Press Release - February 8, 2023

Keeping coal in the ground the right move, but Minister must consider catastrophic climate impacts for scores of pending proposals

February 8, 2023

The Environment Council of Central Queensland welcomes Tanya Plibersek’s refusal of a Clive Palmer-backed coal mine but says the climate impacts of other pending proposals on the Great Barrie Reef and thousands of living wonders, must be accounted for.

ECoCeQ, represented by Environmental Justice Australia, launched a legal intervention in July seeking the potentially catastrophic effects of climate change to be examined for nearly every coal and gas project pending federal approval. Minister Plibersek accepted all the reconsideration requests as valid in November, except for the Central Queensland Coal mine, which was dealt with separately.

ECoCeQ President Christine Carlisle said:

“All coal and gas that stays in the ground is good news for the thousands of iconic animals, plants and places we want to protect for our children and their children to know and love,”

“Refusing the Central Queensland Coal mine is unquestionably the right decision. It means the Great Barrier Reef, and thousands of our living wonders, will be spared from over 1 billion tonnes of emissions this mine would have fuelled in its lifetime.

“But there are still scores of other new fossil fuel proposals on the Minister’s desk.

“Tanya Plibersek has rightly assessed the impact the Central Queensland mine will have on the Reef and surrounding waterways. What comes next in how the Minister considers each of the other new gas and coal proposals is critical.

“It doesn’t matter where coal is dug up and burned – the climate impacts are just as detrimental. That’s why we’ve asked the Minister to consider the risk to thousands of living wonders from the 16 other coal and gas proposals before she makes her decision.

“The Minister accepted our reconsideration requests as valid and is now considering the scientific evidence and thousands of public submissions.

“The Minister has a responsibility to consider the immense and indisputable harm from climate damage, that all new coal and gas proposals pose to Australia’s natural wonders.”

Environmental Justice Australia Principal Lawyer Hollie Kerwin said:

“Our client has put a trove of scientific evidence before the Minister which she was right to accept she must consider. It paints a grim picture of the current and projected climate risks to thousands of animals, places and plants across the country posed by new coal and gas proposals in the pipeline. It is time, though, to face that reality.

“It’s shocking, but until now, Australia’s environment ministers have completely ignored climate change when assessing new coal and gas proposals. It’s time for that to change.

“Tanya Plibersek has a huge responsibility. The fate of Australia’s living wonders are in her hands.”

Media contact: Kathryn Lewis, [email protected]