Words || Macquarie Uni’s Australian Youth Climate Coalition
Australia is currently witnessing one of the biggest environmental movements in its history. Millions of ordinary Australians have been taking extraordinary steps to prevent one of the world’s largest coal mines being built on our shores. The Adani Carmichael Coal Mine was approved to be built in the beautiful and ecologically rich Galilee Basin, where extracted coal would then travel 189km to Abbott Point on Great Barrier Reef to be exported overseas. This project largely demonstrates Australian Governments hypocrisy in signing the Paris Climate Agreement to lower emissions, their prioritisation of coal over sustainable industries such as tourism on the Great Barrier Reef, and their failure to acknowledge existing renewable energy technologies and investments into sustainable, long term industries such as solar and wind power.
Why is this mine a horrible idea?
The Adani Mine is a massive coal mine project, in the Galilee Basin in northern QLD. While its supporters cite the creation of jobs and cheap energy, in reality the mine will have devastating effects on the region, including the Great Barrier Reef. Even optimistic reports predict the mine will create just over a thousand jobs – while directly endangering the 64,000 jobs reliant on the health of the Great Barrier Reef.
Any jobs the mine creates will be temporary, unlike the jobs that investment in renewables would create, which would be long-term jobs that will exist indefinitely. Aging coal power stations means electricity from coal is becoming more expensive, and continuing to produce coal-fired power has a massive cost in environmental damage.
Adani has also been given an unrestricted water licence, allowing them to use as much water as needed in the project at no cost. This is happening at the same time nearby farmers are struggling with strict water restrictions placed on them due to drought. The large amounts of water the mine can use will likely lead to tighter restrictions on farmers, which will threaten their livelihoods. Our government is investing in a project that not only damages our land but also makes it harder for Australian farmers.
A year in the Stop Adani campaign
Since May 2017, Stop Adani have been tirelessly campaigning for major Australian banks to rule out funding of the Adani project. Thousands of petition signings from bank customers, along with ongoing sit ins at local branches, resulted in two of the three major Australian banks, NAB and Commbank, pulling plans to fund the Adani’s mine and the railway it needs to tranport coal. One of the last Australian banks to fall was Westpac after efforts were ramped up leading up to their 200th birthday. Westpacs planned to celebrate their birthday at Carriageworks in Redfern, so the Stop Adani campaign organised their own birthday party for Westpac on the street. We had DJs, music, good vibes, and had guests inside at Westpacs birthday questioning their role in funding Adani. The CEO was then forced to get up in front of his most respected guests and explain that Westpac had not ruled out funding the world largest coal mine. Shortly after this public embarrassment, Westpac made a formal statement to rule out the funding of the mine.
After its failure to secure private funding from any Australian or international bank, the Queensland Government stepped in to loan the Adani Carmichael Coal Mine project $1 billion dollars of taxpayer money. This loan would be granted from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) fund, however this left farmers and the tourist industry questioning why they had not received any government assistance, and the public questioning why their money was going toward funding the flailing dirty coal industry.
So the Stop Adani campaign redirected their efforts towards the QLD State government, and coming up to the state election scheduled for November, pressured candidates to vow no public money would go towards Adani if they were elected. This effort consisted of extensive awareness and educational campaigns, letting the public know what was at stake, and resulted in candidate Annastacia Palaszczuk announcing that if elected, she would use her veto powers to stop the $1 billion dollar loan.
After Palaszczuk won the November election, her very first action in parliament was vetoing the billion dollar loan.
Roughly 65% of Australians do not support the mine, yet the government is still trying to find avenues to grant public money to fund its construction. The most recent advancement has been through the EFIC loan – Export, Finance, and Insurance Corporation – which uses public money to fund private companies and projects. The government has not ruled out the EFIC loan, so the Adani campaign is focusing on telling the government this sounds like an EFIC fail, and that any private businesses supporting the mine will lose public respect. This has already emerged with AECOM – an engineering firm working with Adani – having to cancel their 2018 university recruitment talks due to the large turnout of protestors.
With an ever-changing environment and challenges ahead of us, it is important to get as many people mobilised as possible. Adani still has not secured funding, and has had to push back 2018 targets due to lack of completion. We need to keep our pressure up and send a strong message to the Australian government.
The mine is on its last legs, but we still need perseverance and all the help we can get from the public to stand together and fight. If you would like to join the movement, sign up at www.stopadani.com. Follow or sign up to AYCC North Shore and Macquarie and get involved with like minded individuals in our local and state actions!