The Adani mine is being called the Franklin River of our time.
While both Liberal and Labor governments still push coal as an energy source, there is a growing population who are calling for a commitment to reduce our carbon footprint and meet the climate change targets set by the Paris agreement.
Last week almost 5,000 people filled to capacity venues in Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne, turning up to attend 350.org Australia’s Stop Adani roadshow to rally against the planned mine by Indian conglomerate, the Adani group.
Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine in QLD’s Galilee Basin would be Australia’s biggest coal mine ever and one of the biggest in the world.
QLD Labor just granted them unlimited access to groundwater – over 60 years – from the Great Artesian Basin.
The federal government is considering a $1 billion concessional loan from its Northern Australia infrastructure fund to help Adani build a rail line to service the mine.
Plans to start the project are for August, and the company states that it intends to ship the coal to India for use in power generation. Adani owns very large coal power stations and infrastructure in India, and to some extent the company is planning to own all aspects of the power infrastructure from ‘pit to plug.’
Biggest driver of climate change
At the roadshow 350.org brought together an alliance of organisations committed to working with people to stop large-scale projects like the Adani project that destroy our climate.
350.org co-founder and CEO Blair Palese says, ‘Coal pollution is the biggest driver of climate change around the world and a leading cause of death due to air pollution, particularly in countries like India, China and Mexico.’
‘The science, since virtually all of the world signed the UN Paris Agreement, clearly says that we cannot afford new coal, oil or gas and must wind back what is already in play if we are to keep the world at a liveable temperature.’
Palese says the mine is a dangerous idea for our climate and the Great Barrier Reef, which is already suffering from ocean warming and intensive large-scale farming.
Palese says, ‘The roadshow was about finding ways those concerned can get involved and get active.
‘Along with the attendees, almost 40,000 people watched via live stream,’ and adds that nearly 120 local groups signed up to help stop Adani.
India does not need our coal
Featured speakers at the roadshow included Dr Vaishali Patil from India. Dr Patil has been at the forefront of the fight for environmental justice in India for more than 24 years, including campaigning against Adani’s coal projects in her homeland.
Dr Patil’s answer to the federal government’s assertion that ‘India needs our coal’ was clear. ‘India does not need Australia’s coal.’
As a campaigner against the exploitive coal and nuclear projects in rural India, Dr Patil was insistent that the way for Australians to support the Indian community was to stand ‘shoulder to shoulder’ and to not supply coal.
Representing Indigenous youth climate network SEED was co-director Millie Telford, a 22-year-old South Sea Islander woman from Bundjalung country.
Telford talked about the importance of Indigenous communities engaging in environmental issues such as Stop Adani. She also noted the people at most risk of climate change effects like sea level rises and extreme weather events tended to be indigenous people.
Engagement in renewable energies created self-reliance and aligned with the overarching philosophy of caring for country,’ she said.
Perhaps the most convincing argument of all came from global energy expert and entrepreneur Danny Kennedy.
As the managing director of the California Clean Energy Fund and the author of Rooftop revolutions: how solar power can save our economy and our planet from dirty energy, Kennedy asserts that coal is the equivalent to using the horse and cart once the car arrived.
‘It’s old technology’ he said. ‘Renewables are the future.
‘The market reflects that. China put in more solar energy last year than had previously existed in the world in 2010.’
In fact in California where he lives, 57 per cent of their energy comes from renewables. ‘It doesn’t matter what people like Trump do,’ says Kennedy when referring to the recent dismantling of Obama’s Clean Energy.
‘Coal has been struggling in the market for some time and it will continue to struggle.’ From a purely economic perspective, Kennedy declared coal ‘dead’. Or at least in its death throes.
He also had an alternative use for the $1 billion concessional loan that the Turnbull government has offered up to extend the rail line from the Adani mine to Abbot Point.
‘If the government invested that billion into renewable-energy industry in north QLD, they would have five times as much employment.
‘The Adani mine won’t create more than 1,464 jobs in total,’ said Kennedy, ‘that’s not many jobs for a billion dollar spend.’
Kennedy also cited an Indian energy minister, who had stated that India didn’t intend to be importing any more coal in the next three years. Kennedy believes that the probability of the company repaying the billion-dollar loan back to the Australian people in that instance is remote.
The take-home message of the roadshow was to start a movement and get engaged.
During the roadshow, we asked people to log on to the website www.stopadani.com to either join a local group or start their own focused on three key things: build the movement to stop Adani, shift the politics, and stop the money. The first easy thing is to organise a screening of the new short film Guarding the Galilee: inside the fight to stop Adani coal (www.stopadani.com/film) to tell more people about the issue and then sign up to get involved in either reaching out to politicians to express concern and/or head into your Westpac branch to demand they stay away from the Adani project.
‘Join us and get involved!’ says Blair Palese.