Lately I've been having trouble coping with the huge issue of climate change, particularly in regards to our government's complete lack of action.
We know that we are at a tipping point, and our actions now will define the future of our planet.
“Climate change is the defining issue of our time, and we are at a defining moment. Scientists have been telling us for decades. Over and over again. Far too many leaders have refused to listen.”
- United Nations secretary general, António Guterres
Looking at the social movements springing up around the world - from students striking for climate action, to the UK's Extinction Rebellion, to #StopAdani to my personal favourites, the Knitting Nannas - it is also clear that communities around the world are taking action on this issue. It's just our politicians who are slow on the uptake. For me personally, it's overwhelming and sometimes disempowering to feel so unrepresented by our politicians, so this is my statement to let them know I care, that it impacts my vote, and to let anyone else with this feeling know:
There are things we can do that have an impact. We can make our voices heard, and be part of the global movement to protect our planet (and ourselves).
This statement covers why I think we need to stop Adani and act on climate change, and also includes a few ways you can be part of this movement.
Why I'm Concerned About Adani
An incomplete list of the reasons I'm concerned about the Adani mine and its impact on the climate, environment and the planet.
Disclaimer: I am a scientist, but I'm not a climate scientist. Everything below is my opinion, based on research and critical thought, and I've included references wherever possible. As such I welcome any discussion or input.
- Coal in general. Coal is the single biggest cause of air pollution in Australia, and the biggest driver of global warming through mining, burning and exporting. According to Adani, the mine will produce 2.3 billion tonnes of coal over 60 years.
- Global warming & CO2 release. The Adani mine will create up to 4.6 billion tonnes of carbon pollution. This greenhouse gas emission will be a huge contributor to global emissions, in a time when it is critical for us to reduce burning of fossil fuels.
Additionally, the mine is right next to the Great Barrier Reef, which is already becoming one of the first global victims of climate change with increasingly frequent severe bleaching events (four times since 1998).
- Opening up the Galilee Basin. Adani paves the way for other companies to mine in the Galilee Basin (one of the largest untapped coal reserves on earth). If all the coal from this one basin was extracted and burnt, it would be enough to bring the entire planet a third of the way to the 2℃ "maximum limit" of global warming.
"Australia’s massive deposits of hydrocarbons were a menace to the planet, and would have to be left in the ground if the world had any hope of avoiding catastrophic global warming. Maybe this was news to people in the Australian government. If so, no wonder they were shrieking."
- Bill McKibben, The Monthly
[For the record, even a 2℃ increase will be enough to cause serious on-going harm to the planet and our way of life. It is estimated it will wipe out 99% of reefs and has been described as "a prescription for long-term disaster" by James Hansen (Nasa, Climatologist). Even 1.5℃ may kill up to 90% of coral reefs and cause damage to crops & fisheries and increasingly severe weather events.]
- Choosing coal, when we should be choosing renewables. In order to avoid catastrophic warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says we need to source 75-80% of global electricity from renewables by 2050 (along with putting a price on emissions, and using technology to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere). Instead of building and supporting more coal power stations, our government should be investing in renewables.
- Indigenous rights. The local indigenous people, the Wangan and Jagalingou, are currently fighting Adani in the courts to protect their ancestral lands.
- Adani's track record. Adani have been implicated in fraud, pollution, corruption, lying, and exploitation. Basically they are not a company we can trust to have the best interests of Australia and our environment at heart.
- Water resources. This project will use huge amounts of water, and the QLD government has granted Adani unlimited volumes from the Great Artesian Basin for the next 60 years. It also risks polluting water aquifers and wetlands, and impacting on endangered species that live in these areas.
- Endangered species - the proposed Adani mine site poses a threat to several endangered species, including the black throated finch.
All this, and it will create limited jobs and benefit for the local community or the state, particularly in a world where coal is becoming less and less profitable. I find it hard to believe there is any good reason that would outweigh all the obvious negative impacts of this mine.
