The Albanese Government has approved an extension to the Gregory Crinum coal mine in Central Queensland’s Bowen Basin.
The approval was granted under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC), Australia’s key national environmental law, which doesn’t currently deal with climate change, the main threat to Australia’s environment.
The Great Barrier Reef, which the government recently committed to protect following a United Nations ruling on its ‘in danger’ status, is located in the region near the extension site.
The following experts are available for comment.
Dave Copeman, Queensland Conservation Council director said: ‘’We should not be approving new coal mines in Queensland. The approval of this coal mine under the EPBC act demonstrates the inadequacy of our current biodiversity protection laws.
It highlights the failure of our laws to properly protect people from out-of-control climate change. Nothing in this approval notice manages the methane that will leach out of this site. We need stronger climate regulation and better biodiversity protection, mine approvals like this demonstrate our laws are currently inadequate.
While Queenslanders are preparing for the coming summer, and our screens are full of climate disasters across the globe, it just seems dangerous to keep approving new mines’’.
Brendan Sydes, ACF National Biodiversity Policy Adviser, said: “The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act lacks any explicit requirement to account for the contribution new projects make to climate change. This needs to be fixed. It is untenable that Australia’s national environmental laws allow the approval of new fossil fuel projects that contribute to climate change and harm nature.”
Ian Lowe, AO and Environmental Scientist said: ‘’In releasing the delayed report on the state of the national environment last year, Minister Plibersek acknowledged that the current laws are inadequate to protect our environment.
There can be no stronger demonstration of the failure of the law than approval of a new coal mine. Climate change is accelerating and even the International Energy Agency says that achieving the goal of net zero emissions by 2050 requires no new fossil fuel projects’’. Not available for interview.
GREAT BARRIER REEF
Professor Jodie Rummer, marine biologist at James Cook University, said: ‘’We, as a country, cannot – on one hand – commit to emission targets that will keep us below 1.5C warming and keep the Great Barrier Reef healthy and off the World Heritage “in danger” listing as we promised AND – on the other hand, simultaneously – approve another highly polluting fossil fuel project. These two actions are mutually exclusive. We must choose.
Today it is crystal clear that our key environmental law here in Australia does not protect our environment. If the Gregory Crinum coal mine extension can be approved under our key environmental law, it is clear that we are not addressing the number one threat our environment faces – climate change. The Albanese government needs to factor climate into our national environmental law, as was promised in the last election.
Yes, it’s alarming that the Gregory Crinum coal mine extension has been approved for the Bowen Basin, which is the land adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef. However, the location is not the primary issue… we cannot approve new fossil fuel projects and expect to protect our natural environments and biodiversity at the same time’’.
Climate Council Head of Advocacy, Dr Jennifer Rayner, said: “The Albanese Government seems to work at two speeds: a go slow on environmental protection but green lights all the way for fossil fuels.
“While reforms to Australia’s main national environment law have languished on the government’s to-do list, new polluting projects keep being waved through.
“There are at least 21 more fossil fuel projects currently in the EPBC approval pipeline. Will the Albanese Government wave every one through before it gets around to delivering on its promise to strengthen this law?
“The cognitive dissonance is stunning. It makes zero sense to have one hand claiming Australia is a global leader on action on climate while the other is busy rubber stamping 50 more years of coal.”
Climate Council CEO, Amanda McKenzie, said: “Our environment is declining at an alarming rate due to global warming.
“The Albanese Government has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to arrest this decline. Strengthening our national environment law - with climate at the heart of it - will safeguard our health, grow the economy, and protect our treasured natural places.
“This latest coal mine approval shows our environment laws are absolutely broken. Climate change is the biggest risk to the environment and to all of us.
“Coal and gas are destroying the places we love, the government must take responsibility and put laws in place to stop these damaging projects going ahead.”
For Climate Council, please contact Zerene Catacutan on 0438 972 260, email@example.com