The Australian Conservation Foundation has renewed its legal challenge to Adani’s Carmichael mine, appealing against a federal court ruling that endorsed its approval by the commonwealth.
The ACF on Monday lodged an appeal against last month’s decision, which found the then federal environment minister, Greg Hunt, was entitled to find the impact on global warming and the Great Barrier Reef from the Queensland mine’s 4.6bn tonnes of carbon emissions “speculative”.
The president of the ACF, Geoff Cousins, said Australia’s national environment protection laws were “broken” if the minister could approve “a mega-polluting coalmine – the biggest in Australia’s history – and claim it will have no impact on the global warming and the reef”.
“If our environment laws are too weak to actually protect Australia’s unique species and places, they effectively give companies like Adani a licence to kill,” Cousins said.
“Be in no doubt, Adani’s Carmichael proposal is massive and will lock in decades of damaging climate pollution if it goes ahead, further wrecking the reef.
“The science is clear that we can have coal or the reef – but we can’t have both.”
The Queensland Resources Council applauded the court’s rejection of the original ACF challenge, saying it was a “nonsense case” akin to holding the Saudi Arabian government responsible for emissions from Australian cars running on their oil.
The ACF argued Hunt had made an “error of law” by not factoring in the impact of overseas “combustion” of the coal over the 60-year life of the mine.
Hunt had found it was “not possible to draw robust conclusions on the likely contribution of the project to a specific increase in global temperature”.
It was therefore “difficult to identify the necessary relationship between the taking of the action and any possible impacts on relevant matters of national environmental significance”.
Justice John Griffiths ruled it was “plain that the minister did give consideration to greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the combustion emissions and made an express finding that the proposed action would not have an unacceptable impact on the world heritage values of the reef”.
Cousins said Griffiths had acknowledged “considerable public interest” in the case and ACF was “in no doubt that we represent the concerns of the majority of Australians”.
He referred to a ReachTel survey of 2,600 Australians around the same time as the federal court ruling showing 81% backed stronger national environment laws and 75% backed environment groups’ right to bring legal challenges to mining projects.
“And 75% support environment groups’ right to use legal avenues to uphold existing environmental laws.
“It comes down to this. The planet-warming pollution from Adani’s coalmine threatens the reef and all living things. The [ACF] does not accept this future – and we will take all reasonable steps we can to stop this mine.”
The ACF awaits a hearing date.
Source: The Guardian