Captured State: the influence of the oil & gas lobby in WA

The gas industry has grown into Western Australia’s (WA’s) largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Five facilities in WA have been a key driver of rising carbon emissions nationally, while the overturned state-wide fracking ban could drive up further emissions.

All this in a critical decade for climate action when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned of the need to drastically reduce emissions in order to avoid tipping over 1.5 degrees of warming.

We set out to find out the extent to which the gas industry in WA holds influence over the WA Government, and the way that is impacting on WA’s approach to climate change.

What we uncovered

Using Freedom of Information requests, donations data, and publicly available information from government, companies, and LinkedIn sources, we found that the gas industry wields significant influence over our democracy in WA. 

Gas corporations continue to profit from their unabated pollution by maintaining influence over those who hold the power and responsibility to curb the industry’s emissions. Elected officials have been reluctant to take steps to curb the fossil fuel industry’s emissions, and show support for further expansion, despite the consequences this would have for the climate.

Key findings from the Captured State report included:

  • Political donations by oil and gas companies are often made within days of meetings with ministers. For the first time, the dates of political donations have been compared to the dates of meetings between gas lobbyists and four WA ministers, including the Premier. 
  • Political donations correspond with political decisions. For the first time, political donations have been mapped on timelines to reveal peaks in donations that correspond to decisions affecting the donors.
  • Emissions and offset conditions on gas projects are weak, and not being met. The first visual representations of greenhouse gas emissions and offsets for five of WA’s biggest emitting projects shows large differences between emissions created, offset requirements and actual offsets.
  • Woodside Petroleum is the most powerful political player from the gas industry in Western Australia. 
  • There is a significant revolving door between WA’s fossil fuel industry, political offices, and the state bureaucracy. 

This report and its key findings were covered in WA Today.

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