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Climate change, greed and lies – raising the dead in the Galilee

By Mike Mizzi

This week saw the approval, again, of the Adani coal project in the Galilee Basin: an open cut monstrosity that deems turning one of Queensland’s most bio-diverse regions into a great big coal hole as sound economic policy.

It is difficult remaining objective about a subject like this. In fact the amount of angst and downright anger the Australian people are beginning to have with extractive energy. We have seen a Chinchilla farmer, George Bender, a community activist and well-loved member of the local community commit suicide as Origin Energy dried up his wells and made his life on the land unbearable. Needless to say, locals are furious and so they should be. A man has killed himself in despair over the greed filled desire by Origin Energy to tap eighteen gas wells on his property. I buy power off Origin, but as of today they have lost my custom.

But let’s get back to Adani’s mega coal mine. The Greens have been vociferous against this mine, while having won a court case to stop it they were confident the government would abide by the umpire’s decision, but not if you are Greg Hunt, the Minister for the Environment.

The Climate Council’s latest report on the Galilee, titled Galilee Basin-Unburnable Coal calculates that if all of the Galilee Basin coal was burned, an estimated 705 million tonnes of CO2 would be released each year – more than 1.3 times Australia’s current annual emissions.

The other key findings of the report include:

Tackling climate change effectively means that existing coal mines will need to be retired before they are exploited fully and new mines cannot be built.

  • Burning coal for electricity is one of the key drivers of climate change.
  • 195 countries have agreed to limit temperature rise to no more than 2°C. This puts a cap on how much coal the world can burn. Even under the most optimistic assumptions, only 12% of the world’s coal reserves can be burned.
  • Moving away from fossil fuels means that new energy sources, like solar and wind, must come online rapidly.
  • Any new coal mine is fundamentally at odds with protecting Australia from the impacts of climate change.

The Galilee Basin coal could emit more than Australia’s entire emissions each year.

  • More than 90% of known, extractable coal in Australia’s existing coal reserves must stay in the ground. Therefore, there is no justification for opening new coal mines – the most pressing challenge Australia faces is how to phase out existing coal mines well before their reserves are exhausted.
  • If all of the Galilee Basin coal was burned, it is estimated that 705 million tonnes of CO2 would be released each year – more than 1.3 times Australia’s current annual emissions.

Potential export markets for Galilee coal are rapidly dwindling as the world moves away from coal toward renewable energy.

  • China’s coal use dropped by 3% in 2014 and is projected to fall a further 2.5% in 2015. In March, China announced that it will cut coal consumption by 80 million tonnes by 2017 and by a total of 160 million tonnes between 2014 and 2020.
  • Global investment in new renewable capacity is now greater than investment in fossil fuels, and the gap is expected to widen as investment in renewables surges ahead.
  • Potential export markets for Galilee Basin are dwindling fast. Only India remains a possibility and it is wavering in its commitment to importing coal.

There are increasing signs from global investors that they consider Galilee coal too risky of an investment.

  • A total of 11 international banks have now publicly announced that they will not be involved with any projects in the Basin.
  • HSBC, one of the world’s largest investment banks, has cited plummeting cost of renewable energy and the reduced coal demand from China as having significant consequences for Australia’s coal investments and increasing the risk of stranded assets
  • The $890 billion Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global, the largest pension fund in the world, recently announced it would reduce its exposure to fossil fuel risk by divesting more of its coal-related holdings, sending a strong message to the financial sector.

Despite all these facts Greg Hunt seems to think that he can create economic and ecological miracles in the Galilee. Perhaps he knows how to make the dead rise, too.



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  1. Blinky Ewok

    Good article. The idea of Hunt “making the dead rise” is novel; this would be after his policies despatch us all to eternity i expect!

  2. Daemon Singer

    Remember, Greggy is great chums with an ex Qld drug squad cop, so there is an implication by default of corruption.

    How many weddings has he been to in India?

  3. Keith

    ExxonMobil is a huge company having a worldwide influence.
    Fairly recent revelations pull the rug from all fossil fuel enterprises in my opinion.
    The breathtaking evil cynicism displayed by ExxonMobil is startling.

    An extremely cynical step taken by ExxonMobil has been doing a cost benefit analysis as to when the best time to drill in the Beaufort Sea would be.


    Croasdale, senior ice researcher for Exxon’s Canadian subsidiary stated:
    “The good news for Exxon, he told an audience of academics and government researchers in 1992, was that “potential global warming can only help lower exploration and development costs” in the Beaufort Sea.”

    ExxonMobil’s own scientists were telling management in the 1970s and 1980s about the impact of fossil fuels on climate.
    By the late 1980s management went against the advice of their own scientists. Click on : Exxon The Road not Taken for series of articles.

    There is talk of an official investigation taking place:

  4. Wally

    Restricting the number of mines limits supply and pushes up the price companies are paid for the product, this helps to stop the push to lower Australian workers wages and conditions. Climate change is a factor but as a nation we must maximise the return on our natural resources, they won’t last forever. Allowing idiots like Twiggy Forrest to increase supply and undercut ore prices is not introducing completion to the market it is outright stupidity.

  5. diannaart

    Indeed Wally

    We actually need coal for many other vital purposes (plastics) than just burning the stuff and polluting the atmosphere. There is a win/win – just not for fossil fuel corporations.

  6. Mike Mizzi

    Plastics are made from oil and they are not necessary as most of the things made from them can be replaced with hemp.

