Australia to gamble billion dollar handout on coal carbon bomb

Intro

As indigenous protesters in the US celebrate an historic victory over the North Dakota pipeline, everyday Australians are gearing up to fight their Federal government over newly announced plans to offer vast subsidies to huge new coal mines in Queensland’s Galilee Basin. The Galilee’s coal deposits are a carbon bomb that will derail international efforts to stay below 2DegC of global warming, but Australia’s coal-addicted government is determined to get the disastrous project on track, this week shoveling an unneeded AUD$1 billion of taxpayer money into a rail line to get the coal to the coast, where it can be exported through the crisis-stricken Great Barrier Reef. Two-thirds of Australians know the reef is in crisis, and is skirting an “in danger” listing from the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. This will have a disastrous impact on the country’s AUD$6 billion tourism industry, but the Government is doing nothing of substance to protect it. Instead it chasing risky, fading coal dollars, blowing its carbon budget, and desperately trying to make it look like it is building effective climate policy when it is doing its best to do nothing of the sort.

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Key Points

  • The Australian Government is prepared to gamble AUD$1 billion of taxpayer money on a coal project that will either end up a colossal white elephant, or a death knell for the Great Barrier Reef and its AUD$6 billion tourism industry. With Indian energy giant and tax-haven aficionado Adani struggling to finance its huge coal project in Queensland’s Galilee basin, the Australian government is ready to hand a cool, unneeded billion dollars to help the construction of a rail line to get the coal to export terminals on the Great Barrier Reef. This will create further direct and indirect stress on the reef through increased shipping and pollution, and worsening coral bleaching from warming and acidifying oceans.
  • Energy poverty is a real problem, but coal is a bogus solution. Adani and the Australian Government have been ham-fistedly pushing coal as a solution to energy poverty and a way to reduce India’s carbon emissions through the burning of marginally less dirty Australian coal, when in reality indoor and outdoor air pollution is killing untold numbers of people as it speeds global warming and reef destruction.

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Key Quotes

  • “We really have to start taking some tough decisions, and one of them is that we really should not be opening up any new coal mines. We know that there is a serious issue with jobs in north Queensland, but it’s not about any old job, it’s the right job. It’s about jobs that are in industries that are the future, like renewable energy, jobs that are in the tourism sector, which is growing, that will be terribly hurt if this massive Adani coal mine goes ahead.” Imogen Zethoven from the Australian Marine Conservation Society
  • “While the world is moving away from coal, the federal government is looking at funding a project that some of the biggest banks in the world won’t go near and the Queensland Treasury has called unbankable. It’s absurd to prop up a project that banks won’t touch. No more taxpayer money should be wasted on coal projects that threaten our Great Barrier Reef.” Shani Tager, Greenpeace Australia Pacific reef campaigner
  • “Long-term renewable energy policy is essential to provide investment signals that will continue to attract capital from both local and international investors. [R]enewable energy is the lowest-cost type of energy which can be built today, it is competing against old coal-fired power plants which were built by taxpayers many decades ago. While many of these will close in the decades to come, a national energy strategy is needed to minimise the impact on local communities, power prices and energy security.” – Kane Thornton, Clean Energy Council Chief Executive
  • “On the same day the government outlines a climate review that won’t extend the Renewable Energy Target or put a price on pollution, Malcolm Turnbull is lighting the fuse of a ticking carbon bomb by backing the giant Adani coal mine. Malcolm Turnbull and his government are about to spend a billion dollars on a project that will kill people, kill jobs and kill the reef. The government’s planned review proves they are not serious about tackling dangerous global warming and are turning a blind eye to the commitments they made in Paris.” – Adam Bandt, Greens Climate Change and Energy spokesperson
  • “Since the carbon pricing mechanism was repealed, slowly but surely carbon emissions have been increasing both in intensity and in volume, so it’s no surprise that overall emissions have started creeping up as well.” Matt Drum, director of NDEVR Environmental

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