A MULTI-FAITH NETWORK
COMMITTED TO ACTION
ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Join ARRCC in stopping the Carmichael coal mine

Australia’s reliance on coal as an export has contributed to the further disrespect of the rights of Aboriginal communities, caused adverse health impacts, has destroyed local ecological communities and is ultimately leading to climate disruption. The power of the mining lobby has subverted our democracy to the point that governments are enlisted in support of mining interests.

At this point in time ARRCC is very concerned about the support being given by both the federal and Queensland governments for the Carmichael mine planned by the Adani Company. 

In particular we oppose the proposals to provide $1bn of public money from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) for rail infrastructure, and to allow relatively unlimited, long-term access to our precious artesian waters.

We also want to stand with the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Custodians whose land the Carmichael mine would desecrate. For ARRCC, our respect for the earth is interconnected with respect for indigenous spiritual connections with country, and any actions we take would need to be mindful of their wishes.

UP-DATE: Success! Westpac ruled out financing thermal coal projects in new basins, including Adani, on April 28th. Well done all who campaigned for this outcome!

It has now come to light that Adani has an account with Commbank (which had publicly only distanced from Adani), from which the company withdrew $1.6 million for its Queensland water license. So our question is now of Commbank: Will you rule out finance for the Carmichael coalmine project?

Before April 28, Westpac was the major Australian bank which had not ruled out providing finance for the mine. This was at variance with Westpac policy of “Holding global warming below 2°C relative to pre-industrial levels”. Various organisations, including ARRCC, challenged the bank to rule out financing for the Adani mine (see appendix). This campaign was successful, as Westpac launched its updated Climate Change Action Plan.

We note the complicity of the Downer Group which is an engineering firm which has signed “letters of award” to provide engineering and construction works for the proposed Carmichael coal mine. Again this is incongruent with Downer’s Environmental Sustainability Policy. The company’s website states, “Downer’s sustainability strategy incorporates our approach to managing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with our operations and activities and provides the framework for identifying energy efficient and carbon abatement opportunities. We also encourage and support actions to assist our customers and suppliers to manage their climate change related impacts.”

Want to take action?

Join one of ARRCC's peaceful protest actions in Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne. For information about what is currently planned, contact info@arrcc.org.au or phone (02) 9150 9713.

For actions organised by #StopAdani groups generally, check out http://www.stopadani.com/join_now

Write to Minster for Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF), Senator Matt Canavan, to let him know you see the proposal to provide a $1bn loan to the Adani Group as unacceptable.

Senator Matt Canavan, Minister for NAIF, at senator.canavan@aph.gov.au

Or 34 East St, Rockhampton QLD 4700

Especially if you’re a CommBank customer, you may like to write to the bank's CEO, Ian Narev, and urge the bank to rule out funding for the Adani mega coalmine.

Mr Ian Narev, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

Commonwealth Bank Headquarters, Ground Floor, Tower 1, 201 Sussex Street, Sydney, NSW 2000

More broadly, you could let your bank know, whether CommBank or one of the other "Big Four", that you will move your money to another bank, if your bank doesn't rule out funding for fossil fuel mining and infrastructure projects: https://www.marketforces.org.au/campaigns/banks-new/ 

Urge the Downer Group to rule out providing engineering services to the Adani mine.

Mr Grant Fenn, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

Downer Group, Triniti Business Campus, 39 Delhi Road, North Ryde NSW 2113

Background information

The plan of both Queensland and federal governments is to export the higher grade quality coal to Asia and low grade coal to India. Carbon pollution from burning the low grade Galilee Basin coal in India will create annual pollution in excess of that of whole countries. According to research from the Australia Institute, annual emissions from the coal exported will result in an average of 79m tonnes of CO2. This would be more than the annual emissions of Sri Lanka, more than Bangladesh with a population of 160 million and equivalent to that of Malaysia. 

