Greenpeace leads war against coal

07 Mar, 2012 06:46 AM
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ANTI-COAL groups led by Greenpeace are calling for the biggest environmental campaign in Australian history in a bid to disrupt and delay the expansion of the industry.

As a delegation from UNESCO's World Heritage Committee arrived in Australia to investigate the impact of the gas and coal boom on the Great Barrier Reef, a leaked document outlined plans for a co-ordinated campaign of legal challenges and community activism to limit mining expansion.

Titled ''Stopping the Australian Coal Export Boom'', the detailed plan says the rapid expansion of the industry - particularly the proposed development of ''mega-mines'' in central Queensland's Galilee Basin, expected to yield 240 million tonnes of coal a year - would have devastating consequences for the global climate. It calls for nearly $6 million a year to fund the campaign. The leaking of the plan to selected business reporters sparked a political backlash led by Treasurer Wayne Swan and prompted mining industry leaders to warn that anti-coal groups were planning economic vandalism.

Greenpeace senior campaigner John Hepburn, a co-author of the draft plan, said he was surprised by the ferocity of the criticism. ''I think they are worried about their declining social licence. We think the threat to the global climate and the impacts on the ground of the coal industry is such a profound issue that it is going to need the biggest environmental campaign Australia has ever seen, by a long way,'' he said. ''We think it needs to be bigger than the campaign against the Franklin Dam, bigger than the campaign against the Jabiluka uranium mine … We are only just starting down that track.''

The plan was developed by Greenpeace and US group CoalSwarm. Mr Hepburn said Wotif founder and Greens backer Graeme Wood, who is named in the document, had not committed to supporting it. Mr Hepburn said money raised would be spent funding community groups to scrutinise proposals and on legal challenges.

Mr Swan branded the campaign ''completely irrational and destructive'' and ''deeply irresponsible''. ''I find it pretty disturbing because the coal industry is a very important industry in Australia. I'm a very big supporter of the coal industry,'' he told 5AA radio.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard was more cautious, saying that the coal industry had ''a great future''.

Australian Coal Association chief executive Nikki Williams accused green groups of a systematic and targeted campaign against the national interest. She said the coal industry was worth more than $43 billion.

''If this strategy were to succeed, it would inflict significant collateral damage on the national economy, on the economies of Queensland and NSW and on the many industries and businesses that support the coal industry,'' she said.

Drew Hutton, president of the Lock the Gate Alliance against coal seam gas extraction on farmland, said it was ''completely unsurprising'' that environment groups wanted to fight coal mining.

Peter Freyberg,chief executive of Xstrata Coal, said ''destroying one country's coal industry is not an appropriate response to concerns about the climate change impact of coal''.

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READER COMMENTS

Ted O'Brien
7/03/2012 7:35:55 AM

Two things. 1. Economic vandalism is Greenpeace's stock in trade. Don't ever imagine that they might be on the side of the farmers, and 2. There is as yet no empirical data which supports the theory that coal usage is changing the climate. Of much greater concern is the currently fashionable economic theory which says that because we have a mining boom we should allow our other industries to collapse.
nico
7/03/2012 8:59:11 AM

T O'B mixes some political opinions, to which he is entirely entitled, with a scientific statement which is simply wrong. The theory that coal usage changes the climate has been understood for more than a century, and in recent decades has been closely observed and measured by many researchers using different techniques, and there is robust debate about the extent and nature of the effect. To deny this is to deny reality - presumably because of the ideological position held by the denier. For a good factual overview, see: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/glo bal/
Loc Hey
7/03/2012 9:04:23 AM

These fruitcakes should be investigated by the federal police. If you look behind the IPCC you will find Greanpeace.
maccahay
7/03/2012 9:32:05 AM

Australians are getting sucked into these environmental campaigns (live sheep/cattle exports) whereby the exporting nation is targeted - being soft, educated (?) and media linked - rather than the end user being a developing country whose standards are also developing. Our industry leaders need to get out there and push the counter arguments until they are blue in the face.
blahblah
7/03/2012 10:42:51 AM

Greenpeace are anti-everything
Loc Hey
7/03/2012 3:31:29 PM

Nico is writing rubbish as usual. There is no empirical science that has measured or observed that the burning of coal is changing the climate. The amount is so small it would be unmeasurable.
Bill Pounder
8/03/2012 9:44:11 AM

Sometimes burning coal makes temperatures go up due to CO2. Other times burning coal makes temps go down, due to aerosols. CO2 was once the most powerful force in the universe, only now to be usurped by the more ubiquitous aerosols. "We conclude that most climate models mix heat too efficiently into the deep ocean & as a result underestimate the negative forcing by human-made aerosols..We conclude that recent slowdown of ocean heat uptake was caused by a delayed rebound effect from Mt Pinatubo aerosols & a deep prolonged solar minimum." http://arxiv.org/abs/1105.1140
Bill Pounder
8/03/2012 9:45:45 AM

It's NASA vs CRU: "A new NASA study has found that an important counter-balance to the warming of our planet by greenhouse gases – sunlight blocked by dust, pollution & other aerosol particles – appears to have lost ground." http://www.nasa.gov/centers/godda rd/news/topstory/2007/aerosol_dim ming.html "Pollution not to blame for rapid ocean cooling, says Phil Jones Research from UEA finds drop in temperature is too quick to be caused by the build-up of sulphur aerosols from fossil fuels" http://www.guardian.co.uk/environ ment/2010/sep/22/climate-science- ocean-temperatures-phil-jones
Graeme Henderson
8/03/2012 2:36:10 PM

How come, Greenpeace can be said to be leading the anti-coal war, when it has been raging for years while they have been sipping their Lattes. And Hutton, self serving self promoting Politician who has never won a campaign in his life. Greenpeace Australia is corrupt to its voting membership core. They need to explain why they closed their toxic waste campaign to cover their involvment in the pollution of Sydney Harbour. This is just an attempt by Big Environment to suppress the new grassroots anti-mining movement, and to save their cushy jobs.
nico
8/03/2012 2:38:48 PM

Once again Mounder has provided references to scientific research, which he seems not to have understood or even read. The point that comes out (if you read the material) is that there is ongoing debate in the scientific community about the role of aerosols, volcanic or industrial, but that none of the scientists quoted have any doubt that global warming is happening, and is at least in part due to human activities.
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Doctor Barney as Deputy Prime Minister is a horror movie in 3D, but it is halloween.
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In some ways you have a point Freshy but not totally. You are right to say farmers need to
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Yeah, that's right, FFS, in the 15th floor penthouse. How nice of you to remember. Are you going