According to the report, Pollution and Price: the cost of investing in gas, global temperatures will continue to rise unless the main drivers of climate change - coal, oil, and gas - are entirely phased out.
Climate councillor and energy expert Andrew Stock, who is responsible for overseeing development of the last three large gas power stations on Australia's east coast, said the nation's electricity system is ageing, inefficient and polluting, and must be traded-in for clean, affordable and secure renewable power in a planned way.
"Gas power can be as polluting as coal, contributing to Australia's emissions and climate change. As well as emissions from gas power plants, producing gas, particularly unconventional gas like coal seam gas, releases methane, a greenhouse gas 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide," he said.
Stock added that Australia's Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) exports continue to push up gas prices across the country because they link domestic gas to volatile world oil prices.
Combined with a lack of competition amongst local gas power companies, it's a recipe for a high cost, high emission power future.
"Australians need to know that more gas doesn't mean cheaper power. If our government places more reliance on gas power instead of renewables in the domestic market all it will do is drive up electricity bills more," he said.
Key findings from the report include:
- Tackling climate change and protecting Australia from worsening climate impacts requires our energy system to reach net zero emissions before 2050.
- Australia must phase out fossil fuel use, including gas and coal, if we are to fulfill our share of the commitment to limit global temperature below 2°C.
- Australia's LNG exports are pushing up the price of gas power at the expense of Australian households and business because domestic gas prices are now inextricably linked to world market prices for oil.
- Building more gas plants would rely on ageing gas infrastructure, which is increasingly vulnerable to failure, and drive a massive expansion of coal seam and shale gas drilling.
- New renewable energy is cost competitive with new gas now. The cost of renewable power and storage, particularly solar, wind and batteries, continues to fall and has no associated fuel costs.
Climate councillor and former president of BP Australasia Greg Bourne said Australia's current reliance on gas power must be slashed in order to limit global temperature rise and worsening extreme weather events.
"If Australia invests in more gas infrastructure we will be locking in our emissions for decades to come. We have a clear choice - opting for polluting gas or cost-competitive emission-free renewables," he said.
"This report describes how renewable technologies can meet Australia's energy demands, around the clock, day in, day out. The cost of renewable energy, especially solar, wind and energy storage continues to fall. Contrast this with rising gas prices. All the evidence shows those prices will only rise in the future."
The report also includes recommendations for policy makers on the role of gas in Australia's energy system.