Government Wins the Right to Ignore Climate Risk of Gas and Coal Projects

Australia Institute

The Australia Institute estimates that if approved the Narrabri and Mount Pleasant mines will result in over 1.3 billion tonnes of lifetime emissions, the equivalent of running an average coal power station for 194 years, according to the Australia Institute’s Coal Mine Tracker.

Key points:

  • Federal Court decision confirms that climate change cannot be considered for projects being assessed under existing federal environmental laws
  • The Living Wonders Case was brought by Environmental Justice Australia on behalf of the Environment Council of Central Queensland. If successful it would have enabled the Environment Minister to consider the climate impacts on endangered species and ecosystems when assessing fossil fuel projects
  • Instead, today’s decision means Narrabri and Mount Pleasant mines are likely to be rapidly approved paving the way for another 11 gas and coal project approvals in quick succession
  • Australia has over 110 fossil fuel projects in development, that would result in 4.8 billion tonnes of emissions

“Less than a month after Australia promoted its climate policies on the world stage at the UN Climate Ambition Summit, coal mines are winning federal environmental law cases,” said Rod Campbell, Research Director at the Australia Institute.

“This decision will open the floodgates for huge numbers of new gas and coal mine approvals, with emissions outputs that far exceed what is required to avoid catastrophic climate change.

“The Australian Government has shown minimal interest in wanting to reform its environmental protection laws to acknowledge the environmental threat of climate change.

“If the Australian Government was serious about its climate responsibilities, refusing to even acknowledge climate change as an environmental risk is a peculiar way to show it.” said Rod Campbell.

/Public Release. View in full here.