"This year, the Australian government rejected Clive Palmer’s coal mine
proposal – but approved three others. Over 100 more fossil fuel projects are in
the decision pipeline.
Why are we still approving coal projects when climate impacts are intensifying?
There is, as the International Energy Agency has pointed out, no place for new
fossil fuels if we have a chance of holding global heating to 1.5℃ above
pre-industrial levels. Our existing fossil fuel infrastructure is enough to
blow our remaining carbon budget.
Unusually, Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek and her department were
required to account for climate impacts in a recent decision.
They decided the climate effects did not have “relevant impact”. One of the key
reasons they gave for this was that the emissions from burning the coal from a
single mine will, they claim, have a “very small” impact on warming – just
0.00024℃ over the lifetime of the mine.
As a physicist, this argument does not stack up. What seems like a minuscule
amount of warming to a politician is, to scientists, very concerning. It’s no
wonder environmental organisations are filing lawsuits to try to stop these
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics