91 coal projects Australia can’t afford

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Feature Story - 23 June, 2013
Greenpeace’s new special report outlines 91 coal new projects planned for Australia and how they drive climate change.

The Critical Decade

We couldn’t have put it better than one of Australia’s top climate scientists, Professor Lesley Hughes, last week on ABC Radio:

"We simply have to leave about 80 per cent of the world's fossil fuel reserves in the ground. We cannot afford to burn them and still have a stable and safe climate."

This news came off the back of a new report from the Climate Commission entitled The Critical Decade 2013. In response, Greenpeace has revealed how 91 new and expanded coal mines planned for New South Wales and Queensland contribute to global warming.

You can read the full report here, but here are the essential facts you need to know:

  • There are 91 new coal mining projects planned right now for Queensland and New South Wales, with production ramping up to 2018 and beyond. That’s on top of the 100 black coal mines already in operation.

  • If these new projects operate at capacity, they would produce a massive 604 million tonnes of coal per year.

  • When this coal is burnt, this would create an additional 1.5Gt of carbon dioxide annually. That’s nearly three times the amount of greenhouse gases Australia currently emits every year.

This flies in the face of what science is telling us to do. The International Energy Agency has said that to meet the two degree goal, global demand for coal must peak in 2016 and decline annually from then on.

Australia has committed to not allow global average temperatures to rise by more than two degrees above pre-industrial levels. This commitment has support from both sides of politics.

From this point on, our politicians have a choice between coal and the world we hand to our children. We cannot protect Australia from the consequences of dangerous climate change and continue expanding our coal industry. Our political leaders have so far failed to respond to urgent threat to the future of the country posed by an expanded coal industry.

The bottom line is this: if these 91 projects are built, they would significantly add to already dangerous levels of global warming. These are the projects that must be halted if we’re to meet our climate change commitments, and protect the future wellbeing of the country.

View the full report here, with maps, graphs and a full breakdown of how Australia’s coal projects contribute to global warming.