Sign Petition calling for No New Coal Mines

The Australia Institute, the country’s most influential progressive think tank, recently launched a petition to the President of France asking him to put coal exports on the agenda for the Paris climate change talks in December, and to request a global moratorium on new coal mines.

Richard Denniss, chief economist of The Australia Institute, says “There is no room for more coal mines in a world economy that is tackling climate change. If Australia succeeds in its coal export ambitions, the world will fail in its efforts to tackle global warming”. 

He says “Our research shows that the coal industry doesn’t employ many people, doesn’t pay much tax, but does receive billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded subsidies from state and federal governments. Our research also shows preventing new mines from going ahead would be beneficial to the economy”.

Support The Australia Institute’s petition at www.nonewcoalmines.org.au

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Mining SEPP amendments now proposed by Planning Minister Stokes needing public support.

In our last communication we told you that, soon after his visit to the Hunter Valley on 1 June , Planning Minister Rob Stokes indicated that he might put out an amended draft mining SEPP as soon as possible, and he would expect the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) to take it into account when it came to deciding the fate of Bulga, under threat from a proposed expansion of Rio Tinto’s Warkworth Mine. We asked you to send letters to Stokes, urging him to act quickly, before the PAC decision was made.

If that review were to re-instate equal consideration of social and environmental impacts with economic ones, as required by the previous SEPP, it would clearly offer hope for Bulga. Indeed it is their only hope, the only means by which the community’s values can be taken into account. Very importantly, it would also be hugely significant for other proposed mining developments in NSW.

Well, it’s happened! On 7 July the Sydney Morning Herald, under the by-line “Mining rule change gives hope to communities” said that Planning Minister Stokes would release that day a proposed amendment to the Mining SEPP removing the provision that made the economic significance of the resource “the principal consideration when determining projects”. He said the draft amendment reflects a requirement for lawmakers to consider the likely environmental and social, as well as economic, impacts of any mining development.

However, the proposed amendment is still only a draft. 

The Minister is now under fierce attack from the mining industry for daring to bring some balance back to decisions about coal mines in New South Wales.

If the proposed amendment is to survive, it will need all the support from the public it can get.

The Nature Conservation Council, of which Grandparents for Generational Equity is an associate member, has put out a quick email submission which can be sent in support of the proposed amendment to the SEPP. As submissions close on 21 July, we thought this would be the best way to ask you to help.

Make your short submission by signing this email today.

You can also write your own submission if you wish. A submission is just a letter expressing your thoughts and feelings about an issue, and a personal one may be more powerful than a form email.

Post to:
Planning Assessment Commission
GPO Box 3415
Sydney NSW 2001
 
Email :
pac@pac.nsw.gov.au

Click to read our Latest News – Grandparents for Generational Equity represented at the Planning Assessment  Commission (PAC) meeting on Rio Tinto’s Warkworth Mine expansion at Bulga

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Save Bulga, re-instate the pre-2013 mining SEPP, Rob Stokes

The Battle for Bulga

To print your letter click the link below:

Save Bulga, re-instate the pre-2013 mining SEPP, Rob Stokes

In 2013, the village of Bulga in the Upper Hunter Valley twice stopped a proposal to extend the massive open-cut Warkworth coal mine to within 2.6 kilometres of the town, first in the Land and Environment Court and then in the NSW Supreme Court.

The courts found that that the economic benefits of the coal mine did not outweigh the significant impacts on Bulga residents and the destruction of the rare Warkworth Sands Woodlands with its endangered plant and animal species. The woodland is unique to the area and only 13 per cent of the original forest remains. Rio Tinto has admitted that 15.5 percent of this remaining forest would be destroyed by the expansion. In 2003 it had promised to permanently protect this area, under an agreement with the NSW government, as part of its original 2003 mine consent.

After the courts’ decision, the then Minister for Resources Chris Hartcher promptly altered the mining State Environment Planning Policy (SEPP) to make economic benefits the most important consideration in planning decisions, outweighing social and environmental impacts.

In fact, the Court had previously found Rio Tinto’s economic modeling deficient in many ways, including its methodology that over-estimated the benefits of the mine.

After the SEPP alteration, the mining company reapplied, and now the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC), a group of 3 people whose decisions cannot be appealed, has recommended that it be given approval, and the town moved.

A recent visit to Bulga by Premier Mike Baird and Planning Minister Rob Stokes has alerted them to the fact that the expansion of coal mining in the Hunter Valley is now one of the most contentious issues in the state, with leaked documents from the Office of Environment and Heritage showing that 16 new or expanded open-cut mines are under consideration for the Hunter Valley in the next 25 years. These would dwarf existing mines, and cover an area of 45,000 hectares, about 18 times the size of Sydney.

Soon after his visit, Stokes indicated that he might put out a draft mining SEPP as soon as possible and he would expect the PAC to take it into account when it came to deciding the fate of Bulga. The new SEPP is expected to return to the pre-2013 position which gives equal weight to economic, environmental and social impacts.

