Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Adani’s ruthless aggression exposed in leaked “attack dog” plan

Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners say an explosive ABC report this morning has revealed the corruption of process and the intimidation being engaged in by Adani’s new legal team. They say Adani are trying to silence its opponents and build political pressure to push its Carmichael project through. (ABC News story here). 

The Traditional Owners say they are clearly targeted in Adani’s “attack dog plan” and that Adani’s new law firm, AJ&Co, is running a malicious strategy to take down Adani’s critics, including the W&J Council’s senior spokesperson Adrian Burragubba. … “
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February 21, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

ADANI TO WAGE WAR ON AUSTRALIA

Paparc, 19 Feb 19 

Just how bad does Adani need this mine?

Bad enough that leaked information has shown Adani and their lawyers will go after individual people, and attempt to use our legal system on our own government in an effort to bankrupt, jail and silence anyone stopping theirr mine.

“Lawyers for mining firm Adani proposed waging “war” on opponents of its controversial Queensland mine by using the legal system to pressure government, silence critics and financially cripple activists, according to documents obtained by the ABC.”

Adani are under investigation for tax evasion, and fraud (1), and have found themselves between a rock and a hard place with the massive mobilisation against the Carmichael mine in Australia putting the brakes on their cash cow.

Adani have a reputation for exploiting and destroying local communities and environments for profit, like the coal mine in Parsa, that drained the entire village of water (2).

—-> .1 ADANI CORRUPTION INVESTIGATION:
https://mobile.abc.net.au/…/adani-companies-facing…/8140100…

—-> .2 PARSA DRAINED OF WATER:

https://thewire.in/…/in-chhattishgarh-adanis-coal-mine-leav…

—-> MAIN STORY:

https://mobile.abc.net.au/…/adani-law-firm-put-fo…/10821470…

February 19, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, legal, politics | Leave a comment

Law firm AJ and Co to wage war for Adani coal company – as an “attack dog”

Adani’s new law firm put forward ‘trained attack dog’ strategy for waging legal ‘war’   https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-19/adani-law-firm-put-forward-trained-attack-dog-strategy/10821470?pfmredir=sm&fbclid=IwAR0vOmyhhAWM3VjluLNby1RdjRC2WzreUxr465GFLLyT2oO8Qy-5kRB7od8    BY JOSH ROBERTSON  Lawyers for mining firm Adani proposed waging “war” on opponents of its controversial Queensland mine by using the legal system to pressure government, silence critics and financially cripple activists, according to documents obtained by the ABC.

Key points:

  • Law firm AJ & Co promised to be Adani’s “trained attack dog”
  • The firm launched bankruptcy proceedings against an Indigenous mine opponent
  • Head of commercial litigation Alex Moriarty quit after a falling out over strategy

The draft copy of Adani’s new law firm’s aggressive strategy to bring the Carmichael mine to life is labelled “Taking the Gloves Off” and outlines a commercial proposal by AJ & Co to win a multi-million-dollar legal contract with the Indian mining giant.

In the document, the Brisbane firm promised to be Adani’s “trained attack dog”.

The strategy recommended bankrupting individuals who unsuccessfully challenge Adani in court, using lawsuits to pressure the Queensland Government and social media “bias” as a tool to discredit decisionmakers.

In a section called “Play the Man”, it recommended “where activists and commentators spread untruths, use the legal system to silence them”.

It also urged Adani to hire private investigators to target activists and work “with police and a criminal lawyer to ensure appropriate police action is taken against protesters”.

“Like a well-trained police dog, our litigations know when to sit and shake, and when it is time to bite,” the law firm promised. “To achieve its commercial goal, Adani needs to accept it is involved in a war.”

The AJ & Co plan pledged to “assess each battle as part of the overall war” and to “know when to negotiate and known when all out attack is required”.

An Adani spokeswoman said “we won’t apologise for pursuing our legal rights”.

“Like many organisations, we have a panel of law firms that service our business on a wide range of matters to ensure we are complying with Australia’s legal and regulatory frameworks,” the Adani spokeswoman said.