Globally, this additional carbon pollution could contribute significantly to a rapid acceleration of global warming. Recent extreme weather events in Queensland and NSW are part of a growing scale and volatility of droughts, floods and cyclones. Our Torres Strait Islands and coastal communities are facing inundation. Overseas, the suffering is even greater.

There is a level of risk associated with any level of warming, including the almost 1 degree increase we are already experiencing. The destructive impacts are most keenly felt in developing countries such as Bangladesh, a number of African nations and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The Global Humanitarian Forum, even in 2009, estimated that the health of 325 million people was being affected by climate change, principally because of loss of food security, changes in disease patterns and flooding. These issues were already causing an extra 300,000 deaths per year. (Human Impact Report: Climate Change – The Anatomy of a Silent Crisis, commissioned by the Global Humanitarian Forum, June 2009.) The impacts have only worsened since that time.

The proposed Carmichael mine jobs have been overstated, and cannot compare to the threats to our lands, waters and Great Barrier Reef. We must protect the sanctity of our homelands, and the ongoing livelihoods that depend on our stewardship of our country, such as the tourism and agriculture industries, which vastly outnumber the mine in both practice and potential. 

Moreover, the Adani Group has a reputation for leaving terrible environmental damage, for tax evasion, corruption and spreading misinformation. “I deal daily with the devastating impacts of coal while working with some of India’s poorest people,” Indian environmental justice advocate Dr Vaishali Patil has said. “Adani tops the list of the worst companies I have come in contact with in my work.

The damage that Adani has done to our people can’t be overstated: local fishing communities unable to access their fishing grounds; vast quantities of coal spilled into the oceans and not cleaned up for years, devastating local tourism, beaches and marine life. Adani’s mine must never be allowed to go ahead.”

Current renewable energy projects in Queensland are set to employ many more people for a fraction of the investment planned in the Adani mine.

We have the proven technology to generate clean energy, and to replace and phase out the burning of coal. Australia has an abundance of renewable energy sources, to generate investment, jobs and world leading innovation.

Around the world, the transition is already happening, driven by the plummeting costs of renewables and by pro-environmental legislation in many jurisdictions. As a nation, we have the resources to support those communities who are being most impacted by these necessary changes. Instead of allowing communities to b left flailing, with the political will, there could be an orderly, planned transition so that these communities can be resilient into the future.  

Coal is part of our history and our story, but the time for new coal mines and power stations is in our past. 

Decisions should be made based on the common good, understood in global terms, rather than the economic benefits for one nation. Australia should be considering the many millions of vulnerable people on earth, future generations who have no say of their own, and all of creation.

For further information see The Australia Institute’s paper which does a fact check on a number of common myths about the Adani mine: http://www.tai.org.au/sites/defualt/files/P303%20Coal%20hard%20facts_0.pdf

Some statements by faith leaders

Open letter signed by prominent faith leaders in Australia, released April 28, 2017

"Given the climate emergency that the world now faces, it is morally irresponsible for Australia to allow the building of any new coal mines, coal-fired power stations or other fossil fuel infrastructure. It is furthermore incorrect to promote ‘clean coal’; no coal is clean.

We are particularly concerned about the proposed Carmichael coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin. If built this would be one of the largest coal mines in the world. It would lock us into 25 to 60 years of more coal mining. Not only is this bad economics it ignores the concerns of farming and tourism industries precisely at a time when Australia ought to be leading the way in investment in renewable energy."

Statement by Religious, Spiritual and Faith-based leaders for the first meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA1) during the twenty-second session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22), 10 November, 2016:

“Global society’s continued use of fossil fuels and other extractive industries, while knowing the damage they cause, is ethically untenable. We must deliberately turn away from investing in fossil fuels ……We thus ask our own faith communities for more commitments to divest from fossil fuels and invest into renewable energy and targeted engagement with companies on climate change. We need to ground this work in pursuing a just transition to renewable energy.

Throughout history, our religious traditions have provided support and inspiration during times of great challenge or transformation. We must commit to new ways of living that honour the dynamic relationships between all forms of life to deepen awareness and the spiritual dimension of our lives.”

