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 proposals for greatly expanded coal mining and associated rail line and coal port expansion in Queensland and especially the Adani Company’s proposed Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project. 

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: Now that 24 banks have ruled out financing the mine, the main possible source of extra finance is the NAIF which could still decide to provide a $1bn loan. NAIF is meant to be independent, but is stacked with people with connections to the mining industry and is under pressure from the Commonwealth Government to provide the loan.

Want to take action?

Despite needing another $7 billion for the building of the Carmichael mine, in mid-October Adani declared construction of the associated rail line will start within days. It’s a tactic to pressure the NAIF to provide the loan.

If this tactic works, it could be the critical piece of the financing jigsaw that Adani needs and we’re going to need all hands on deck to stop the mine from this point on. If anyone is open to coming along to peaceful actions on the ground at various relevant sites, either in Queensland or in capital cities at sites related to specific decision-makers, please contact info@arrcc.org.au. ARRCC is planning to hold a Meditation and Prayer Vigil at a site near Bowen in November.

Climate and Ethics workshop, Saturday, Nov 18, Townsville, to explore what it means to respond ethically to the climate challenge in this time and place. This will include a respectful dialogue about Adani’s proposed Carmichael project.

Climate and Ethics workshop, Sunday, Nov 19, Bowen, to explore what it means to respond ethically to the climate challenge in this time and place. This will include a respectful dialogue about Adani’s proposed Carmichael project.

ARRCC continues to make available a template e-mail to the Board of NAIF. It’s not too late to send a message to NAIF here, and it will go out from your own e-mail address. Feel free to choose your own wording, or write a letter to: Board, Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, PO Box 4896, Cairns QLD 4870

Market Forces has an Adani List, where they showcase all the companies known to be working with Adani. They are encouraging people to tell these companies not to destroy their own reputations as well as the possibility of a safe climate. Among them is AECOM, working now with Adani on the rail line - send them a special message about how appalling this is.

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

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.”

Please write to Mr Grant Fenn, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Downer Group, Triniti Business Campus, 39 Delhi Road, North Ryde NSW 2113

Background information

As Pope Francis states in Laudato Si’, 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 people on earth, future generations who have no say of their own, and all of Creation.

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.  Just a fraction of the proposed mine subsidies could produce more and cleaner new employment.

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.
  • To prompt people of faith to write to the Board of NAIF.
  • 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

It's best to use your own words but here is some suggested messaging to the Board of NAIF.

Dear Board members

I am very concerned about the possibility of a decision to loan close to $1 billion for rail infrastructure for the proposed Carmichael mine in the Galilee Basin. As a person of faith, I believe such a decision would be morally wrong.

Firstly, the project will not be in the public interest. If the rail line were to go ahead, the Queensland Government’s own Environmental Impact Statement fails to identify any other use for the line, apart from transporting coal from the mine. If the mine itself were to go ahead, the outcomes will be morally unacceptable:

  • Violating the rights of the Wangan and Jagalingou people to their cultural and spiritual connections to their ancestral lands
  • Drawing on billions of litres of precious groundwater when Australia is the driest continent on earth, water that could otherwise be available for agriculture
  • Bringing to global markets enormous volumes of coal, to be burned overseas and 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 on the biosphere.
  • Causing direct (through dredging and traffic) and indirect (through global warming) harm to the Great Barrier Reef, over which Australia should exercise careful stewardship. This would adversely impact on thousands of people whose livelihoods depend on tourism.
  • Causing reduced profitability of mining in other Australian States
  • Very likely leaving the Australian public with the burden of a stranded asset as the mine becomes unprofitable, loans that are not repaid and a huge scar on a formerly beautiful landscape. 

I am especially concerned about the contribution the mine will make to global warming at a time when scientists have made it clear the vast majority of fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground. Our generation have a clear moral responsibility towards those who are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate disruption, and for coming generations who have no say over what they are inheriting. 

The Board should be aware that Adani has a worrying track record of environmental destruction, corruption and human rights abuses. Various researchers have revealed that Adani is facing multiple investigations for financial crimes and corruption, and that the rail line being bankrolled with our money is ultimately owned in the notorious tax haven of the Cayman Islands.

The proposed $990 million for the Carmichael mine project could fund a wide range of publicly beneficial activities that do not involve supporting foreign owned thermal coal operation. The potential for job creation by the Carmichael project has been vastly overstated, while the same money would in fact create many more jobs in renewable energy and energy efficiency. Even now, other current and planned renewable energy projects in Queensland are set to employ more people than expected will be employed by Adani, at a fraction of the cost of the mine.

Lastly, NAIF is supposed to be “independent” yet it is clear to all observers, which outcome is desired by both the Queensland Labor and Federal Coalition Governments. Do not be pressured into making a decision in favour of the Carmichael rail line project, when the ethical and economic case against such a decision are so compelling.

Yours sincerely