Australia’s National Technology and Science Centre – Questacon – has come under fire for promoting gas as an alternative to renewable energy in a new video series made in partnership with, you guessed it, a gas company.
Questacon has recently released a video series entitled ‘Your Energy’ on social media. Throughout the series, Questacon representatives discuss fossil fuels, how to reduce our own carbon footprint and all of the other climate change stuff you’d expect.
It’s not until you get to the very end of the 5+ minute videos that it’s disclosed that they have been made “in partnership” with Inpex — a major LNG (liquified natural gas) company in Australia. It is also not disclosed that Inpex is in fact a gas company. Viewers would need to know or look up that detail themselves.
However, it’s worth noting that Questacon denies Inpex had any involvement in the content of the video.
“INPEX had no input into the content of this video. As with all of our corporate and philanthropic partnerships, Questacon exercises full editorial control over the content we produce,” a Questacon spokesperson said in a statement to Gizmodo Australia.
Obviously, it’s more than a little questionable that a highly regarded science and technology education resource like Questacon is partnering with a fossil fuel company when Australia is ranked worst in the world for climate action. But the issue here lies in the content itself, which quite literally promotes gas as an energy source.
“We’ll be using more renewable sources for electricity in the future, but it will take time to change from fossil fuels. This won’t happen overnight,” the Questacon spokesperson says in the clip.
“Meanwhile, Australia will need to use transitional sources of electricity, something to support our energy needs while we make the switch,” he says.
“This is where gas could continue to be used in combination with renewables to produce your electricity.”
When questioned by Gizmodo Australia on the ethics of this partnership, Questacon denied that Inpex had any input into the content of the video.
“Our content is always developed with diverse expert knowledge inputs and we routinely draw on appropriate expertise within government, academia, publicly funded science and research agencies, universities, non-government organisations and industry,” a Questacon spokesperson told Gizmodo Australia.
“To achieve this, Questacon works with a wide range of different organisations, many of whom invest in our programs and activities because of our focus on the fundamentals of science, enquiry learning and building STEM skills in young Australians.”
Additionally, Questacon explained that the videos are part of “a wide array of resources that respond to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
“Our Your Energy video series is one example of resources designed by Questacon to promote and increase engagement with the SDGs, in this case SDG 7 – clean and affordable energy. Our focus in this area is on increasing energy literacy in Australia, helping people engage with the complex issues and choices around energy at a time of global transition. Everybody has a role to play in helping us make the transition to clean energy – governments, industries, communities, households and individuals are all part of the solution.”
However, it’s worth noting that the SDGs include “affordable and clean energy” (e.g not fossil fuels) and “climate action”, both of which cannot be met when we’re still promoting LNG as a suitable energy source.
Questacon did not respond to questions regarding how many videos it has planned in partnership with Inpex, its duty to be transparent about the partnership or whether it will stress the urgency of the move to renewable energy moving forward.