Encyclical by Pope Francis, 18 June, 2015:

Paragraph 165: “We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas - has to be progressively replaced without delay….. In recent decades, environmental issues have given rise to considerable public debate and have elicited a variety of committed and generous civic responses. Politics and business have been slow to react in a way commensurate with the urgency of the challenges facing our world. 

Statement of the Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils, 5 November, 2015

“Instead of increased coal production we encourage the Australian government to actively pursue the development of renewable energy technologies and help developing countries toward the same end. In the face of overwhelming scientific consensus, urgent action is needed to avoid the catastrophic damage to the earth that climate change will bring if not halted. Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel. Besides contributing to carbon dioxide production it causes enormous damage to human health and local ecosystems.”

Overall strategy

ARRCC is aiming to add a religious voice to actions being taken all around the country to help stop the Adani mine. Together with others, we seek to create the conditions by which directors of the Adani company will see that they do not have the social license or market support to continue with the venture.

The objectives are to:

  • Stand in solidarity with the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Custodians who are currently using legal and diplomatic channels to protect their spiritual and cultural rights.
  • Assist people across the churches and faith communities to recognise that stopping Adani should be a high priority issue for them – and generally, we should stop the mining and export of Australia’s coal and gas. That is, we want to “shine a light” on the issue for people of faith for whom climate is off the radar.
  • To prompt people of faith to write to the Minister for NAIF, Senator Matt Canavan (who is Catholic).
  • By demonstrating opposition to Adani in a number of locations, to show that faith-based climate action is growing. We want to build the spiritual/faith climate movement.
  • Change the minds of Directors of Adani, by demonstrating that they are going to get widespread, disruptive and consistent community opposition
  • Change the minds perhaps of Directors of Downer or the Queensland Government. There are two reasons that the latter may respond (1) they are ALP and (b) there’s an election coming up this year and Queenslanders generally do not want the mine to go ahead.

Appendix

This is the text of the ARRCC Committee's letter to CommBank.

Dear Mr Narev

I write on behalf of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC), a multi-faith grassroots Charity with around 40 religious organisational members and thousands of individual supporters. Each of our diverse spiritual traditions places a high value on the gift of the earth, which we have a responsibility to care for. We are especially concerned about those who are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate disruption, and for coming generations who have no say over what they are inheriting. 

Scientists have made it clear the vast majority of fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground if the world is to avoid catastrophic climate disruption. In particular, new coal projects need to stop now.

Currently ARRCC is very concerned about the proposed Carmichael mine planned by the Adani Company. The enormous volumes of coal which would be extracted would ultimately be burned overseas and will potentially exacerbate global warming as much as if it were burned here. By extracting and exporting coal, our society shares culpability for its harmful effects.

Along with ARRCC’s commitment to limit global warming, our respect for the earth is connected with respect for Aboriginal rights in relation to their country. We stand with the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Custodians whose land the Carmichael mine would desecrate.

We note the fact that the Adani company has an account with the Commonwealth Bank (as reported in www.news.com.au on 3-5-2017), and that the bank has not ruled out providing finance for this immoral project.

It is commendable that CommBank has publicly supported international agreements to limit warming to 2°C. However, this is entirely inconsistent with the fact that your company continues to finance coal and gas projects and has so far refused to rule out financing this mine. It is at least incongruent and, at worst, hypocritical. 

We are writing to request that you change your position on this immediately and publicly rule out providing finance for any aspect of this project. Until such time as CommBank does so, we will be publicly joining those who are challenging the bank.

We call on the Commonwealth Bank to show greater ethical integrity, for the sake of your fellow Australians, for the millions of vulnerable people on earth, for future generations and for all of creation.

If you are willing, a number of us would be keen to come and meet with you to talk about this. If you would welcome this opportunity, please contact us at info@arrcc/org.au.

Yours sincerely,

Thea Ormerod

President, ARRCC