Insane isn’t a word we use lightly, but sometimes it is just right.
That’s because an array of coal companies are trying to do something really insane right now. They want to unlock nine new mega coals mines in Queensland’s Galilee Basin in Australia, exporting this coal through the Great Barrier Reef. When it comes to size and a stupidity, this is a project that trumps them all. There’s hundreds of kilometres of new railway lines to be built, a new 150 MW coal fired power plant just to power the mines, and the expansion of the Abbot Point Coal Terminal to make it the largest in the world. It’s fossil fuel extraction at the biggest scale, and at any cost. In response, a growing movement of people is standing up to oppose these insane plans (click here to join that movement). Here’s why:
1. It will cook the climate –so vast are the carbon reserves stored in the Galilee that this one Basin alone would contribute to releasing six percent of the world’s carbon budget. This project will put the planet into massive carbon budget overshoot, taking us well past a two degree temperature rise, the red line set by the world’s governments. It’s an investment in climate destruction.
2. Coal is it’s own worst enemy — In early 2011 and 2013, widespread flooding in Queensland caused such extensive damage that it shut down coal mines across the state, and cost millions in damages. Burning the Galilee coal will cause global warming. A warmer climate means more moisture gets sucked into the atmosphere, and that extra moisture gets dumped down in more intense storms and flooding. Those floods will continue to shut down coal mines. Ridiculous isn’t it.
3. Insane amounts of Water – Adani’s mine, the Carmichael Mine, will draw so much water (12.5 billion tonnes of water/year) that it will lower the water table beyond the boundary of the mine by as much as 20-50m. The same amount of water would be provide drinking water to the entire population of Queensland for three years!
4. It’s obscenely expensive and subsidised — The Queensland Government has offered to pay $300 million to build coal mine infrastructure in the Galilee Basin.This is in a state where things are so corporatised that even the police are sponsored by a coal seam gas company. So while the Queensland Government has slashed funding for important social services and police have to get sponsorship, they’re so desperate to press ahead with the mines they are going to subsidise them. The mind boggles. Estimates for the cost of building the first mine alone sit at AUD$16 billion; although apparently the Indian coal giant Adani reckon they can do it for $7.2billion. They have yet to raise most of that money. That’s just for the first mine.
5. Financial analysts know it’s a fizzer – analysts from Goldman Sachs to Oxford University say that investing in these mega new coal projects makes no economic sense. As the world’s largest economy – China – moves to cap its emissions and the coal price continues to stagnate, the world’s best financial minds say Adani’s maths just don’t add up. Which is why…
6. Big Banks won’t touch it – already 9 major international Banks have said NO to the project. We’re talking about folks like Deutsche, Citi, HSBC and the Royal Bank of Scotland – not your typical greenie types in other words. They see the huge risks associated with investing in a dying sector and a project that will cook the climate and wreck the Reef.
7. It won’t solve energy poverty – the Galilee’s backers say it will deliver cheap energy to the world’s poor. But analysis shows that Galilee coal would cost more than local renewables. Increasingly, local communities in the developing world are standing up to dirty energy companies like Adani, whose activities are destroying their livelihoods and locking them into greater climate vulnerability.
8. It will wreck parts of the Great Barrier Reef — most people agree the Great Barrier Reef is a pretty special place. With over 1600 species of fish and 1400 different types of Coral, the Reef is somewhere we’d love our kids to enjoy for generations to come, right? But unlocking the Galilee would see 3 million cubic metres of Reef sea floor dug up and a constant fleet of coal ships traipsing across it every day, for decades to come.
9. Dugongs, Turtles and Birds all hate it apparently – exporting the Galilee Basin’s coal means building the world’s largest coal port at Abbot Point. The port expansion will destroy seagrass habitat for dugongs and turtles, creating a toxic muddy plume, reaching many kilometers, which could irreparably damage the Reef and its glorious coral. Meanwhile, the sea floor dredged from the Barrier Reef would be dumped into the internationally significant Caley Valley Wetlands, home to 40,000 birds including rare and threatened species like this guy – the Painted Snipe.
10. It’s backed by a very dodgy company – Indian mining giant Adani owns the largest proposed mine in the Basin. They also own the rail and the port as part of their own vertically integrated monster mine empire. Adani has been accused of bribery, illegal construction, corruption and destroying protected environments. A first rate corporate citizen, huh?
11. People don’t like it – the majority of Australians think that investing in new coal and gas makes no sense. Over the past 12 months, thousands of Australians have moved hundreds of millions of dollars of their own money out of fossil fuels. And when it comes to coal projects near the Reef, nine in 10 Australians say this is a major no go.
If these aren’t reason enough to stop the Galilee Basin monster mines, then we don’t know what is. Click here to join the movement of people everywhere standing up to this insane project, and people like this (for those who don’t recognise him yet, it’s Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, with what we suspect to be coal between his teeth):