11 July 2022
New research shows there are 27 new coal mining projects currently awaiting approval decisions by the Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek, as reported in The Guardian yesterday. The research estimates that if the coal mining projects are approved by the Albanese government and proceed, they would produce nearly 17 billion tonnes of carbon emissions over their lifetime. These projects have been referred for assessment under the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. View the research here.
Sixteen of the proposed coal mines are located in Queensland with 14 of these proposals in Central Queensland. If all the CQ mines are approved and proceed, they alone will produce approximately 368 million tonnes per year and 12.4 billion tonnes or carbon emissions over their life span when the coal is burnt (scope 3 emissions). This is equivalent to approximately 25 times Australia’s current annual reported emissions from all sources and in addition to the emissions produced during operational mining (scope 1 and 2 emissions).
Most of the new proposed coal mines in Queensland are export projects that will ship coal out of the country to be burned overseas. The majority of carbon pollution from coal mines is produced from the burning of coal after it is exported. Emissions from burning coal that Australia exports (scope 3 emissions) are not counted in national or state emissions reduction targets.
The International Energy Agency and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have both unequivocally stated that developing new fossil fuel projects is inconsistent with the Paris Agreement target of limiting global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees.
Jono Dykyj, Mackay Conservation Group, said, “Despite global efforts to phase out coal to take action on climate change, Queensland has more coal projects under development than any other state or province in the world, according to Global Energy Monitor.”
“We already have over 50 coal mines operating in our region and these new proposed mines will only throw fuel on the fire and impede the necessary transition for workers in the coal industry. Coal will inevitably be replaced over time; as the countries we currently export coal to make to switch to renewable energy. We need to start the transition from coal now, not open new coal mines.”
“We are so fortunate to have the Great Barrier Reef on our doorstep, but these polluting coal mines could spell the end for our natural wonder which employs over 50,000 people and sustains our tourism and fishing sectors.
“The Albanese government’s commitment to climate action is welcome, but it can’t be taken seriously if Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek approves new coal mining projects that will wreck the Reef and hold back global efforts to address climate change.”, said Mr Dykyj.
Paul Bambrick, Capricorn Conservation Council, said, “This report is alarming. Coal is the most polluting fossil fuel and the main cause of the climate crisis.”
“We cannot open new coal mines against all scientific advice and when there is global pressure for every country to play their part in achieving the Paris Agreement targets.
“Opening new coal mines when the world is turning away from coal will increase the risk of stranded assets and displaced employees.”
“We have seen first-hand here in Central Queensland an increase in bushfire intensity, floods, storms, record-breaking heatwaves and mass coral bleaching events. It is time to take action and start the transition to cleaner energy. The first step is to not approve any new coal and gas mines.”
“The Albanese Government says new fossil fuel projects need to ‘stack up environmentally’ to be approved. In 2022 no coal mining project can stack up environmentally”, said Mr Bambrick.