An alliance of Australia’s top environmental NGOs, formed to oppose the development of what would be the nation’s largest coal mine in northern Queensland, has seized on the resignation of federal resources minister, Matt Canavan, as an opportunity for the Turnbull government to appoint an energy agnostic replacement, and to drop its support for the controversial Adani coal project.
Fat chance, but here’s the idea.
Stop Adani Townsville said on Wednesday that Canavan had acted less like a resources minister and more like “the self appointed minister for Adani” – the Indian company behind the massive proposed Carmichael coal mine and rail project in the Galilee Basin – while steadfastly ignoring the “enormous opportunities” in the state’s north for renewables.
— Tim Buckley (@TimBuckleyIEEFA) May 28, 2017
Canavan, who quit Federal Cabinet on Tuesday after it was revealed he had “unwittingly” taken out dual Italian citizenship, is, indeed, well known for his pro-fossil fuels stance, as well as for his indifference to the Paris climate treaty, and the science behind it.
Some notable recent quotes from the minister, who also oversees the northern Australia portfolio, include “Stop trying to save the planet” – Tweeted in response to Queensland’s zero emissions target; and “forget about climate change.”
But most notably, Canavan has been a staunch defender of the virtually indefensible Adani coal mine, often using highly questionable data to support his argument, despite the weight of evidence showing it to be environmentally unviable, and loaded with financial risk.
“This unexpected turn of events is an opportunity for the Turnbull government to rule out the $1 billion public loan to Adani for its private rail line and leave the success of the mine project to the market,” said Stop Adani Townsville member Wendy Tubman on Wednesday.
Canavan has also been one of a number of key conservative ministers pushing for the development of a new coal-fired generator in northern Queensland, preferably funded by the government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund.
Meanwhile, as we reported here in May, there is some 4,200MW of large-scale wind and solar projects, all of them in central to northern Queensland, and billions of dollars worth of other projects in the pipeline, including biofuels and even a battery gigafactory in Townsville.
“Townsville and the region are sitting on a gold mine of opportunities,” Oliver Yates, the former head of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and a spokesman for Future North, told RenewEconomy at the time.
Said Tubman: “A gross error of Canavan has been to politicise the work of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, turning it into a slush fund for the Turnbull government, which appears desperate to support Gautam Adani’s private business interests.
“Poll after poll show Queenslanders want large-scale renewable energy projects not a dangerous coal mine that will fuel climate change and destroy the Reef.
“Three times as many Queenslanders oppose taxpayer subsidies from Federal or State governments to the Adani mine as support them,” she said.