Mia Yellagonga, is engaging in greenwashing, because any emissions mitigation produced by the building is utterly dwarfed by the greenhouse gases emitted as a consequence of the business’s core operations, but it makes the company sound good. A puff piece about the new HQ that featured on the long-running (1994–2019) Western Australian commercial television current affairs program Today Tonight in December 2018 featured the following exchange:

Reporter: Going Green is taken seriously with a total of eight-and-a-half thousand plants!

Woodside representative: A learning on this project for me was that you can’t just buy eight-and-a-half thousand plants, so we had to buy the seeds and grow them.

[Shot shifts from office plants to bicycle storage]

Reporter: How’s this for the biggest bike shed you’ve ever seen, with storage space for 600 bikes! It all contributes to a six-star energy rating.

Woodside representative: A six-green-star energy rating is very rare in Australia, and we are the only one in Perth that has it.

Other forms of ‘washing’, including sportswashing and artswashing, are also invested in by Woodside. It is not that the positive activities are bad per se. They clearly can benefit the organisations, teams, communities and individuals who receive them in a direct sense. There’s also every likelihood that the Woodside employees who are responsible for administering the programs have the best of personal intentions. Indeed, ‘washing’ has an internal dimension too, furnishing employees with narratives of meaning about their employer that create a plausible veneer over what the core of the business actually involves, like destroying the stability of the world’s climate. Scrolling through ‘Meg’s activity’ on the Woodside CEO’s LinkedIn page, you find yourself squinting again. Glancing down the feed is like being exposed to an ideological strobe light as climate-destroying oil and gas news is darkened by the flashing liberal positivity of ‘likes’ of Reconciliation Week, International Women’s Day, Pride Professionals and Ronald McDonald House, along with someone’s post noting that the ‘Hawaiian Ride for Youth has a RECORD number of female riders this year’.

Structurally, publicly listed companies will only do things—particularly things that cost money—when there is a business case for taking the action. When Woodside says it ‘has an active role to play in contributing to the well-being of our communities’, it is doing so to maintain and enhance social licence: to become ‘trusted’. So it is that giant polluter Woodside garners social acceptance through sponsorships, including of the Fremantle Dockers (one of Western Australia’s two AFL teams); West Australian Ballet; the West Australian Symphony Orchestra; Barking Gecko Theatre; the Western Australian Museum; Curtin University; the University of Western Australia; a COVID ‘community fund’; any number of small community projects; and Surf Life Saving WA’s junior surf awareness and beach safety program for children aged five to twelve, which is known as Woodside Nippers. On joining ‘Woodside Nippers’, every child receives ‘a FREE Woodside Nippers uniform, including a high-vis vest; age group skull cap; wide brim hat; and mesh sling bag!’

Corporate patronage also carefully cultivates Woodside’s aim of being seen as caring about humanity’s future. The company sponsors a Future Lab Network that ostensibly aims to ‘accelerate growth for better ways of working, a better workplace, and a better world’ and a Woodside Development Fund animated by ‘one global vision: every child thrives in their development, learning and life’. At the 2022 Perth Festival, it sponsored an orchestral event entitled Become Ocean, a piece inspired by the composer’s rumination on the impacts of climate change. In a celebrated intervention at an associated writer’s event, Tim Winton made plain the perversity of a fossil fuel company being permitted to sponsor a concert about ocean ecology, saying, ‘You reckon a brewery would put itself forward for a show about foetal alcohol syndrome? How about tobacco sponsoring ventilators for lung patients?’ Winton reflected that the event exemplified ‘how far and how wide and how deep we’ve let the influence of fossil capital seep through our culture’.

Maintaining elite consensus

Woodside’s board members and executives participate in networks of power, enabling the ongoing laundering of the business’s reputation among elites. In addition to sponsoring major events and prestigious institutions, Woodside’s penetration of the upper echelons of culture and society is also perpetrated through the participation of individuals on various boards and committees—O’Neill, for example, is a director of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra (which performed in Become Ocean). Execs from Woodside are also frequently prominent within peak industry bodies: Fiona Hick, Vice President Operations at Woodside, is currently also President of the WA Chamber of Minerals and Energy. Woodside’s own board also reflects its deep lateral links to the broader business and political communities, as it includes one-time Liberal federal resources and energy minister Ian McFarlane and former Labor state treasurer and Minister for Finance, Energy, Aboriginal Affairs and Lands Ben Wyatt, the latter of whom joined the Woodside board (as well as those of Rio Tinto and the Perth Festival) only months after his retirement from politics.