“We will not comment in detail on the legal firms we use, their marketing material and any matters where they may represent us or advice we may receive.”

Lawyer quit firm over strategy

The ABC can reveal AJ & Co’s former head of commercial litigation, Alex Moriarty, quit after an internal falling out over strategy in the wake of the proposal.

Mr Moriarty — who did not leak the planning document and now runs his own legal firm — also alleged he was assaulted by a colleague who confronted him over dealings with Adani, a complaint that Queensland police were investigating.

The ABC understands the alleged incident did not involve physical contact.

Mr Moriarty said he disavowed the “aggressive commentary” at the heart of the proposal, and that he believed it “tends to bring the legal profession into disrepute”.

“Such comments tend to damage the professional independence and integrity of the legal profession as a whole.”

The AJ & Co proposal suggested Adani “not settle for government departments dragging out decisions — use the legal system to pressure decisionmakers”.

It also argued that “social media is a tool to use against activists and decisionmakers”.

“Look for evidence of bias and use it to show the court system is being used for political activism,” the law firm wrote.

Since it was engaged by Adani, AJ & Co has pushed to bankrupt a cash-strapped Indigenous opponent of the mine, threatened legal action against a community legal service and an environmental group, and applied to access an ABC journalist’s expenses and documents.

Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad told the ABC she believed it was “clear that their strategy has been activated … and we should be concerned”.

“We’ve seen the attacks on government — they clearly don’t like the role that the independent regulator [the Department of Environment and Science] is performing in terms of using science to make recommendations around final approval,” she said.

“I mean, seriously, what’s Adani going to do next? Are they going to start pressuring the CSIRO around the ground water management plan?

“And quite frankly, I am quite alarmed by some of the language used in the report like pursuing individuals so that they become bankrupt.

“I, like most Australians, don’t want to see us go down an Americanisation path of heavy litigation and corporate attack.”

Murrawah Johnson from the anti-Adani faction of the mine site’s traditional owners, the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J), told the ABC that in recent months “Adani’s strategy has definitely changed — it’s become more aggressive”.

On Adani’s behalf in December, AJ & Co launched bankruptcy proceedings against vocal W&J opponent Adrian Burragubba over unpaid legal costs.

“My uncle Adrian has been public enemy number one for Adani,” Ms Johnson said.

“Going after him, I think, has been their plan all along — to essentially stamp out our resistance to the coal mine going ahead on our country.”

A day after the ABC revealed Adani was under investigation for alleged unlawful site works, AJ & Co wrote to Queensland’s Environmental Defenders Office (EDO).

EDO chief executive Jo Bragg, who commented in the ABC story, said the letter was “clearly designed to intimidate us”, although she declined to elaborate.

“It appears Adani has built an entire, well-funded strategy around hiring lawyers to bully community groups into silence,” she said.

AJ & Co later applied under federal Freedom of Information laws to access ABC journalist Mark Willacy’s expenses, and documents relating to the story.

In November, AJ & Co demanded environmental campaigners Market Forces abandon a trip to South Korea with W&J opponents to lobby banks not to invest in Adani.

Market Forces executive director Julien Vincent said the law firm accused the campaigners of injurious falsehood, unlawful conspiracy to cause economic loss to Adani and threatened legal action.

“It was pretty aggressive,” Mr Vincent said.

“It came across with a tone that had little substance to back up the allegations it made, and was quite threatening in the steps that would be taken if we didn’t comply with everything they wanted.”

A barrister for Market Forces told AJ & Co its allegations were “doomed to fail” and no more was heard from the firm.

Mr Vincent said Adani’s mine was “a massive public issue … and it is entirely reasonable for people to speak up and voice their concerns”.

An AJ & Co spokesman said “we don’t discuss matters which may relate to clients”.

February 19, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, climate change - global warming, legal, politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Attacks on scientists by News Corp – bias in supporting Adani coal mine

News Corp attacks scientists assessing Adani coalmine – and ignores science, Guardian, Sarah Bekessy Hugh Possingham, James Watson, Georgia Garrard and Alex Kusmanoff, 16 Feb 19  Damaging the credibility of scientists when we need their fearless advice more than ever is socially irresponsible and morally reprehensible.

