The Climate Council is inviting members of the Australian scientific community to sign the below open letter in support of the Environment Council of Central Queensland’s legal intervention.
The challenge focuses on how the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) – Australia’s main environmental law – considers the impact of fossil fuel projects. To date, when considering new coal and gas projects, federal environment ministers do not consider the impacts of emissions and climate change on ‘matters of national environmental significance.’ All coal and gas projects harm our world heritage areas, precious species and vital natural resources.
It is no longer tenable for the Minister to simply ignore the damage these projects do.
The case could halt the progress of a number of existing coal and gas projects and possibly put a stop to future ones.
The open letter was delivered to Federal Environment Minister, The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, on the 30th August, 2022. Special thanks to all who signed. We look forward to receiving her reply.
To: The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP
Australian Minister for Environment and Water
Dear Minister Plibersek,
Australian scientists call on our Federal Environment Minister to confront and respond to our shared climate reality by heeding the irrefutable scientific evidence and warnings when assessing coal and gas projects.
As scientists, we not only study but have a deep connection with and affection for Australia’s living wonders. Our research is founded on expert analysis, data and rigorous examination of the facts. We ask that leader’s decisions are likewise embedded in science.
In support of the Environment Council of Central Queensland’s legal intervention to protect Australia’s living wonders from climate damage, we are calling on the Australian Government to heed the scientific evidence on climate change when considering how proposals for new coal and gas projects will harm thousands of matters of national environmental significance (MNES) protected under Part 3 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth).
According to the UN IPCC, the science is unequivocal. From megafires to ocean heatwaves and acidification, extensive coral bleaching, drought, and extreme rainfall and flooding events, we are now seeing and suffering through the scientifically predicted impacts of climate change across the country. These changes are compounding existing threats and creating new threats to matters of national environmental significance.
Every tonne of greenhouse gas emissions and fraction of a degree of warming is a blow to the health of our ecosystems and economy. Any new coal or gas project will dangerously worsen climate change, which is already having major impacts for many natural systems, with some experiencing, or at risk of, irreversible change.
The science is clear, extracting fossil fuels is detrimental to Indigenous health and wellbeing. Fossil fuel exploitation increases local risks such as air, water, and land pollution. Scarring of the land and loss of access to Country is a direct threat to spiritual and cultural wellbeing, challenging the sustainability of cultures and communities living on their traditional lands. Indigenous presence on Country is essential for conducting Indigenous science based land management practice that reverse the impacts of climate change.
At risk are lives, livelihoods and the ecosystems that we depend on. Some of our most precious icons may be lost: the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu, the Tarkine and Otways, giant kelp forests and the living cultural heritage of First Nations people.
Iconic and extraordinary species including koalas, green turtles, bilbies, dugongs, platypuses, Tasmanian devils and the Wollemi pine, are all under threat and we’ve documented the extinction of others. The species, ecosystems, and cultural heritage protected under the EPBC Act are all damaged when projects that accelerate climate change are approved.
We, as pre-eminent scientists named below, are jointly calling on the Environment Minister to accept our shared climate reality, heed the science and ensure all environmental assessments of new gas and coal projects are responsible and evidence-based, and include scope 3 emissions from all projects.
The fate of Australia’s living wonders – and all of the unique animals, plants, ecosystems and places we love – depends on it.
Professor Tim Flannery – Chief Councillor, Climate Council of Australia
Bill Hare – Adjunct Professor, Murdoch University
Professor Euan Ritchie – Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University
Professor Anne Poelina – Nulungu Institute Research, University of Notre Dame, WA
Professor Gretta Pecl – Professor of Climate Change Ecology, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, and Director, Centre for Marine Socioecology at the University of Tasmania
Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg – ARC Centre for Excellence in Coral Reef Studies, University of Queensland
Professor Sharon Robinson – Professor of Climate Change Biology and Executive Director Global Challenges Program, University of Wollongong
Professor Brendan Wintle – Professor of Conservation Science, School of Ecosystem and Forest Science, University of Melbourne
Professor Jodie Rummer – Professor of Marine Biology in the College of Science and Engineering and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University
Perran Cook – Professor of Biogeochemistry, Monash University
Ricky Spencer – Associate Professor of Ecology, Western Sydney University