  7. Sheila

    The liars in the Liberal Coalition government have approved the Adani coal mine in Qld claiming that it is “morally” right to do so because “hundreds of millions of people in India will be lifted out of poverty” with access to coal fired energy. What they are ignorant of is the fact that Modi has gone green. By 2019, India will be more reliant on solar energy than coal, but the tools in our government are pretending that this coal mine will be good for 40 years. You’d think the fact that no bank will touch the project would give them a clue, but no… They will go ahead with their destruction of the Great Barrier Reef. Visigoths.

  8. Keith

    @ Sheila
    Something I have noticed is that deniers mirror the arguments used in relation to the issues created by climate change where they can. The moral arguments about impacts on our children, grandchildren, or potential grandchildren; is reflected back as depriving the poor in India. How construction of coal power stations plus the construction of poles and lines stands up to solar energy, beats me.

  9. diannaart


    Let me know when surgical equipment, reading glasses, dishwashers, cars et al are being made from hemp, please.

    I agree there are many alternative sources for which we currently use oil. However, we actually do have an oil crisis, we need to stop burning something that not only pollutes but is a limited resource.



    Given that there are massive reserves of oil there is no reason to further degrade our arable land for more of a finite resource.

  10. Wally

    Mike Mizzi

    I notice that article you link to was published in November 2013 and the link to the manufacturers website is no longer valid. Hemp is a material/fabric so I am interested in how it is used to make a composite body. The only method come to mind would be to use the hemp with polyester resin. It would also be interesting to find out the products fire properties.

  11. diannaart

    Good Points, Wally.

    To Mike

    Could hemp fibre be a replacement for fibre-glass, in applications as Wally has suggested? However, fibreglass is simply very fine fibres of glass and, therefore, not relevant to discussion about alternatives to oil.

    I do understand that oil is pressed from hemp seeds – would this vegetable do all that petroleum oil can provide with regard to plastics?

    I understand that transitioning off oil will be a long process – the least we can do now is conserve what oil we already have, stop any new mining projects (which would aid the quality of our remaining arable land) and, of course, stop releasing burnt oil into the atmosphere.

    Wish we could simply wave magic wand, however, that is not possible – we have a difficult enough task persuading vested oil interests that we do need to change. We expect our farmers to change their produce frequently, I have never understood why industries such as mining cannot reinvent themselves and change also. Perhaps their abilities for digging great big holes could be utilised to clean up their own mess.

  12. Wally

    This is a good article (realistic) detailing where we are at with the development of biocomposites.

    Biocomposites are generally defined as having at least one principal constituent that is organic in origin; although it is possible to produce plastics that are 100% organic, the majority are composed of some synthetic elements. Often, a natural fibre will be mixed with a synthetic polymer and labelled as a biocomposite.

    However, it does not appear that the 100% bioplastic bottle is currently available, although PepsiCo and various other soft drink manufacturers have begun to incorporate bioplastics into their mass-produced bottles—such as Coca-Cola, who distributed 2.5 million of its 30% plant-based PlantBottle in the first two years of production, accounting for 68 million kilograms of bio-PET. The companies involved in the initiative have stated that their goal is to ensure that 100% bio-PET bottles are in commercial use by 2018.

    There is such a huge range of plastics in use nowadays it will take considerable investment for biocomposites to be developed that will cover all of our needs. This is where a carbon tax can make a huge difference by providing the funding necessary to bring new products to the market at a competitive price. If private investment is relied upon it not only delays the products availability it also increases the products cost because investors demand a high return on investment in what many would consider a high risk venture.

  13. diannaart

    Terrific link Wally.

    Seems we are wasting many inventive opportunities to transition away from oil reliance. Without direct government investment, motivation and support the old oil dependent industries will simply continue business-as-usual.

    Instead we have leaders who find the sight of wind-farms ugly (and ‘dangerous’) and along with solar-panels do not require any more investment, meanwhile more coal mines are proposed. Waiting on Turnbull here – will he finally govern for reality or ideology?

    Private investment will not take the risks that are necessary without government intervention – while there remain profits to be made from exploitation (in every sense of the word) we will waste what is left of non-renewables, divide between rich and poor will continue and we face a future of climate change beyond the scale of human experience.

  14. corvus boreus

    I do things with plants to fix up bush and such, so I won’t (can’t) go into technicalitiess, but a thought;

    As well as punitive measures like the taxing of atmospheric emissions, there should also be mechanisms established (and monitored) for breaks/subsidies employed to reward demonstratively positive innovations and practices.
    This should apply both to the environmental outcomes in the making and consumption of the product, and to the pure principle of economic efficiency of design (energy input/output ratio, durability/rate of decline, associated wastages etc). Reward those who avoid inefficient, and often downright parasitic practices, like ‘bending’ environmental standards or deliberately designed obsolescence.

    I like the idea of proper efficiency auditing, applied both as a carrot as well as a stick.

    Ps, As a vaguely related aside, anyone noticed the preponderance of grey cars in recent years?
    These have variations in shade (and metallic content of the paint), but lack colour pigments entirely.
    Anecdotally, several panel beaters/ car painters I know have described these various types of metallic greys as exceptionally hard to post-match for repairs/replacements.
    Most new cars come somewhere between ‘mist’ and ‘charcoal’, which I call ‘drizzleflage’ and ‘duskouflage’ .
    These variously mirror/absorb the hues of concrete and bitumen, particularly in wet conditions/dim lighting.
    One factor in road accidents is the visibility of vehicles relative to their surroundings, particularly in wet conditions/dim lighting.
    When road crashes occur the cost of repairs/replacements are mostly borne between the vehicle-owners and their insurers, to the ultimate profit of the manufacturers of vehicles and their parts.
    One wonders, why vehicle manufacturers increasingly choose to paint their cars in different shades of grey?

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