MAC: Mines and Communities

Australia outrageous climate change "policy"

Published by MAC on 2015-08-21
Source: Reuters, AFP, Climate Spectator

Once again, Australia 's Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has displayed a lamentable attitude to the imperative to markedly reduce his country's toll of global greenhouse gas emissions (GGE) - meaning he lags behind many other western leaders and China.

He's set his hat for the forthcoming Paris "climate summit" at cutting Australia's GGE by 26-28% of 2005 levels in the next 15 years - although 2005 (conveniently) marked the highest year of such emissions in the country's history.

Abbott declares that "the last thing we want to do is strengthen our environment and at the same time damage our economy".

In contrast, a recent report by the Campaign against Climate Change Trade Union Group claimed that Britain could created new "climate jobs" for one million people. See:

Last Wednesday, an Australian environmental organisation, the MacKay Conservaton Group, succeeded in persuading the country's Federal Court to block the country's largest proposed coal project, the Carmichael mine.

But Tony Abbott could ignore the court's decision and give the mine his government's approval.

Meanwhile, in neighbouring New Zealand, two further coal-fired power plants have been shut down, and its prime minister envisages the country relying on 90% renewable energy sources over the next decade.

Australia unveils emissions reduction target ahead of Paris talks

By Matt Siegel


11 August 2015

SYDNEY - Conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Tuesday announced cuts to Australia's greenhouse gas emissions that were immediately criticized by environmental groups and opposition politicians for lagging behind other advanced economies.

The world's largest exporter of coal and iron ore will cut emissions by 26-28 percent of 2005 levels by 2030, Abbott said, a target that will be submitted as part of negotiations on a global climate deal in Paris at the end of the year.

Australia is one of the largest carbon emitters on a per capita basis due to its reliance on coal-fired power plants, and critics say the move will do little to bring it in line with ambitious targets set by the United States and Europe.

Abbott is already facing criticism for his strong support for the coal industry and for scrapping an ambitious carbon tax and emissions trading plan last year.

"We've got to reduce our emissions but we've got to reduce our emissions in ways which are consistent with continued strong growth," Abbott told reporters.

"The last thing we want to do is strengthen the environment and at the same time damage our economy."

Australia is currently aiming to reduce emissions by 5 percent from 2000 levels by 2020.

Critics accused Abbott of gaming the system by choosing 2005 instead of 2000 for the new benchmark . 2005 was an historically high year for emissions.

The government's independent expert body, the Climate Change Authority, said last month Australia needed to reduce emissions by 40 to 60 percent from 2000 levels by 2030 to meet an international agreement to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels.

Abbott said the new target puts Australia in line with pledges from the United States, the EU and Canada, but data compiled by the Climate Institute think tank puts Canberra's position below all three.

Washington has pledged a 26-28 percent drop on 2005 levels by 2025, or about 41 percent by 2030, while Brussels has promised to deliver 40 percent of 1990 levels by 2030, or about 34 percent based on 2005 levels, it said.

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) said the target was out of step with international consensus.

"It's a defeatist target that shows no faith in the ability of Australians to adapt, innovate and make the transition to a clean economy," ACF head Kelly O'Shanassy said in a statement.

A poll released last week by the Climate Institute showed 63 percent of Australians wanted more action on climate change, up six percentage points from 2014.

Australia's main opposition Labor Party has seized on the shift in public opinion, pledging last month to reinstate the emissions trading scheme and raise the level of energy generated by renewable sources to 50 percent by 2030.

(Reporting by Matt Siegel; Editing by Richard Pullin)

On Adani coal mine, Abbott Gov't thinks it’s above the law

Climate Spectator

Ellen Roberts

7 August 2015

In the wake of the Federal Court’s decision on Wednesday, Minister Hunt and the Abbott government have mounted a savage attack on Mackay Conservation Group and Australia’s environment laws.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has described my organisation’s actions to protect the environment and uphold the law as an act of “sabotage”.

In addition, instead of heeding the court’s decision and respecting the independence of the judiciary, Minister Hunt is attacking the laws he has broken, threatening to shift the goal posts and placing threatened species throughout Australia in danger. The legal system is in place to protect us and the world around us. Clearly the government thinks it is above the law.