Writing for Guardian Australia, Gold Walkley-winning journalist Anne Davies reported on the close relationship the current WA Premier, Mark McGowan, has with Woodside, which included having dinner with the company’s board just prior to WA’s Environmental Protection Agency finalising a key policy position. Later, McGowan threatened to overturn environmentally grounded legal challenges to the Scarborough–Pluto project should they be successful. Reflecting on these and other revelations, Davies wrote acidly,

Should we be surprised that the premier of WA was invited to dinner with the Woodside board? … That perhaps depends on one’s perspective on the role of our elected representatives. When it comes to projects with enormous economic, environmental and social impacts, perceptions of independence and the maintenance of public confidence in government impartiality are critical. In WA, the close relationship between elected representatives and businesses that form the economic engine of the state is so familiar it almost goes without comment.

The apparent normalisation of a vested interest like Woodside enjoying cosy relations with government was evident when The West Australian headlined that, far from it being a cause for concern, ‘Ben Wyatt should be applauded for his board appointments’. Western Australia’s only daily print newspaper was in effect sanctioning revolving doors between the fossil fuel industry and the highest levels of government as ‘the way things are done around here’—both expressing and replicating the hegemonic power of the Fossil Fuel Order.

Ambient plausibility—having a readymade communications line to resolve the contradictions—is crucial to the maintenance of Woodside’s purchase among the powerful. Political and cultural elites rely on Woodside to maintain the charade of responsible corporate citizenship—the gaslighting sleight of hand that promises that extracting and burning more fossil fuel for decades will somehow magically make a positive contribution to tackling climate change—to ward off reputational embarrassment or being held to account. In February this year, Dan Gocher, Director of Climate and Environment at the ACCR, noted caustically that the gas industry’s ‘unsubstantiated claims’ about emissions reduction ‘are routinely repeated by gas companies, industry associations, politicians, analysts and the media verbatim’. A fortnight later, Mark McGowan illustrated the point by uncritically regurgitating the industry line that ‘obviously gas exports can supplant coal and that actually reduces carbon emissions in countries like Japan and China and India’. The pretence is not true in any meaningful way, but it is highly convenient as an apologia for a political-economic complex of power in which the urgency of climate action is discursively conceded but the climate-destroying ongoing expansion of gas extraction is taken as presumed.

Avoiding Woodside’s dystopia

According to CEO of Climate Analytics Bill Hare, if all countries act on the same principles as Woodside, the world is ‘headed for a temperature increase of between 3C and 4C’, something not seen for fifty-five million years, which would have catastrophic consequences for the entire globe. In this Woodsided World—a future built on Woodside’s principles as outlined by Hare—Western Australia is a permanent disaster zone of extreme heat waves, droughts, fires and storms. Tropical diseases have spread south. Deaths from heat stroke are legion and the state’s amenity has been drastically reduced. Much of its magnificent wildlife has disappeared, as have the vast majority of the forests, destroyed by repeated intense blazes and drought from which there is no recovery. Local ecology is in collapse. The Wheatbelt is no longer giving a reliable harvest. The vines are gone from the Swan Valley and Margaret River. Ningaloo Reef has disappeared, along with all of the creatures that once graced the opalescent waters. Low-lying areas are inundated.

This appalling future of foul dystopia, sponsored by Woodside, can still be avoided. As Tim Winton said earlier this year, the power and influence of fossil fuel companies is ‘neither immutable nor is it inevitable’. Despite the corporation’s ubiquity and multilayered strategy for manufacturing and maintaining consent, many West Australians are feeling high levels of disquiet about Woodside’s operations; public opposition is rising rapidly as the imperative for emergency action on climate change becomes ever more manifest.

One late night last summer, I was still awake in my home in Sydney, sitting on the couch, anxiously checking the status and location of various blazes that were burning out of control in Perth’s near hinterland. I still have siblings and mates living in the Darling Scarp and I was worried for them, as well as feeling sick about the destruction of nature and community in places where I’d knocked around as a kid. Experiencing fresh shock at the recognition of disaster coming home, I saw that Brown Park—the very oval where we’d toiled through that ill-fated cricket match in 40-something degrees more than twenty-five years ago—was one of the designated evacuation centres. Unfortunately, more and more of this—heat, fire, storms and the rest—is now inevitable. Deepening climate damage is what major fossil fuel corporations like Woodside have done to the planet: it is their true legacy. But humanity can still avoid the worst and build a bridge through to a world of regeneration and future flourishing if the likes of Woodside are now held to account. A better tomorrow needs action today.

* With thanks to Fiona Ivits, Jess Panegyres, Alex Krautil and Katrina Bullock for their expert comments and advice on drafts of this article.

About the author

David Ritter

David Ritter is the CEO of Greenpeace Australia Pacific. David’s most recent book is The Coal Truth: The Fight to Stop Adani, Defeat the Big Polluters and Reclaim our Democracy. David also holds affiliations with the University of Western Australia and the University of Sydney. Before joining Greenpeace, David was one of Australia’s leading Indigenous land rights lawyers.

Twitter: David_Ritter; Instagram: davidrittergpap; https://www.greenpeace.org.au

More articles by David Ritter

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