Environment Minister Greg Hunt on Thursday reapproved the construction of Adani’s Carmichael coal mine in Queensland, Australia’s biggest ever which will see around 60 million tonnes of coal exported to India annually.
Hunt first approved the mine last year, but a court annulled the approval earlier this year as the government had failed to take into account the mine’s impact on two threatened species. There has also been strong public opposition against the project amid suspicions it would damage the Great Barrier Reef.
The minister said on Thursday the mine had now been “approved in accordance with national environment law subject to 36 of the strictest conditions in Australian history”.
Coal from the mine will cause annual CO2 emissions of around 128 million tonnes – roughly similar to the combined GHG emissions of Norway and Sweden – although those emissions will take place in India, where the coal will be exported to.
Indian owner Adani has estimated coal from the mine will create 3 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions over its 60-year lifespan.
“With regard to the impacts of the emissions caused by the use of the coal from the mine, recipient nations will need to meet their obligations under the United Nations Convention on Climate Change,” Australia’s Environment Ministry said.
In its INDC submitted to the UN earlier this month, India pledged to reduce the carbon intensity of its economy 33-35% below 2005 levels by 2030. Analysts at Carbon Brief estimated that would lead to a 90% increase in absolute emissions from current levels.
While the necessary government approval is now in place for construction of the mine to begin, some funding uncertainty remains as many experts claim the mine would be unprofitable due to sinking coal prices and lower demand.
“Fortunately for the Reef, and the climate, Carmichael has been rejected by 14 major banks, Queensland’s treasury department has described the project as ‘unbankable’ and no other investors are prepared to get behind a project that needs $16.5 billion,” Greenpeace campaigner Shani Tager said.
“And that’s not surprising because it fails the triple bottom line — it would be an environmental disaster for the climate and the Great Barrier Reef, it would not make a profit, and it does not have social licence from the community.”
By Stian Reklev – firstname.lastname@example.org