Queensland’s new Labor government has cleared the way for huge coal developments in the Galilee basin, reaching a deal with Indian coal giants Adani and GVK on the Abbot point terminal expansion and resulting dredge spoil dumping. The three million cubic metres of dredge spoil removed during the proposed port expansion will now have to be dumped at the port itself, not on the reef or nearby wetlands, with an Environmental Impact Statement due to be complete by end of year. The government has also remained firm on its position of not providing taxpayer support for the projects to expand the port or link it to the mines with new rail infrastructure. While the announcement is an improvement on the previous Liberal National coalition government position, the dredging and increased shipping that would result from the port expansion stills risk an “in danger” ruling for the Great Barrier Reef from UNESCO. With the price of coal shooting through the floor, renewables increasingly challenging and beating coal on cost, and financial scandals and accusations of misleading behavior plaguing Adani, serious questions hang over the project’s overall viability. Adani’s project is increasingly looking like a white elephant, so the State Government’s deal could be seen as a savvy way to avoid blame if it falls over. However, its comments on the decision – that Labor are “no fools” and future economic development relies on coal mining – fail to reconcile the heavy risks in store for QLD if its economic star remains hitched to coal. There will be no coal industry in a world acting on climate change, where coal assets end up stranded in carbon bubble, or there will be no reef with a coal industry and its worsening impact on the local environment and global climate. Either way, QLD and Australia loses with coal.
- MT @GreenpeaceAustP: QLD gov announce plans to dump Abbot Pt dredge spoil at T2 http://t.co/NozaBa8SGH #savethereef http://t.co/Q7i83Xdl0j
- The global tide is turning against coal. Not only has the coal market dived, but new investments in coal plants are proving ruinously uneconomic as clean energy booms. The future remains grim as China looks to peak and cap coal, and world governments increasingly vocalise the total fossil fuel phase-out in climate discussions.
- Coal expansion and reef protection are mutually exclusive. To argue both can coexist ignores every warning put forward by experts and scientific evidence. Dredging and increased ship traffic create direct and local damage on the reef, while pollution from burning the vast amount of coal the mines produce increases global warming and ocean acidification. These pressures are already exerting a heavy toll on the reef and the tourism industry it supports, increasing these pressures will push them into further decline.
- Putting a state’s economic and environmental future in the hands of dirty energy conglomerates with highly questionable business practices is a recipe for disaster. Adani has a history of environmental destruction, non-compliance with regulations and human rights abuses, and given it is currently at the centre of a financial scandal and accusations of misleading behavior, its claims about jobs, royalty contributions and desire to protect the environment are highly questionable.
- Dredging in Great Barrier Reef allowed but not with taxpayer money, says Labor (The Guardian)
- We Asked Queensland’s New Environment Minister What He’s Doing for the Reef (Vice)
- Queensland Government announces Abbot Point Terminal dumping site (Australian mining)
- Adani, GVK win Queensland backing to expand Galilee Basin coal port (SMH)
- Abbot Point expansion will damage reef, climate, activists say (ABC)
- ASIC called on to investigate Adani (SMH)
Tools and resources
- PR: QLD Govt statement (Annastacia Palaszczuk, Anthony Lynham)
- PR: Larissa Waters (Australian Greens)
- Report: Global Energy Markets Transition Drives Thermal Coal Into Structural Decline (IEEFA)
- Report: Current and Future Cost of Photovoltaics (Agora Energiewende)
- Report: Report- Remote Prospects: A financial analysis of Adani’s coal gamble in Australia’s Galilee Basin (IEEFA)
- Report: A review of the Adani group’s environmental history in the context of the Carmichael coal mine approval (Environmental Justice Australia)
- Report: Are there 27,000 jobs in the Galilee Basin? (The Australia Institute)
- Report: Queensland Taxpayers’ $2 billion Abbot Point Subsidies Bill (The Australia Institute)
- Records: Adani donations to ALP and Liberal Party (AEC)
- Briefing: The Outlook for Financing for Australia’s Galilee Basin Coal Proposals (IEEFA)
- Briefing: Adani’s record of environmental destruction and regulatory non-compliance (Greenpeace)
- Website: EndCoal.org
Images and video
- Video to share: “Don’t trust Adani with the Great Barrier Reef” (GetUp)
- Images: Great Barrier Reef (Richard Ling), Don’t risk the Reef (Greg McNevin)
- “Many Queenslanders voted to protect the Great Barrier Reef and they are going to be disappointed that Labor is letting the Reef be dredged, treated as a highway for coal ships, and cooked by climate change. It’s a sick joke that the Labor Government is describing building the world’s largest coal port in the Great Barrier Reef in age of climate change as “environmentally sustainable”. If the Palaszczuk Government wants to protect the Reef and save it from World Heritage ‘In Danger’ listing, it should put an end to more fossil fuel exports through the Reef.” Australian Greens environment spokesperson Senator Larissa Waters.
- “Today my government sends a clear message: we can protect the Great Barrier Reef, and we can foster economic development and create jobs. I am determined to deliver on my election commitments, and that includes no dumping of capital dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef world heritage area, no dumping of dredge material in the nationally significant Caley Valley wetlands, and no taxpayer funding for capital dredging and the disposal of dredge spoil.” QLD Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
- “We’re no fools. We realise that jobs have to come from economic development, and economic development in this state has a lot to do with mining. So we encourage mining, especially in the Galilee Basin, because we know that if the area is opened up, others will follow.” State development minister Anthony Lynham.
- “Obviously there’s no point in damaging the reef, dredging in the waters, if all we end up with is a white elephant or a stranded asset.” Coordinator with the North Queensland Conservation Council, Wendy Tubman.
- “WWF has repeatedly called for a longer jetty at Abbot Point to avoid the majority of dredging,” Matthieson said. “Better utilisation of existing ports could deliver the same economic benefits without unnecessarily damaging the reef.” WWF reef campaigner Louise Matthieson.
- “Premier Palaszczuk’s plans will pave the way for construction of up to nine new coalmines, accelerating climate change and ocean acidification – processes that will turn the Great Barrier Reef into a coral graveyard.” Greenpeace campaigner Shani Tager.
Related Tree Alerts
- Calls for investigation into coal giant Adani in wake of tax haven scandal
- Adani and Australian governments gamble reef, public funds and climate for coal
- CSG, new coal mines front and centre in New South Wales elections
- Study shows keeping most coal in the ground is the only way to contain climate change
- RT @yamapaul: Don’t trust Adani with the Great Barrier Reef: http://t.co/CUHRSJ6Qn3 via @YouTube #savethereef
- RT @Solabis: Dredging in Great Barrier Reef allowed, says Labor http://t.co/z42sJpwOO4 Disappointment #qldpol #gbr #Savethereef #auspol