The decision is due in July.

Please write to Rob Stokes and strongly request that he immediately re-instate the pre 2013 mining SEPP, which gives equal weight to economic, environmental and social impacts, and that he demand that the PAC abide by it when deciding the fate of Bulga.

Save Bulga, re-instate the pre-2013 mining SEPP, Rob Stokes

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What is the Labor Party’s position on the expansion of open-cut coal mining in the Hunter Valley, Luke Foley?

The Battle for Bulga

To print your letter click the link below:

What is the Labor Party’s position on the expansion of open-cut coal mining in the Hunter Valley, Luke Foley?

In 2013, the village of Bulga in the Upper Hunter Valley twice stopped a proposal to extend the massive open-cut Warkworth coal mine to within 2.6 kilometres of the town, first in the Land and Environment Court and then in the NSW Supreme Court.

The courts found that that the economic benefits of the coal mine did not outweigh the significant impacts on Bulga residents and the destruction of the rare Warkworth Sands Woodlands with its endangered plant and animal species. The woodland is unique to the area and only 13 per cent of the original forest remains. Rio Tinto has admitted that 15.5 percent of this remaining forest would be destroyed by the expansion. In 2003 it had promised to permanently protect this area, under an agreement with the NSW government, as part of its original 2003 mine consent.

After the courts’ decision, the then Minister for Resources Chris Hartcher promptly altered the mining State Environment Planning Policy (SEPP) to make economic benefits the most important consideration in planning decisions, outweighing social and environmental impacts.

In fact, the Court had previously found Rio Tinto’s economic modeling deficient in many ways, including its methodology that over-estimated the benefits of the mine.

After the SEPP alteration, the mining company reapplied, and now the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC), a group of 3 people whose decisions cannot be appealed, has recommended that it be given approval, and the town moved.

A recent visit to Bulga by Premier Mike Baird and Planning Minister Rob Stokes has alerted them to the fact that the expansion of coal mining in the Hunter Valley is now one of the most contentious issues in the state, with leaked documents from the Office of Environment and Heritage showing that 16 new or expanded open-cut mines are under consideration for the Hunter Valley in the next 25 years. These would dwarf existing mines, and cover an area of 45,000 hectares, about 18 times the size of Sydney.

Soon after his visit, Stokes indicated that he might put out a draft mining SEPP as soon as possible and he would expect the PAC to take it into account when it came to deciding the fate of Bulga. The new SEPP is expected to return to the pre-2013 position which gives equal weight to economic, environmental and social impacts.

The decision is due in July.

Please write to Luke Foley  to ask him to inform us urgently of the Labor Party’s position on the expansion of open-cut coal mining in the Hunter Valley.

What is the Labor Party’s position on the expansion of open-cut coal mining in the Hunter Valley, Luke Foley?

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What is Labor’s policy on Australia’s increasing dependence on fossil fuel exports, Bill Shorten. May 2015

The United Nations top climate negotiator warns that Australia will need to diversify its economy as the world grapples with global warming but the Abbott government continues to steer our economy into increasing dependence on the export of fossil fuels.

To print your letter click the link below:

What is Labor’s policy on Australia’s increasing dependence on fossil fuel exports Bill Shorten May 2015.

The United Nations top climate negotiator Christiana Figueres, speaking at a recent conference in Melbourne, warned that Australia would need to diversify its economy as the world grapples with global warming.   She said that Australia had previously benefited itself and the world from large fossil fuel endowments, but that point in history had come to an end. “The science is very clear, there is no space for any new coal” she said (Sydney Morning Herald 5.5.15).

If the world is to limit global warming to less than the internationally agreed goal of 2 degrees, the Climate Council has stated that more than 90 per cent of Australian coal would need to be left unburnt.

However, the chief economist of the federal Department of Industry and Science Mark Cully stated in a recent speech that the resources boom, now entering the production stage, is set to last far longer than the earlier stages of the mining boom “barring major policy adjustments”, due to ever-increasing demand from the emerging economies of Asia.

Cully predicts that Asia’s consumption of resources will grow by volumes that far outweigh whatever is happening in rich Western countries (Sydney Morning Herald 2.5.15). He sees Australia playing an important role in meeting this increased demand for both steaming coal and natural gas, becoming the world’s largest exporter of both.

There seems to be no concern by the Abbott government that, although a global export leader in iron ore, coal and natural gas, Australia’s range of exports has become even less diversified than it was before the resources boom.

Deep within the Energy White Paper there is an admission that ‘there is a growing long term risk for our fossil fuel export industry in an emissions constrained future’ but the Abbott government continues to steer our economy into increasing dependence on the export of fossil fuels, recklessly gambling with the future survival of Australia and its people.

To print your letter click the link below:

What is Labor’s policy on Australia’s increasing dependence on fossil fuel exports Bill Shorten May 2015.

