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Graph of the Day: Carmichael coal mine to take big chunk of carbon budget

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The economic reasons why Adani’s Carmichael coal mine project should not go ahead are numerous and complex.

The environmental reasons, on the other hand, are pretty straight forward: namely, that digging up and burning the 2.3 billion tonnes of coal contained in the deposit at Queensland’s Galilee Basin will take a huge chunk out of the world’s rapidly diminishing carbon budget, at precisely the time we should be reining it right in.

How much of a chunk? A new report from The Australia Institute has released a report that answers this exact question, and puts it in some helpful context – both visual and written.

Below is the visual part. As you can see in the first graph, the annual carbon emissions Carmichael is projected to contribute to the earth’s atmosphere would effectively cancel out the pledged annual emission reductions of Australia, and for New Zealand nearly 10 times over.

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The second chart shows the annual carbon emissions of major cities around the globe and, as you can see, Carmichael coal mine promises to produce three times the average annual emissions of New Delhi; six times the average annual emissions of Amsterdam; double the average annual emissions of Tokyo; 20 per cent more than the average annual emissions of New York City; and nearly half the average annual emissions of Beijing, a city with a population rivalling Australia.

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 11.32.46 am

In terms of the global carbon budget, TAI’s report finds that the cumulative emissions of the Carmichael coal mine over the course of its life will account for 1/180th of the world’s remaining carbon budget between now and 2050.

And here are some more sobering statistics from the report:

“On average annual emissions across its lifetime, Carmichael will emit 6 per cent more carbon equivalent emissions than Yemen, the Philippines, Mongolia and Sri Lanka combined.

“At peak production, Carmichael will contribute more annual emissions than Bangladesh and its population of 160 million people. Otherwise, it is the equivalent to:

  • 25% of Spain’s annual emissions;
  • 47% of Pakistan’s annual emissions;
  • 64% of Peru’s annual emissions;
  • 68% of Romania’s annual emissions;
  • 73% of Greece’s annual emissions;
  • 103% of Austria’s annual emissions;
  • 355% of Sweden’s annual emissions;
  • 362% of the Philippines’ annual emissions.

  

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  • onesecond

    Wow. This is crazy. Let’s hope they will never find crazy investors.

    • Ronald Brakels

      Fortunately for those who want children to live, the project is, for all intents and porpoises, abandoned.

  • Mike Day

    Wow, this is certainly crazy. How did they work out the MT CO2e emitted? If it is putting out 1419Mtpa of CO2, that equates to over 350Mtpa of export coal. Given the current plans are for 60Mtpa, and 350Mtpa would be more than anyone’s wildest dreams, I can’t see how this number is even remotely possible.

    • Ronald Brakels

      Okay, that can’t be millions of tonnes per annum. I presume it is total resulting emissions over the lifetime of the mine. Looking at the second chart it says the emmissions will be equal to that of the city of Sydney and Sydney certainly doesn’t go through the equivalent of 350 million tonnes of coal a year. (Or rather about 500 million tonnes to produce 1,419 million tonnes of CO2. That’s with 3.67 kilograms of CO2 produced per kilogram of carbon burned, and a carbon content of about 80%.)