Published 26 February 2020
Yesterday welcomed the exciting news that Norwegian oil company Equinor has decided to withdraw from approved plans to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight as it was deemed “not commercially competitive”.
Despite the economic justification of this decision, Sydney Environment Institute (SEI) and fellow partnered environmental groups are delighted by this news – a reflection of the successful, consistent efforts by united vested interests to halt such environmentally detrimental mining exploration.
Over the past year, our researchers have been working in partnership with environmental NGO Greenpeace Australia Pacific (APAC) with concerned South Australian community groups to pursue a legal dispute against approval of such a project.
In April last year, SEI collaborated with Greenpeace APAC to convene a group of experts from academia, industry and members of coastal communities to consider the key issues of drilling in the Bight. Based on this event, these experts submitted a report to the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) the following month.
The submission was co-authored by Energy and Natural Resources Law expert Dr Madeleine Taylor (University of Sydney), Emeritus Professor Andrew Hopkins (Australian National University), Greg Bourne (Australian Climate Council and former President of BP Australia), and Professor Tina Soliman-Hunter (Aberdeen University Centre for Energy Law).
With an emphasis on Equinor’s “overconfidence” in its ability to prevent a catastrophic oil spill threatening the unique marine life, the report also championed a strong reminder to NOPSEMA to use its legal power to hold the Norwegian multinational energy company accountable to international best-practice standards.
The ongoing partnership of Greenpeace APAC and SEI in supporting and empowering community groups through research is a remarkable example of the potential for interdisciplinary research to support activism in a productive capacity. Such innovative work undertaken at the Institute is therefore having a broader impact within the international arena of environmental justice.
The #FightforTheBight is won! Equnior pulling out of oil exploitation in The GAB is one of the biggest wins for our environment, our country and all Australians. As per our report, Equinor failed to prove the catastrophic risks are viable commercially:https://t.co/TJGXMpv5z1
— ⚖️💡 Dr. Madeline Taylor (@drmadelinet) February 25, 2020
This momentous announcement signals a shift in what is considered viable within the Institute and the wider community’s efforts to represent the voices of those impacted against entrenched political and economic interests. As David Ritter, CEO of Greenpeace APAC, stated yesterday, “This is an incredible win for people power and nature – after years of relentless campaigning by coastal communities, Indigenous traditional owners, surfers, the seafood industry, tourism operators and other local businesses”.
“Never doubt the power and determination of the Australian people.”
Genevieve Wright is the Events and Administration Coordinator at the Sydney Environment Institute. Genevieve recently graduated from a Bachelor of Communications majoring in both Media Arts and Production and Journalism at the University of Technology Sydney. With a keen interest in the psychological responses to the climate crisis, Genevieve hopes to imbue her creative background into community programs that centre on transforming school curriculum and empowering communities to lead the way to a renewable future.