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What are Labor’s policies on climate action for intergenerational equity, Bill Shorten? Apr 2015

To print your letter click the link below:

What are Labor’s policies on climate action for intergenerational equity, Bill Shorten? Apr 2015

A Trifecta of Damning Environmental Policies

Three policy papers published by the Abbott government in the last few months have shown just how intransigently wedded this government is to its free market ideals.  They are :

the Intergenerational Report,

the Issues Paper on Australia’s Post 2020 Emissions Reductions Targets and

the Energy White Paper.

Their response, in all three, to climate change is to wilfully ignore it.

Climate change is the greatest intergenerational issue of the 21st century, yet the Abbott government’s Intergenerational Report, released last month, devoted only three and a half pages out of 170 to the issue.

Commenting on the report, John Connor, CEO of the Climate Institute, said “If you don’t have a plan for climate change, you don’t have a plan for the future.  A sensible plan will lay out how we can help to avoid 2 degrees C warming, and include a decarbonisation pathway to phase down our greenhouse gas emissions to zero by mid-century”.

He stated that the World Bank and OECD have highlighted the enormous economic and social costs of warming beyond 2 degrees C and have called for a zero emissions global economy, and that Australia’s failure to plan thoroughly for the climate trends of coming decades would be an act not just of intergenerational theft but also of intergenerational recklessness.

An Issues Paper on Australia’s post 2020 emissions reductions targets, that will be set before global climate talks in Paris in December, was also published by the government last month.  It has been criticised for using a global energy scenario that would put the world on track for nearly 4 degrees of warming, which scientists warn would cause catastrophic climate change.

In Australia, global warming of this magnitude is projected to produce the following consequences: significant loss of species (including within the Great Barrier Reef), dangerous water shortages, severe damage to coastal infrastructure and settlements, large areas of agricultural land taken out of production, strains on the capacity to meet food demand, and major risks to human life from extreme climate events.

Next to come was the Abbott government’s Energy White Paper, released in early April.  Described by the Climate Institute as “wilfully deluded”, incredibly it mentions climate change only once.

The Sydney Morning Herald editorial on 13.4.15 was scathing of the Paper, stating that:

“The omission renders the document deeply flawed”, and that

“Australia’s White Paper is a highly political document.”

“The burning of fossil fuels is the world’s single most important contributor to greenhouse gases and therefore to climate change.  Yet the White Paper virtually ignores this link that is central to its subject.”

“The White Paper’s approach is that of the classic free-marketeer: governments should not intervene to modify energy consumers’ behaviour”.

The Paper argues that no single energy source should be prioritised over another, and that such decisions should be left for the market to determine.

It also stands by the government’s efforts to slash the Renewable Energy Target by 40 per cent, which have caused the loss of over 2,000 clean energy jobs in the past two years; and its intention to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

The Climate Institute described the White Paper as “a wilfully deluded document, whose recommendations side-step the challenges and opportunities facing our energy sector in a world of cleaner, smarter energy systems”.

In view of the above, we have decided that it is pointless to send any further letters to the Abbott government and now impossible to vote for it. We will put together a letter to let it know of this decision and send it to you shortly.

For now, we will concentrate instead on asking, with urgency, that the Labor government commit to policies at its Annual Conference in July that will result in effective action on climate change.

To print your letter click the link below:

What are Labor’s policies on climate action for intergenerational equity, Bill Shorten? Apr 2015

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Make Tony Abbott keep his pre-election promise, Bill Shorten

Prior to the election, Tony Abbott promised to keep the 2020 Renewable Energy Target at the legislated level of 41,000Gwh. Please send a letter to urge him to keep his promise.

Make Tony Abbott keep his pre-election promise, Bill Shorten March 15

The Climate Institute of Australia says that reducing the RET will bring power companies an extra $8 billion in profit as they burn more coal, and cause 150 m tonnes of carbon pollution.

Up until now, the Labor Party has refused to do a deal with the Coalition to reduce the Target, and the Greens firmly oppose any deal.

Now the renewable energy industry, in a desperate bid to break the deadlock which has caused an 88% drop in investment in 2014 alone, is considering accepting a deal that splits the difference between their positions. The Clean Energy Council has told both sides it will accept a target of 33,500GW hours by 2020, which experts say would equate to an RET of about 24.7 per cent.

Last week, Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane put a 32,000GWh figure on the table, which is equivalent to about 23 per cent. Labor rejected the offer as too low. It would accept a target in the mid to high 30,000s.

In contrast to its intransigence on the RET, The Abbott government is proposing to make major concessions to the electricity industry in its Direct Action climate change policy, a consultation paper released on 26 March reveals. This single largest carbon emitting industry, accounting for about one third of emissions in Australia, may be exempted from any caps on emissions, because of its “vital role” in the economy (Sydney Morning Herald 27.3.15).

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You are receiving 2 emails, each with a link to a letter for each political party. To find out why we encourage writing to both parties read more…

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Make Tony Abbott keep his pre-election promise, Bill Shorten March 15

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