Scientists unite against Adani attack on report into endangered finch  The relentless, sustained, needlessly personal attacks on the scientists analysing the impacts of the Adani coalmine undermines the role of science – and scientists – in important decisions that affect our future.Mediawatch last week called out the Courier Mail’s bias in reporting on the proposed Adani coalmine in northern Queensland, including blatantly false statements. One example is a claim that the “endangered black-throated finch faces extinction if the Adani coal mine does not go ahead”, when mining is the very thing threatening the future of the species.
What Mediawatch did not report is the pointed attacks on the scientists engaged to critically assess the likely impact of the mine. The following sentence in the Courier Mail on 27 January is just one example: “If you were in the bunny hugging business and were hiring you’d look at Prof Wintle’s resume and say “impeccable”.In the past month, there have been numerous News Corp articles published about the review under way regarding the impacts of the Adani coalmine on the critically endangered southern black-throated finch. Most have attacked the scientists behind the review or quoted statements undermining the scientist’s integrity. We could find none that have critically discussed the science, apart from one article that cites an anonymous ecologist who claims that the mine is the only way to conserve the species. No evidence is provided to support this claim.
The attacks have consisted of unsubstantiated efforts to smear people instead of addressing the substantive issues. Wintle’s comical tweet of school children protesting (“I’ll stop farting if you stop burning coal”) is the only evidence provided that he is indeed a “self-proclaimed anti-coal activist”, as claimed in the Queensland Times on 21 January and again on Friday mentioned in the Australian. Yet, apparently“questions still loom as to whether Professor Wintle, an open anti-coal activist, would be able to carry out the review with impartiality”.In addition to seeking to degrade political debate and balanced decision making on important topics, this kind of journalism also seeks to damage the credibility of science and scientists in the eyes of the general public. This is arguably socially irresponsible and morally reprehensible, but importantly may also discourage scientists from engaging in policy and planning processes where their expertise is essential………https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/feb/16/news-corp-attacks-scientists-assessing-adani-coalmine-and-ignores-science

February 17, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, media | 1 Comment

Legal advice: Government cannot fund new coal plants without parliamentary approval

Government cannot fund new coal plants without parliamentary approval, advice says
New legal advice sought by the Australia Institute contradicts what government has been telling stakeholders,
Guardian, Katharine Murphy Political editor @murpharoo, 17 Feb 19 
A new legal opinion suggests the Morrison government will not have the ability to roll out taxpayer support to its controversial plan to underwrite new coal plants unless it enacts supporting legislation or amends existing legislation.The advice, sought by the progressive thinktank the Australia Institute, argues assistance for new generation projects will require “some form of supporting legislation”, either new or existing, to operate and fund the program, otherwise the arrangements would be open to a high court challenge.

Federal parliament resumes on Monday for one of the last sitting periods before the May election, and the Morrison government has already pulled its much-vaunted “big stick” energy legislation because of concerns it would have to cop an amendment from the Greens and Labor, preventing the government from funding new coal projects……. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/feb/18/government-cannot-fund-new-coal-plants-without-parliamentary-approval-advice-says

February 17, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

What the planet needs from men 

Brisbane Times, by Elizabeth Farrelly, 15 Feb 19…………women aren’t the only victims. Nature too bears the brunt. The world is being shoved off a cliff not by masculinity’s strength but by its terrifying fragility.Fragile masculinity is fear pressurised into rage; fear of losing control – of liberated femininity, of mysterious nature, of a world bucking its traces, of chaos. The anger is a desperate attempt to reinstate that control, illusory as it may always have been.

We’ve just endured a series of 40-plus days across much of the country, last month was the hottest on record. We joke. Thirty-six is the new normal, haha. I gaze with cold-envy at Antarctica, minus 29. But see this for what it is. This is the will-to-dominance: fragile masculinity in action.

