Wallaby David Pocock and author Richard Flanagan among 61 signatories to open letter calling for the future of coal to be on the agenda at Paris climate talks
Sixty-one prominent Australians, from Wallaby David Pocock to the Anglican bishop of Canberra George Browning, have signed an open letter calling on world leaders to discuss a ban on new coalmines and coalmine expansions at the United Nations climate change meeting in Paris in December.
The signatories are backing a call by the president of Kiribati, Anote Tong, and other leaders of Pacific Island nations in the recent Suva Declaration on climate change from the Pacific Island Development Forum.
The message from the signatories, who also include nobel laureate Professor Peter Doherty, former Australian of the year professor Fiona Stanley, author Richard Flanagan, former chair of the Australian Coal Association Ian Dunlop and former Reserve Bank governor and Climate Change Authority chair Bernie Fraser, runs starkly counter to the Australian government’s endorsement of new coal mega-mines like Adani’s proposed $16bn Carmichael project in Queensland’s Galilee Basin or Shenhua’s $1.2bn Watermark mine on NSW’s Liverpool Plains.
New prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has not repeated his predecessor Tony Abbott’s claim that “coal is good for humanity” and coal use should go “up and up and up in the years and decades to come”.
But when the Turnbull government gave final approval to the Carmichael mine last week, Turnbull’s resources minister Josh Frydenberg used the same reasoning as the former prime minister for the claim that there is a “strong moral case” for coal exports because coal lifts the poor in countries like India out of “energy poverty”.
Analysts dispute the rationale given that a large proportion of the poorest Indians are not on the electricity grid and could be provided with solar or other off-grid renewables more cheaply than electric power. And economists say the future of the mines is highly uncertain without any government action because of the falling price of coal.
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