Let's talk about coal

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Feature Story - 13 January, 2013
Climate change is about as tangled and terrible a problem as you could nominate. Professor Ross Garnaut called it “diabolical”. That’s a good enough word to describe the last fortnight many Australians have had to live through as the country experienced record-breaking heat waves and catastrophic fire conditions.

With communities around the country facing extreme heat and fire, the Climate Commission has confirmed that the heat and fire this summer has been made worse by climate change.[1]

There is some thing else diabolical going on here: at the same time that we suffer the effects of climate change, our political leaders are helping push for the expansion of our biggest contribution to the problem: coal exports.

Today, fourteen prominent Australians, scientists and academics, and over forty community groups, have published a statement daring to name the greatest contribution Australia is making to climate change. These people include climate change scientists, former Premiers, intellectuals and an economist. 

Why have they chosen to speak now when the country is suffering so much? Because silence is no longer an option.

The fact is the volume of carbon dioxide produced from burning exported Australian coal is already far greater than the volume of greenhouse gas pollution we produce here ourselves. Despite Australia’s commitment to cooperate with international work to keep global warming to below two degrees above pre-industrial temperatures, this country is actually rapidly expanding the amount of coal we export.

Despite our earnest head-shaking at the amount of new coal fired power stations proposed to be built in China and India over the next decade, this country is fast-tracking approvals to dig mines to fuel those power stations.

This situation is so abhorrent and the impact of climate change is so terrible these Australians have broken their silence about the issue, and called for the expansion of coal exports to stop.

Perhaps they will be derided, lambasted and attacked. Perhaps they will begin a real debate about what we must do to protect our children’s futures from summers much more terrible than the summer of 2013. Perhaps they will be ignored.

But perhaps, just perhaps, those that have put up their hands to lead this country will listen to them.

Will Australia’s own Prime Minister offer condolence for the extreme weather her country men and women are suffering, but continue expanding coal exports, the biggest contribution our country is making to climate change? 

Join their call. Put your name alongside theirs and we will take your demand to Canberra to let our politicians know that enough is enough.

Let's talk about coal by Greenpeace Australia Pacific

[1] Climate Commission. 2012. Off the Charts: Extreme Australian Summer Heat. http://climatecommission.gov.au/report/off-charts-extreme-january-heat-2013/