I have two big updates to share with you on our case against fossil fuel giant, Woodside.

1. Yesterday, ACF lodged five detailed expert reports in the Federal Court as part of our case against Woodside. Our evidence is now submitted.

2. We have a court date!

This case is about the impact of Woodside’s Scarborough gas project’s greenhouse gas emissions on the Great Barrier Reef.

ACF will ask the Federal Court to stop the project until its impact on the Great Barrier Reef is assessed.

Scarborough is a proposed new gas mine off Western Australia, part of Woodside’s Burrup Hub and associated with Woodside’s expansion of the Pluto gas facility on Murujuga / Burrup Peninsula.

Woodside itself has publicly estimated that scope 1 and 3 emissions from the Scarborough gas mine alone (including emissions from processing at the Pluto gas plant) will be 878.02 megatonnes of greenhouse pollution.¹ ²

In fact, to give you an idea of the scale of Woodside’s overall plans for the Murujuga/Burrup Peninsula, independent analysts who are not involved in the case have estimated the total cumulative Scope 1 and 3 emissions from Woodside’s proposed Scarborough project, together with other emissions from its proposed expansion of the Pluto processing plant, would be 1.37 billion tonnes of greenhouse pollution over the next 35 years.³ That is equivalent to three years of all Australia’s domestic emissions.

Although gas from the proposed Scarborough mine would be extracted off the coast of WA and much of it burned overseas, it would affect the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland by fuelling climate change, which is causing repeated coral bleaching events on the Reef and many other impacts.

ACF’s evidence will be relied on to establish Scarborough gas will measurably increase global temperature. That temperature increase will kill coral in the Great Barrier Reef. This will result in a “significant impact” on the World Heritage and National Heritage values of the Reef.

ACF will lead evidence from world leading climate and coral reef scientists. Evidence will also be presented by experts in world heritage, electricity markets and the value of the Great Barrier Reef to tourism in Queensland.

ACF’s evidence also responds to Woodside’s defence of the case.

Woodside’s defence (a document filed in Court) says Woodside does not know a whole lot of basic information (that most Australians do) such as:

  • Climate change is the biggest threat to the Reef
  • Greenhouse gas emissions will contribute to marine heatwaves and mass bleaching of the Reef in the future
  • Coral bleaching damages the World Heritage values of the Reef
  • The Reef’s long term outlook is critically dependent on limiting global temperature rise.

It’s no wonder Woodside wants to continue with this project when it claims to not know of its devastating impacts!

ACF’s evidence details the harm Scarborough gas will cause to our precious Great Barrier Reef. It includes numbers connecting coral deaths to the temperature increase the project will cause.

Woodside’s defence also says it is not likely that extracting the Scarborough gas will increase human caused greenhouse gas emissions. Woodside claims it will lower global emissions. This relies on the fossil fuel industry’s well-worn idea of “market substitution” also known as the “drug dealer’s defence”. That is, that if this gas isn’t extracted other gas or coal will be instead and the temperature increase will be the same or greater. But what if we left this gas in the ground? It’s about time this argument received proper scrutiny.

Woodside’s defence also says the impacts of Woodside gas that is burned outside Australia aren’t covered by Australia’s national environmental law. But we all know that regardless of where gas and coal is burned, the emission from it are damaging the Reef

Woodside is due to file its evidence on 11 April 2024, and the case will go to trial on 2 September 2024.

It’s because of our community, standing up for nature, that we can go face-to-face with Woodside in September next year – and work to set an important precedent for the future.

This is one of the boldest cases we’ve taken on at ACF. If you’d like to give an extra gift to continue powering this important legal case, we would be most grateful.

It’ll be a big year next year, but I am so thankful to have you beside us in this fight.


¹ Operation of the Pluto gas project, including emissions from processing gas at the Pluto gas plant, is the subject of current consultation by Woodside on a revised Environment Plan

² Woodside: Scarborough Offshore Project Proposal Development Division Revision 5 Submission (Feb 2020), p 380.

³ Climate Analytics: Woodside’s Scarborough and Pluto Project undermines the Paris Agreement



Header: Edward Haylan / Shutterstock.


Adam Beeson

General Counsel