Professor Hamish McCallum – Director, Centre for Planetary Health and Food Security, Griffith University
Dr James Smith – Fisheries Scientist, University of NSW
Dr Jennifer Sanger – Ecologist and Science Communicator, The Tree Projects
Prof John Wiseman – Senior Research Fellow, Melbourne Climate Futures, The University of Melbourne
Sharee McCammon – Molecular Biologist, Central Science Laboratory, University of Tasmania
Janice Baird – Principal, Earth & Every
Neil Plummer – Director and Climatologist, Out of the Box Executive and Consultant to the Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub
Professor Hilary Bambrick – Director National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, The Australian National University, Canberra ACT
Corey Bradshaw – Matthew Flinders Professor of Global Ecology, Flinders University
Adam Smart – PhD Candidate, School of Ecosystem and Forest Science, University of Melbourne
Asta Audzijonyte – Research fellow, University of Tasmania
Kevin Taylor – Fire Ecologist, Nature Conservation Council of NSW
Alieta Eyles – Research Scientist, University of Tasmania
Christian Dietz – Senior Scientist, University of Tasmania
Graeme McCormack – Senior Technical Officer, University of Tasmania
Richard Wilson – Senior Research Fellow and Proteomics core facility manager, University of Tasmania
John P. Bowman – University Academic (Professor of Microbiology), University of Tasmania
Dr Julie Harris – Adjunct Lecturer, University of Tasmania
Willem Huiskamp – Postdoctoral Researcher, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
Professor Jason Sharples – Professor of Bushfire Dynamics, University of New South Wales
Caroline Claye – Laboratory Manager, Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
Olivia Woosnam – Principal Conservation Ecologist, OWAD Environment
Lynn Baker – Ecologist, Canines for Wildlife
Associate Professor Sandra Wooltorton – Senior Research Fellow, The University of Notre Dame Australia
Dr Peter Gill – CEO, Blue Whale Study Inc
Jennifer Smith – PhD Candidate, Institute for Marine & Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania
Ella Clausius – Marine Scientist, Institute for Marine & Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania
Dr Carly Starr – Manager, Natural Environment, Queensland Trust For Nature
Shun Deng Fam – Sessional Academic, Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University
Aidan Dudgeon – Technical officer, Institute for Marine & Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania
Mellissa Brown – Principal Ecologist, 4 Elements Consulting
Dr Rebecca Diete – Wildlife Ecologist, Australian Wildlife Conservancy
Dr Hugh Finn – University lecturer, Curtin University
Benjamin Viola – PhD Candidate, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania
David Paull – Ecologist, Department of Environment and Heritage NSW
Fiona Hoegh-Guldberg – PhD student studying biodiversity, RMIT University
Anthony Burke – Professor of Environmental Politics, UNSW
Michael Oellermann – Adjunct Research Fellow, University of Tasmania
Emily Rush – PhD candidate, James Cook University
Gavin Smith – Associate Professor, ANU
Dr Zoe Richards – Senior Research Scientist, Curtin University
Dorothy Steane – Honorary Senior Lecturer in Adaptation Genetics and Rhodes Scholar, UTAS
Dr Megan Evans – Senior Lecturer and ARC DECRA Fellow, University of New South Wales, Canberra
A/Prof Robyn Schofield – A/Dean Environment and Sustainability, University of Melbourne
Peter Steinberg – Emeritus Professor of Biology, UNSW
Emeritus Professor Alan Bensoussan – Engagement & Partnerships, NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University
Kathryn Bowen – Professor of Environment, climate change and health, University of Melbourne
Adrienne Milward – Honorary Professor, Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute
Robert Day – Biomedical Engineer, East Metropolitan Health Service
Nicola Fraser – Marine Scientist, Southern Cross University
Nigel Howard FRSC – Retired Environmental Scientist/Consultant, Clarity Environment
A/Prof Sue Baker – ARC Future Fellow in forest conservation science, UTAS
Beth Addison-Smith – Research Officer, QUT
Mervyn Mason – Ecologist, Dogwood Ecology
Asia Haines – Marine Scientist, University of Queensland
Yung En Chee – Ecology, The University of Melbourne
Russell Drysdale – Professor of Physical Geography (Palaeoclimatology), University of Melbourne
Celia McMichael – Climate change and migration, The University of Melbourne
Candice Boyd – School of Geography, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, The University of Melbourne
Jon Woodhead – Palaeoclimate, The University of Melbourne
Colette Mortreux – Climate Change Adaptation, University of Melbourne
Robyn Schofield – Atmospheric Chemist, University of Melbourne
Josephine Brown – Senior Lecturer in Climate Science, School of Geography, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Melbourne
Mary Voice – Seasonal climate services, University of Melbourne
Mylene Mariette – Behavioural Ecology and Evolution, Deakin University
Sacha Shaw – Social impacts of Climate Change, University of Sydney
Dr Rachel Hughes – Senior Lecturer In Human Geography, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, The University of Melbourne
Benjamin Henley – Climate Scientist and Hydrologist, University of Wollongong
Brenda Dobia – Adjunct Fellow Social Ecology and Education, Western Sydney University
Brendan Duffy – Engineering Geologist, The University of Melbourne and GHD
Dr Lisa-ann Gershwin – Jellyfish impacts in changing oceans, Chief Scientist at Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Services
Tony Eales – Anthropologist, QSNTS