Dr Geralyn McCarron is a GP who was one of the experts to make a submission to the tribunal.
In a huge win for protectors in the anti-gas fight, a tribunal of international legal experts has delivered a scathing report on fracking, arguing the unconventional gas and oil drilling method is a human rights violation.
The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal has handed down its final report on its Session on Human Rights, Fracking and Climate Change, calling for a worldwide ban on fracking, and encouraging support for people’s movements against the controversial drilling technique.
The report makes several recommendations for local, state, national and UN action, including that nations recognise the rights of nature in a similar way to human rights to help address the existential threat of climate change.
It also calls for the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment to be asked to investigate the violations of the rights of humans and nature by the unconventional oil and gas extraction (UOGE) industry.
Ballina’s Dr Mariann Lloyd-Smith is the National Toxics Network’s Senior Advisor – Lloyd-Smith presented important expert evidence to the tribunal.
Convenor of the Australian tribunal sessions and impacted Chinchilla resident, Shay Dougall said she planned to use the document to pressure the Queensland and Federal governments.
Dougall, who has been working on the project since October 2015, says this Tribunal session was the first ever to be held ‘virtually’ which meant it could be done from anywhere without travelling. ‘We could see pretty much immediately the contributions of everyone as it is recorded and available on the web,’ she said. ‘So for me, the moment when I thought this was going to be amazing was the day that we provided our oral presentation to the tribunal.
‘It was amazing to hear and see and feel the world wide validation of our concerns – then for that to be quickly followed up by the preliminary judges statement. Dougall says it has taken nearly a year to have the final report. ‘The Advisory opinion delivered speaks to the amount of evidence and the serious deliberation that went into the document.
‘It is an incredibly powerful experience to finally have our concerns and issues validated by the PPT,’ she says. ‘For so long the same evidence has been provided to no less than 17 government enquiries in Australia to no avail – it fell on deaf ears.
‘To have it finally validated gives us the language and the platform to confidently expect our elected government to act.
Dougall says what this means for the unconventional gas industry is that the unqualified government support they have enjoyed to date is ending.
‘The encouragement the people needed to step up and set the expectation of protection from the industry by resisting the industry has been fearlessly encouraged by the PPT, that any area under threat from the industry right now are able to confidently push back and expect that the other side of the conversation – the one opposite the economic furphy we hear so often – the one about protection of water, and the environment, health and safety that is the foundation of our human rights is the first consideration.
’It also means that our governments have been put on notice internationally that they must act in the interests of these issues or they are failing us legally and morally.
Dougall says the Queensland Government has recklessly approved the Arrow energy CSG expansion on the Western Downs, despite what is known about the unconventional gas industry. ‘We know CSG on the Western Downs has dewatered farmers’ bores, it’s led to a massive decline in agriculture, and has not supplied anywhere near the number of permanent jobs first touted by the industry.
‘There are ongoing concerns about health impacts on people who are forced to live near this invasive, polluting industry.
‘As well, the gas industry is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions due to the production and transport processes, and due to gas leaks from wells and pipelines.
The report also specifically notes the disappointing decision by the NT and WA Labor Governments to reverse their moratoria on fracking.
Shay says we have to remain vigilant to keep he wolves at bay. ‘We will maintain the web site and social media pages that host the evidence,’ she said. ‘We will continue to add to it as people come forward to testify to the harm that this industry is causing, and use it to keep people posted on our other actions such as we will be taking the Advisory opinion straight to the government and requiring them to publicly respond, we will be holding events that translate the Advisory opinion into every day implications and actions, for impacted areas and how those in other areas can support them.
‘We will be actively taking part in the further investigations recommended by the Advisory opinion’.
Local filmmakers Cloudcatcher Media also made a submission to the tribunal.