The Climate Council is warning of serious risks to the environment, public health and North Queensland tourism, if plans for Australia’s largest coal mine go ahead, according to its new report released today.
The Climate Council’s Risky Business: Health, Climate and Economic Risks of the Carmichael Coal Mine report shows that if the Galilee Basin mine were a country it would rank in the top 15 worst emitting nations in the world. In addition it would be emitting more than 1.3 times Australia’s current annual pollution levels from all sources.
Climate Councillor and climate scientist Professor Will Steffen said the development of any new thermal coalmines, including the Adani Carmichael mine, was fundamentally at odds with Australia’s commitment to tackling climate change.
“To protect Australia from worsening climate change, such as more frequent and intense extreme weather events such as heatwaves, bushfires and floods, the burning of coal must be rapidly phased out.
“There’s no room for exceptions here – including the proposed Adani Carmichael coal mine,” he said.
The milestone report highlights serious risks to human health associated with the burning of coal, with the planned monstrous mine tipped to produce ash content levels reaching as high as 26%, roughly double the Australian benchmark.
“Burning coal is a major source of air pollution. We know it can cause serious health issues and even life-threatening disease in humans. That’s been brought into sharp focus this year with 20 cases of black lung being diagnosed in Queensland.
“In India, to which the coal from the Adani Carmichael mine will most likely be exported, approximately 100,000 people die from coal pollution each year.”
Key findings include:
- If the Galilee Basin were a country on its own, it would emit more than 1.3 times. Australia’s current annual emissions from all sources and rank in the top 15 emitting countries in the world.
- Burning coal directly increases the incidence and severity of extreme weather events in Australia. Increased coal burning will further exacerbate extreme weather, with direct economic risks to agriculture and tourism industries.
- Coal expansion will drive further warming of the oceans, which increases the risk of extreme bleaching to Australia’s multi-billion dollar tourism asset, the Great Barrier Reef.
- Coal is very harmful to health with 6.5 million deaths each year being attributed to air pollution from the energy sector.
- Fourteen major banks worldwide have stated they will not fund the Carmichael mine based on both its lack of economic viability and environmental impact.
Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie said the report shows that the Carmichael mine is a risky financial investment, presenting exaggerated promises of jobs and economic benefit.
“Coal pollution puts at risk the Great Barrier Reef and Australia’s agriculture industry. We can have coal mining or we can have a healthy reef – we can’t have both.”
“We have already seen the Great Barrier Reef suffer two successive years of devastating mass coral bleaching as a result of warmer oceans driven by climate change and Australia’s rising emissions.
“Australia’s agricultural industry is vulnerable to worsening extreme weather events, like extreme heat, severe rainfall and drought. Coal pollution only exacerbates those risks.”
McKenzie urged the Queensland and Federal Government to leave fossil fuels in the ground and moving towards a clean, secure, efficient and affordable energy future through investment in renewable and storage technology.
“Australia cannot afford to risk this critical multi-billion dollar tourism asset on another polluting, out-dated and unsustainable energy source, when a clear alternative is ready and waiting.”
MEDIA OPPORTUNITY TODAY: The Climate Council and Doctors for the Environment Australia will officially launch the report in Brisbane at 10AM AEST.
WHERE: Cliffs Café (CBD lookout) 29 River Terrace, Kangaroo Point, Brisbane