As a person of faith I am writing to ask you to make a clear choice to oppose Adani's coal mine.
Mr Shorten, a copy of this email is also going to my local Labor MP.
Adani has announced that it has the finance to start work before Christmas. For some time you have been saying that Labor will support the mine "if it stacks up". It clearly does not from a moral point of view. Much of Queensland is literally on fire. There is drought across most of the state as well as all of New South Wales. Thousands of children are going on strike to protest for urgent climate action. And today is the day that Adani chooses to declare that it is going ahead. What will you choose?
I am also ethically opposed to your public statement that Australia’s emissions would be “unaffected” if Adani’s coal were to be burned overseas.
It’s true that UN protocols say that CO2 emissions should be counted against the country where the coal is burnt rather than where it is mined. Yet this is a mere accounting technicality and the world currently faces a climate emergency. Australia's CO2 emissions from exports are twice as big as our whole domestic economy. As one of the biggest exporters of coal in the world, we can't simply absolve ourselves of responsibility like this. Saying that the Adani mine would not add to Australia’s emissions completely misses the urgency and the ethical gravity of the situation.
Moreover, it is widely understood that even the Paris Accord is entirely inadequate to the task of addressing the current climate crisis. What is needed is much bolder action is urgently needed, not hiding behind the fig leaf of carbon accounting technicalities.
This is all the more serious because so much is at stake: no less that the ecosystems on which all life depends. To continue assisting with humanity’s dependence on coal as an energy source is no longer morally acceptable. So is trying to sit this one out, by trying to remain neutral and waiting to see whether the mine “stacks up.” If ever there were a time for courage rather than expediency, this is it.
Protecting our common home and all those who live here is an essential value of the major faith traditions. Various statements by religious leaders have urged humanity to shift its dependence from coal.
In his famous encyclical, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis states, “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” (paragraph 165).
On November 5, 2015, the Australian Federation of Buddhist Councils wrote, “The leadership of every nation of the world is needed now more than ever to help transition the world from coal power to renewable clean energy.”
There are many other such statements expressing the same concerns.
While Adani’s coal and rail project are the focus on current attention, I wish to make it clear that I am opposed to all new coal development in the Galilee Basin or elsewhere. Australia gains materially from the benefits from coal exports through royalties, jobs, shareholder profits and so on. We are therefore profiting from a destructive industry, no less than a drug pusher profits from the destructive impacts of addiction on his customers. This position is unacceptable. It is not even a so-called ‘necessary evil’. There are much better industries to back. Australia could become a renewable energy superpower. We simply do not have to choose between protecting life and protecting jobs.
I urge you as leader of the Australian Labor Party to take a stand for the future of life on earth. We are already witnessing more bushfires, droughts, cyclones, floods and the unpredictability of the seasons both here and all over the world. Already we find rising sea levels and the beginnings of the loss of the Great Barrier Reef. We cannot wash our hands of the responsibility for what our coal does overseas.
I urge you to accept that Australia has moral responsibility to do all within our power to protect the earth from an unstable, warming climate. This means opposing all new coal mines. It is time for political leadership.
There are many ways you could do this. All it takes is moral courage. The most obvious way is to review Adani's approvals under the EPBC Act.
Will you now commit to stopping this mine, once and for all?