Mining approvals for the extraction of Galilee Basin coal by groups like Adani and companies associated with Gina Reinhardt need immediate review.
Considerable new information is available about the climate impacts of exploiting one of the largest untapped coal reserves on the planet. New coal projects are losing their social licence to operate as society understands the serious impact of climate change on humanity and the ecosystems we depend upon.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report issued earlier this year has now concluded, with 99% certainty, that coral reef systems like the Great Barrier Reef will be lost if nations do not act to prevent the continued unabated production of additional Co2 which will cause 2 degrees of global warming.
One of the world’s greatest unnecessary causes of Co2 production is the burning of thermal coal to produce electricity.
Given that this is no longer necessary because renewable alternatives are cheaper, the Adani coal project, and other new coal projects have been stripped of any rights to a social licence to operate. I contrast that to coking coal that is still needed as economic alternatives remain unavailable just yet.
As one of the largest donors to the Liberal Party and the Institute of Public Affairs, proponents associated with the Galilee Basin coal projects have had both the potential and the incentive to influence past approvals and are likely to seek to prevent a review of any of these or stop future approvals.
But really how can this be?
The federal environmental approval for Adani’s Carmichael coal mine was granted by (then environment) Minister Hunt devoid of economic and scientific reality.
The Minister granted the licence on the basis that it was “speculative” that the opening of this mine would increase carbon emissions.
Such a position is really preposterous. As coal traders around the world will confirm adding a massive new thermal coal basin to the global market will directly contribute to additional emissions.
Traders across the globe have already said that opening such a resource will put downward pressure on coal prices making the use of coal more economic compared with renewable alternatives, and thereby boosting demand and delaying the urgent roll out of renewable energy to combat emissions.
Conveniently ignoring the economic impact of lower coal prices has on demand or delay to renewables Hunt argued that “after giving consideration to the greenhouse gas emissions from the [Adani] mining operation and the burning of mined coal, [he] found that the proposed action would not have an unacceptable impact on the heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef”.
It is important to note how conveniently Hunt ignored the market impact of unlocking such a resource which is a significant multiplier of this effect. Furthermore, as we now know the difference between 2 degrees of warming and 1.5 degrees of warming is the difference of between total loss and 70% loss of the Great Barrier Reef.
Therefore, it is clear that the impact of additional emissions that increase warming will have a direct contributory impact on the Reef, and humanity, and as such the project should be urgently reviewed.
One is left to wonder if 99% loss of the reef “would not have an unacceptable impact”…what would?
I appreciate that the Government and Adani will no doubt have legal technical reason why these basic facts can be ignored in legal deliberation but they can’t be ignored when considering the social license of this project.
The use of sneaky legal technicalities to defeat common sense is clear evidence of a company that that has no social licence to operate and requires the government to stop this project.