A Little Bit of History
Adani announced their project in 2010, planning to build a coal mine, port, and integrated railway for $16.5 billion, and extracting 60 million tonnes of coal annually. They recently scaled down their original plan to a $2 million mine, with production starting at 15 million tonnes & scaling up to 27.5 million tonnes. They're also no longer building a new train line to transport coal to their Adani Point coal port, but will still have to expand their Coal Terminal - dredging the seabed and dumping sediment in nearby wetlands.
In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a special report (commissioned at the 2015 Paris climate summit) outlining how critical this situation really is, the reality & implications of reaching 1.5℃ in global warming and what needs to change if we are to prevent this catastrophe. The report stated we need to reduce carbon emissions by 45% by 2030, and reach near-zero by 2050. Essentially we need to limit warming to at least 2℃, and preferably a lot less. While Australia signed the Paris agreement, and has the potential to make sufficient changes, current government policy means we are not on track to fulfil our commitments to the Paris Agreement.
In response to Adani's proposal, a huge social movement sprang up across Australia, and has already had huge wins. Organisations like Market Forces helped people shift their bank accounts and superannuation away from funding fossil fuels, and together we stopped Adani from receiving ANY funding (forcing them to downsize their original plan). Over 2 million people and 160 local groups are represented by the Stop Adani alliance, running thousands of protests and events. 22 federal MPs have publicly opposed the mine, and Adani and climate action are shaping up to be major influencers on next year's election.
Be Part of the Movement: What You Can Do
If you agree that we need to act, and that the current lack of action by our politicians is reprehensible, there's a few ways you can make your voice heard. Don't feel overwhelmed or like you need to tick off the whole list - do what you can, every little bit helps.
Donate time: Join your local Stop Adani group or 350.org to support actions they're running in your community.
Spread the word: Make some noise on whatever platforms you have, from social media to your business to a sign hanging on your garden fence. Get creative and saturate the streets with stickers, posters, art... We need to make sure the people who can make a difference (politicians) know what we (the people they represent) care! Make your voice heard.
Contact your local MP: Let them know that you oppose the Adani mine (and want better climate policies) and that it will affect your vote. You can phone, email, or even make an appointment for a face-to-face meeting. The more effort you put in, the more seriously your MP will take it. This can sound intimidating, but you don't need to know all the facts or be an expert, you just need to communicate where you stand on the issue and what you want the MP to do.
Find for your local MPs contact details here.
There's an amazing resource from the NCC here - while it's based on ending deforestation (also a very important cause) it has a lot of easily adaptable information.
Donate money: If you've got some cash to spare, then consider giving it to groups like Stop Adani to fund their community organising projects.
Learn more: For more details on why the Adani project is so harmful, check out Stop Adani's website. You can also get involved in online "Skill Ups" run by 350.org, to learn more about the issue and actions you can take.
Contact the people in charge: Email the people who have the power to change these decisions, like the QLD Premier, Australian Environment Minister & shadow Environment minister. Explain why you don't think the project makes sense , environmentally or economically (there are a bunch of reasons at the top of this page to give you some ideas...). Then call them and address your concerns. Once again, expert knowledge is not needed, what's important is your opinion and how it influences your vote.
There's an email template here (with handy talking points for on the phone or face-to-face meetings) and a list of Labor contacts here.
Labor Environment Minister: The Hon Tony Burke MP | Tony.Burke.MP@aph.gov.au | 02 9750 9088
QLD Labor Premier: The Hon Annastacia Palaszczuk | firstname.lastname@example.org | Inala@parliament.qld.gov.au | 07) 3719 7000 | You could even contact her on Instagram @annastaciamp
Federal Environment Minister: The Hon Melissa Price MP | Melissa.Price.MP@aph.gov.au | (02) 6277 7920 |
- If you're contacting the Environment Minister, andask her to look after the farmers and enact a water trigger for a full environmental assessment on Adani for a water licence.
As an Australian, a scientist, and a resident of this planet, I am opposed to the Adani mine and urge our government to move away from coal & towards renewables, and to take action on climate now.