MAC: Mines and Communities

Australian electorate heads "down under" over climate change

Published by MAC on 2019-05-27
Source: The Times (UK)

Adani's Carmichael coal mine back on track

Despite many vocal protests against Australian reliance on fossil fuel production and export, its electorate has opted to vote in a Labor government that will almost certainly back Adani's huge Carmichael coal project.

In a sudden volte face Queensland's premier now says she will "overturn" all attempts to block the mine - doing so within three weeks [For earlier posting, see: Carmichael mine unlikely to proceed ]

Australia plans coalfield the size of Britain in climate change U-turn

Bernard Lagan,

The Times (UK)

25 May 2019

Concern over jobs in coal mining at sites such as Hunter Valley have taken precedence over climate fears in Australia

Climate change was supposed to have won the Labor Party the Australian election. But yesterday, after having been routed by voters, its panicked leaders backed the mining of a coalfield bigger than the UK.

Fearing a wipeout in state elections next year amid a rise in pro-coal workers and a rebellion against its plans to halve Australia’s carbon emissions, the Labor state government in Queensland accelerated its decision on 105,000 square miles of coal-rich outback land known as the Galilee Basin.

It came days after the party lost what was dubbed the “climate election” to the incumbent centre-right, pro-coal government of Scott Morrison, suffering the most damage — with swings of up to 20 per cent — in the coal country of central Queensland and the Hunter Valley of New South Wales.

Annastacia Palaszczuk, Queensland’s premier, announced that she was overturning all attempts to block mining and all outstanding approvals would be resolved within three weeks. She said that she was “fed up” with her own government’s processes, and that the election had been a “wake-up call” on mining the basin.

The move was welcomed by Matt Canavan, the federal resources minister, who said yesterday that the Galilee Basin represented a victory for the “hi-vis workers’ revolution” — a reference to the armies of mine workers in high-visibility shirts who make Australia the world’s biggest coal exporter, and seemingly a reference to the yellow-vest movement in France that has challenged President Macron on his climate policies.

The international climate action movement argues that if the Galilee Basin’s estimated 27 billion tons of coal were extracted, exported and burnt, the extra carbon dioxide released each year would be far more than Australia’s total emissions and would set back the world’s chances of keeping the increase in global warming under 2C.

Until yesterday the Labor government in Queensland had put a series of hurdles in the way of the Indian energy conglomerate Adani, which wants the basin’s coal to fuel India’s power stations. In its last attempt to block the extraction, last month the government argued that a tiny finch might be wiped out if its basin habitat were mined.

Australia’s Climate Council, an independent scientific organisation, said it believed that the election result did not show that people had become less concerned about the threat of climate change but that instead they feared that jobs in industries that contributed to climate change — such as coal mining — could not be easily replaced.

A poll conducted by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation of more than 100,000 voters found that the environment was the No 1 issue for most respondents, with 29 per cent rating it as their biggest concern, up from 9 per cent in the 2016 election.



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