Adani Group announced work on Australian Coal mine without approvals

Adani has made a string of announcements in recent months that indicated the company would scale back its mine, rail and port plans plans, having been unable to find an outside investor

By Mahendra Pandey

At a time when climate protesters in Australia, especially school children, are on the streets to remind the government of its inability to tackle the issue of climate change, Adani Group has announced it will self-finance its controversial Queensland coalmines project and says major works are due to start “imminently”.

Adani has made a string of announcements in recent months that indicated the company would scale back its mine, rail and port plans plans, having been unable to find an outside investor. But several media reports confirm that construction cannot start until two of those remaining regulatory hurdles are cleared. Critical rail and royalties agreements, both which add more than $100m to the cost of the project, also remain unsigned.

The Carmichael mine has become the symbolic battle front for both environmentalists and proponents of coal. The Australian Conservation Foundation said the announcement meant Adani was a “step closer” to building its mine, but called on elected representatives to intervene. “The Stop Adani movement will fight this proposed mine every step of the way. There is too much at stake.” The Queensland Department of Environment and Science told last week that “significant disturbance cannot commence at the [Carmichael] site” until two plans were approved.

Julien Vincent, the executive director of Market Forces, an NGO encouraging environmentally sustainable investment, said “[Adani] knows the window of opportunity to build its Carmichael mega coalmine is rapidly closing” and “It’s also an admission of failure, as the company has tried and failed for almost a decade to find a financial backer and now has no option but to move its unpopular project ahead with its own capital”.

At a time when, the students and general public are protesting against government’s inaction over climate change, it would be really surprising if Adani starts the work on coalmine without sufficient approvals

Recently Australia has been criticised internationally for not obeying the environmental conservation laws. Last week thousands of school students have urged greater action on climate change in protests all over the country. The protests were organised and were successful despite an appeal from PM Scott Morrison. Organisers of the protests say they were inspired by Greta Thunberg, a 15 year old Swedish girl who has undertaken similar protests. Mr Morrison told parliament last week what they want is more learning in schools and less activism. The Resource Minister of his cabinet Matt Canavan angered protesters by saying that they would not learn anything from walking off the school and protesting.

Last week, the UN said Australia and many nations were falling short of their emission commitments. Australia made no improvements in its climate policy since last year, reveals the Emission Gap Report. Australia has committed to reducing its emissions by 26-28% on 2005 levels by 2030 under the Paris Climate Agreement. Mr Morrison has cited a renewable energy programme, a clean energy purchasing fund and a hydropower projects as the progress.

The latest quarterly update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory tells that Australia's greenhouse gas emissions for the quarter ending in June 2018 have risen again by 1.3%, continuing the upward trend in emissions since 2013. Emissions for the year ending in June 2018 have increased on the previous year by 0.6 per cent, pushing Australia's emissions to the highest they have been since 2011. According to the report, the increase was mainly driven by high liquefied natural gas (LNG) production for export and "a 15% rebound in coal production after a downturn in the March 2018 quarter".

The idea of the protests started with Milou Albrect and Harriet O’Shea Carre, both 14, in the State of Victoria. Milou said, “we want our government to acknowledge publicly that climate change is a crisis. Stop digging coal, stop making new coal mines, switch to renewable energy”. Jean Hinchcliffe, 14, says that everyone, all young people, we can see that climate change is a real issue and we are completely sick of politicians inaction. Ruby Walker, 16, says “I feel like Australia is an embarrassment when it comes to climate action”.

It is not only climate action where Australia lags behind, it is one of seven countries responsible for more than half of global biodiversity loss, according to a recent study. Scientists based their findings on the worsening in conservation status of species between 1996 and 2008 on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list. The IUCN red list uses a series of categories to rank how close a species is to extinction, from "least concern" through to "extinct in the wild". Of the 109 countries studied, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, China and the United States (primarily Hawaii) also ranked inside the top seven as the worst offenders on conservation.

At a time when, the students and general public are protesting against the government’s inaction over climate change, it would be really surprising if Adani starts the work on coalmine without sufficient approvals.

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