Newcastle is the world’s largest coal port and the coal shipped through it is Australia’s largest contribution to global carbon pollution – when burned, it contributes over one per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, almost as much as Australia’s total domestic emissions (ie, cars, power stations, etc).
Australia is the world’s third largest coal exporter and the 14th biggest national emitter (but we are the 55th biggest country by population). Not an enviable record …
The last Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report makes it clear that greenhouse gas emissions from existing fossil fuel infrastructure are more than enough to push the world beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius of global heating compared with pre-industrial times, and that new fossil fuel deposits cannot be mined if we (and 200 other signatories) are serious about living up to our 2015 Paris Agreement commitments.
In spite of its pre-election promises, Labor continues to approve coal expansion and fracking projects regularly, if not with quite the same abandon as the previous government.
The ALP has stated: “We do not accept the view that Australia should wait until there is an international agreement on climate change before taking action. We also reject the view that Australia will be alone in taking such action. A global agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions is the most desirable way to proceed.”
And yet Labor continues to approve new fossil fuel projects.
Chris Bowen has said it would be irresponsible to start placing bans on traditional energy supply like coal and gas.
We don’t need to ban it, just transition from what we already have to renewables as soon as possible. It’s irresponsible to open any new mining.
Rising Tide, a diverse group demanding Australia honours its Paris commitment, is organising a “People’s Blockade” of Newcastle Port on November 24-27, using anything from kayaks and surfboards to yachts and larger craft to stage a “peaceful protest by thousands of people demanding urgent action to address the climate crisis”.
| David Ashton is a member of Bathurst Community Climate Action Network (BCCAN).
This article was published in the Western Advocate as an Eco News column on November 6, 2023.