10 December 2013

Crunch time for Victorian government on coal exports

Right now, the Victorian  Government is charging forward with plans to develop a major new brown coal export industry in the state.

If these plans go ahead, up to 13 billion tonnes of brown coal could be handed over to coal companies to be dug up, hauled across the state, and shipped to China and India for burning.

The devastating impact would stretch from fertile farmland in Gippsland where the coal is buried, to protected marine zones beside Wilsons Promontory or Philip Island where it would be shipped from major new ports.

And the massive pollution from burning all that coal would tear away our hopes of stopping runaway climate change.

As part of the campaign to keep Victoria's dirty brown coal in the ground, a rally was held on Parliament House steps today to take the message to Victoria's politicians, who are in session this week.

As one of the speakers at today's rally, here's the text of my remarks:
We are here today because our climate scientists are telling us that to have a habitable and biodiverse planet, we have to keep fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas in the ground.
Our climate is already hotter and more extreme. This year Australia has the experienced the hottest day, week, and month on record.  2013 is likely to be the hottest year on record in Australia.
In recent years, Australia has had a record two years of rain, repeated 1-in-a-100-year floods, and extreme bush fires in Victoria and Tasmania, and an extraordinary out-of-season bushfire in NSW this spring.
These events teach us that climate change is now, not in some distant future. These extreme events are a glimpse of our future on a hot planet.
Climate change is already dangerous, as we see in the Arctic, on the Barrier reef, in the Phillipines with Cyclone Haiyan, and in the low-lying small nations of the Pacific.
On the present emissions trajectory, we are heading towards four degrees of warming this century. Most of Australia would experience extreme events of over 50 degrees. Remember Black Saturday was 47 degrees!
Our leading scientists say that four degrees or warming is incompatible with the preservation and development of human civilisation.
Nations aim to keep global warming to two degrees, but our our scientists tells us that two degrees is the threshold between  dangerous and very dangerous climate change.
Yet to to limit warming to two degrees, emissions reductions for high-polluting countries such as Australia are now from 6-10% a year, starting now.
We cannot negotiate with the climate system, instead we must to act to rapidly reduce our global arming emissions.  
But the Victorian government wants to hand up to up to 13 billion tonnes of brown coal for export and burning.
Now they have a choice.
They can can protect the Victorian people and their way of life, their land and farms, their water and food security by keeping fossil fuels such as coal and coal seam gas in the ground and build the clean, renewable economy. 
Or they can head into a dirty, export coal rush.
They can't do both.
If they are so foolish as to put dirty brown coal exports above the well-being and future of  the Victorian people, let's us make sure they pay a high political price.
For more information on the campaign, check here.

David Spratt