Environmental activists protesting in Brisbane, Australia, in May. Dan Peled/AAP, via Associated Press
While global demand for coal is falling as the nations of the world have committed themselves to slashing carbon emissions, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia wants to help a powerful Indian conglomerate build an enormous system of coal mines in a remote stretch of Queensland.
Burning the estimated 66 million tons of coal a year that the Adani Group aims to produce from six open-pit and five underground complexes known as the Carmichael mine can only make it harder for the world to meet its aspirations under the Paris climate agreement.
The project has prompted huge protests across Australia.
“You can’t have both the Paris climate agreement and Adani’s Carmichael coal mine,” the climate change activist Bill McKibben said. “Full stop.”
Mr. Turnbull has promoted the mine with the same argument President Trump has made to remove what he sees as impediments to coal mining in Appalachia, framing mining as a job creator in a region that sorely needs jobs. The prime minister has also supported Adani’s request for a taxpayer-financed loan of $800 million.
But even one of Adani’s consultants has disputed the company’s claim that the project will generate 10,000 jobs. In fact, the project could cost mining jobs elsewhere in Australia.
The nearby Great Barrier Reef supports some 64,000 full-time employees, but shipping all that coal to India risks further harm to this environmentally sensitive area, already endangered by global warming.
The Adani Group chairman, Gautam Adani, plans to use 60 percent of the Carmichael coal, which is of a higher quality than Indian coal, for his financially stressed Mundra coal-fired power plant in Gujarat, India.
It would be a regressive move for India, which is making great strides with solar and other forms of renewable energy. In fact, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has committed India to getting 40 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
Existing coal-burning plants in India are running below 60 percent capacity, and while increased demand for energy may push them to full capacity, by then, “the price of renewables will be lower than the price of coal,” observes Ajay Mathur, director general of the Energy Resources Institute in New Delhi.
India’s energy minister, Piyush Goyal, was clear: “We don’t wish to import coal from anywhere in the world,” he said. “We have sufficient coal capacity in our country.”
Australia is helping Mr. Adani get what he wants, but it’s the opposite of what Australia, India or the rest of the world needs.
Press link for more: NYTimes