These laws protect not only yakka skinks and ornamental snakes, but all Australian plants and animals. Today it’s the yakka skink, tomorrow it will be the koala.

Australians are rightfully proud of our unique native animals, and want to see them protected .

It’s typical that Adani, who have ridden roughshod over India’s environment laws, would describe the court’s decision that the Government had failed to adequately consider their mine’s impact on Australia ’s native animals mere technicalities.

Given such behaviour how can we trust Adani and Minister Hunt with Australia’s Great Barrier Reef?

Instead of whittling away Australia's meagre environment laws the government should be strengthening them, for example measures to cut carbon pollution.

Abbott claims Australia needs destructive projects like the Carmichael mine, but Adani has repeatedly misled the Australian public about jobs and royalties from this mine and only told the truth when under oath in a court of law. Instead of the 10,000 claimed by Adani and cited by Abbott, it was conceded under court questioning that the Carmichael project will only yield 1,464 net jobs . 

Queenslanders need real economic opportunities not short term destructive projects like the Carmichael mine.

Mackay Conservation Group has a proud thirty year history in the Mackay community, successfully protecting precious habitat, water resources and the Great Barrier Reef throughout Central Queensland.

It is astonishing and deeply troubling that it has taken a legal case by a small community group to bring the approval process under proper public scrutiny, and expose Minister Hunt’s dereliction of duty in fast-tracking the mine.

The scale and impacts of this mine mean it is the most damaging in Australian history. It is the driver for the huge coal port that Adani plans to build on the Great Barrier Reef. Adani has flouted the law and recklessly destroyed environments in India. Minister Hunt also has carriage of the port approval. What faith can the community now have that he will act appropriately to protect the Reef?


Ellen Roberts is the Co-ordinator of the Mackay Conservation Group, which mounted the successful court challenge to the Abbott Government’s environmental approval of the Adani Carmichael Coal Mine.

Australian PM Tony Abbott calls for end to 'sabotage' of mining projects


7 August 2015

The Federal Court this week set aside approval for Adani's Aus$16.5 billion (US$12.2 billion) Carmichael coal mine in Queensland state.The Federal Court this week set aside approval for Adani's Aus$16.5 billion (US$12.2 billion) Carmichael coal mine in Queensland state.

SYDNEY Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has warned against the use of courts to "sabotage" developments, after approval for a massive India-backed coal mine was revoked on a legal challenge.

The Federal Court this week set aside approval for Adani's Aus$16.5 billion (US$12.2 billion) Carmichael coal mine in Queensland state, a project which critics argue risks impacting the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.

"If a vital national project can be endlessly delayed, if the courts can be turned into a means of sabotaging projects which are striving to meet the highest environmental standards, then we have a real problem as a nation," he told The Australian in comments published Friday.

"We can't become a nation of naysayers; we have to remain a nation that gives people a fair go if they play by the rules."

The court has not revealed its reasons for revoking approval, but officials have said it was because departmental advice to Environment Minister Greg Hunt, who approved the mine, may not have met all technical requirements.

Lawyers for the environmentalists say the advice related to two vulnerable reptiles -- the lizard-like yakka skink and the ornamental snake, both of which are only found in Queensland.

Abbott, whose conservative government has promised to be "open for business" since winning power in 2013 and who has spoken repeatedly about the importance of the coal industry to Australia's prosperity, said the mine was important for the economy and jobs .

"This coal will power up the lives of 100 million people in India," Abbott told reporters in Tasmania on Friday, adding this made the project important "not just for Australia, but for the wider world".

The development proposes exporting coal to India via a massive open-cut and underground coal mining some 160 kilometres (100 miles) northwest of Clermont in central Queensland, as well as a 189-kilometre rail link to port.

Environmentalists challenged its approval on the basis of the amount of greenhouse gases the burning of the coal will create, the project's impact on vulnerable species and Adani's "poor environmental record".

They have also protested against its potential impact on the Great Barrier Reef due to coal from the mine being shipped out from a nearby port and the impact of climate change.

Adani has said it is committed to ensuring its mine, rail and port projects in Queensland are developed and operated in line with Australian law, including strict environmental conditions.

Minister Hunt will reconsider his decision based on new advice from the Environment Department, which is expected to take six to eight weeks to prepare.

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