Gregory Crinum Coal mine- Tanya Plibersek

Flaunting its self-awarded credentials of being perhaps the most virtuous climate conscious government on the planet, the Albanese Government has approved an extension to the Gregory Crinum coal mine in Central Queensland’s Bowen Basin until 2073.

The approval was granted under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC), Australia’s key national environmental law, which doesn’t currently deal with climate change, the main threat to Australia’s environment.

The Great Barrier Reef, which the government recently committed to protect following a United Nations ruling on its ‘in danger’ status, is located in the region near the extension site.

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) has described it as reckless and inappropriate.

“Following the hottest July on record, as we’ve watched climate change wreaking havoc in Canada, Hawaii, Greece and Italy – and with Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology warning of a dangerous spring and summer ahead of us – it beggars belief that the government would approve a 50-year coal mine extension,” said ACF’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy.

“With the UN Secretary General recently warning the world has entered the era of global boiling, approving a coal mine that could be shipping coal to be burnt through to 2073 is reckless and completely inappropriate.”

No matter where in the world this coal is burnt, it fuels global warming and harms nature and people in Australia – things that are the responsibility of the Australian government.

“The fact that this coal mine – along with recent approvals of coal mines at Isaac River and Ensham – has been approved under our national environment law, highlights again how that law needs urgent reform,” Kelly O’Shanassy added.

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act which has been used time and time again to grant approvals, lacks any explicit requirement to account for the contribution new projects make to climate change.

In view of the Gregory Crinum coal mine extension, all experts are of the view that it is time to change the law.

‘’We should not be approving new coal mines in Queensland. The approval of this coal mine under the EPBC act demonstrates the inadequacy of our current biodiversity protection laws,” Dave Copeman, Queensland Conservation Council director said.

“It highlights the failure of our laws to properly protect people from out-of-control climate change. Nothing in this approval notice manages the methane that will leach out of this site. We need stronger climate regulation and better biodiversity protection, mine approvals like this demonstrate our laws are currently inadequate.

Climate Council Head of Advocacy, Dr Jennifer Rayner, said: “The Albanese Government seems to work at two speeds: a go slow on environmental protection but green lights all the way for fossil fuels.” 

Climate Council CEO, Amanda McKenzie, said: “Our environment is declining at an alarming rate due to global warming. 

“The Albanese Government has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to arrest this decline. Strengthening our national environment law – with climate at the heart of it – will safeguard our health, grow the economy, and protect our treasured natural places.

“This latest coal mine approval shows our environment laws are absolutely broken. Climate change is the biggest risk to the environment and to all of us.” 

Worried experts are urging the Federal Minister Tanya Plibersek to stop approving new fossil fuel projects immediately.

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