Environmental groups and activists are insisting that the Federal Government reverse its decision to open a mine in central Queensland, claiming it is counterproductive to Australia’s emission target.

Minister for the Environment, Tanya Plibersek announced the approval of a new coal mine last month, sparking widespread backlash from environmentalists.

Wollongong Greens Councillor, Cath Blakey said that any new coal mine is counterproductive to Australia’s net-zero emission targets.

“This federal government has committed to an interim target to reduce emissions by 43 per cent by 2030 and approving new coal mines just goes against that aim,” Cr Blakey said.

“Because it’s not a problem we can offset our way out of, there’s big problems with offsetting schemes, they’re not robust and they are not sufficiently reducing emissions.”

A spokesperson for Ms Plibersek defended the decision, maintaining that the government had done its due diligence in assessing the new site.

“The Albanese government has to make decisions in accordance with the facts and the national environment law – that’s what happens on every project, and that’s what’s happened here,” they said.

The mine, a development by Bowen Coking Coal, will be situated east of Moranbah, next to five existing coal mines. It is expected to produce approximately 500,000 tonnes of metallurgical coal per year, for five years.

Metallurgical, or coking coal is used in steelmaking, and although it could be said that in terms of climate impact, this new coal mine is relatively insignificant, given it’s product and lifespan, many have argued that the approval of any new coal project works against the countries net-zero target.

This approval is only part of a larger group of pending coal mining proposals, with Ms Plibersek also allowing three other projects to proceed to the next stage of environmental assessment, including the controversial expansion of the Mount Pleasant mine in NSW.

Australia has committed to net-zero emissions by 2050 as part of the Paris Agreement, however, in 2021-22, Australia produced 422 million tonnes of coal, resulting in 1.1 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

In speaking with The Guardian, research director at the Australia Institute, Rod Campbell said that even one new coal mine could result in devastating effects.

“Scientists, energy and climate experts have said that the climate cannot afford new coal mines, and they’ve said it so many times I’ve lost count,” Mr Campbell said.

“The fact that this is a small coking coal mine is beside the point – fossil carbon needs to stay in the ground. We’ve already got more than enough coal mines approved to cook the planet, including coking coal mines that could run into next century.”

The Labor Government has increased renewable energy approvals to a record high since their election and have rejected mining proposals on the grounds of damage to water resources.

Under the current government fossil fuel subsidies have soared to a record $57.1 billion. Examples of these fossil fuel subsidies include $1.9 billion in federal money spent on the Middle Arm petrochemical hub in Darwin, $21 million spent by the Queensland State Government on the Meandu Mine, and a $200 million a year spend on mineral and petroleum industries in New South Wales.

Cr Blakey said that these decisions will have far reaching effects, beyond our own borders, including the Pacific Islands where climate action has become essential for security, economic and social welfare reasons.

“Pacific Island ministers are working with Australia to partner for the 2031 International Conference of the Parties (COP), the big climate negotiations, so they recognised Australia is that as a partner in in climate action but are just appalled that Australia was still approving new coal mines, as well as continuing to subsidise fossil fuels, and they were calling for stronger action,” Cr Blakey said.

“They [Pacific Island Ministers] were also critical of the fact that Australia’s security posturing is moving to invest in long range capabilities, with more missiles and nuclear submarines, and they highlighted that the greatest threat to security is climate change.”


Feature Image: ABC News