Those pushing to ban coal mining in the Galilee Basin have not been able to explain how it will reduce global greenhouse emissions and risk putting “feels right” in front of practical action on climate issues, according to Resource Industry Network (RIN) director Mick Crowe.
Mr Crowe was commenting after the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) called on the Queensland Parliament to emphatically reject a Greens proposal to ban mining in the Galilee Basin.
In a joint submission with the Queensland Mining and Energy Division of the CFMEU, the QRC said it had identified the deep flaws in the Mineral Resources (Galilee Basin) Amendment Bill (Qld) being assessed by a Parliamentary Committee.
Mr Crowe said such a Bill was a direct attack on a pillar of the Queensland and NSW economies, and more directly an attack on regional towns and the people who lived there.
“We must highlight the significant impact of such a blunt instrument to try to address a complex problem,” he said.
A similar Bill is before the Senate in the Federal Parliament.
In another development this week, a New South Wales Court has blocked the proposed Rocky Hill coalmine in the Hunter Valley, with the judge citing its potential impact on climate change as a reason behind the ruling.
“Any decision that links global outcomes to local decision-making without tangible solid logic as to cause and effect is a concern,” Mr Crowe said of the news.
He said Australians were clever people and needed to challenge when people in authority made statements like ‘The project will be a material source of greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to climate change’.
“We should ask – ‘how is that so’?,” he said.
“The source of emissions will be the burning of the coal and the activities in mining it. If we do not develop that mine, does that mean the overseas power station that was going to buy the coal will shut?
“Does that mean because we don’t build that mine someone overseas who needs base load power won’t build a coal-fired power station? Does that mean that someone else overseas won’t build an equivalent coal mine and supply the coal?
“Overseas mines in most cases don’t have as good a quality coal as Australian mines, that means more emissions for the same power. Please explain? Unexplained, anti- mining sentiments threaten jobs and the standard of living for all Australians, we need to understand before we act.”
Mr Crowe believed the Bills before the State and Federal governments were unlikely to go anywhere, but said people putting up such a proposal with such a major potential impact on local communities and the broader economy must be challenged.
“At the end of the day, would the world’s environment be better off if there were no internal combustion engines or coal-fired power stations? Most people think so,” he said.
“But the vast majority of people perhaps emotionally agreeing are not actually open to this option because of the consequences to lifestyle – that is, the standard of living and life expectancy that has come from reliable power and transport networks provided by fossil fuels and the decline in these fundamentals if we fail to provide a logical path forward.
“We are trying to find a middle ground. People talking about banning mining is actually detrimental to a transition to a low emissions-style of living.
“It’s a ‘heart before head’ approach.
“We can’t fail to recognise the huge demand coming from people and families in developing nations who do need baseload power, and coal has a fundamental role in that.
“RIN purely wants to make sure that the broader public appreciates that everyone is interested in a healthy planet, what we need is a practical means of achieving that.”
It was easy to understand the passion behind those calling for bans as a means of protecting the environment, he said.
“But the action they are calling for won’t do that. We understand the reason people are passionate about this. We are trying to bring a logic -based approach to that.”