Tasmania incineratesRiver systems shrink to nothingFish die in their millions. In Queensland up to half a million head of cattle lie rotting in the mud. In the Northern Territory, the soil itself has begun to ignite and thermometers melt in bare ground. On Tuesday, ploughing-induced dust storms obscured Parliament House. Globally, we’re witnessing catastrophic insect extinction, the start of the sixth mass extinction in the planet’s history. The evidence is insurmountable.

Yet we continue to beat nature into submission, as if striving to make the world hotter and weather events more extreme. Other countries reduce emissions. Germany pledges to close its remaining coal-fired power plants in 30 years. Australia could match that. Both UNSW and the CSIRO with Energy Networks Australia argue that renewables could easily supply most or all of our future energy needs. Instead, we become the developed world’s only deforestation hotspot, expected to clear-fell a further 3 million hectares in 15 years.

The Darling Basin Royal Commission finds “gross maladministration” and “negligence” in our governments’ wilful ignorance of climate change. Even the courts, bless them, have started to disallow coal mines for their climate impact. Yet the government response is, well, nothing, actually. Minister Littleproud mentions “learnings” from the Darling but still our noble leaders favour irrigators, build motorways, approve new mines, deny climate science and ease the path to public subsidies for one the biggest coal mines on earth as though it’s all fine.

It’s not fine. This is domestic violence. This planet is our home and they thrash around in it yelling, intimidating, wrecking the joint. Like violent husbands they get all remorseful and beg forgiveness only to do it all again. Why? Because we’ve always thrashed nature, and nature has always coped. As a bloke once said to me: “You don’t want me to shout and get possessive? But I’ve always treated women like this.”

Stoically, the planet has housed and nourished us, tolerated us. But it can’t last. A dominance relationship is never sustainable, human-to-human or human-to-nature. Winning? To win this battle is to lose. The era of collaboration is here………….

It’s when people “stitch their self-worth to being all-powerful” that things go bad. An equal-status relationship – with a partner or with nature – requires listening, empathy, the antidote to shame.

We talk as though “traditional masculinity” were the enemy, as though we want men to evolve into something more like women. But that’s wrong.

What we need is not faux-women but nobler, more confident men. The man-heroes of the future, if we’re to have one, won’t be the brutes and sociopaths. They won’t be the cruel and the thoughtless, the boat-stoppers and coal-brandishers. They’ll be those who hold power but refuse to exploit it, renowned as much for their kindness as their exploits. Literally, gentlemen.

Male anger is leading us over a cliff. If men can find the strength to be truly vulnerable, they deserve to lead. If not, if they persist in this fragile rage, it’ll be up to Rosie the Riveter to save the day. Why? Because there is no spare room to sleep in. https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/what-the-planet-needs-from-men-20190214-p50xrq.html

February 16, 2019 Posted by | art and culture, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, women | Leave a comment

In this time of critical drought, water shortage, South Australia’s govt lets BHP expand its water-guzzling Olympic Dam uranium mine

 

Why does BHP get this water for free?

 

SA boost for Olympic Dam expansion  https://www.sbs.com.au/news/sa-boost-for-olympic-dam-expansion  15 Feb 19, The South Australian government has granted the expansion of the Olympic Dam project major development status.  BHP’s plans for a $3 billion expansion of its Olympic Dam project in South Australia’s north have been granted major development status by the state government.

The government’s move, gazetted on Thursday, clears the way for the company to increase annual copper production from 200,000 to 350,000 tonnes.

It also allows it to boost gold, silver and uranium production and to lift water extraction from the Great Artesian Basin to a maximum of 50 megalitres a day.

Declaring BHP’s proposed expansion of Olympic Dam a major development is a key milestone in this important project,” Mining Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said.

“Olympic Dam is already the state’s largest mining operation, providing jobs, investment and royalties for South Australia.

“(This is) a very important project that, if it goes ahead, would contribute 1800 additional jobs in South Australia during construction, and another permanent 600 jobs on site at Olympic Dam.”

But the minister said the project was still subject to thorough assessment, particularly the plan to extract more water.

“All potential environmental impacts, potential social impacts, potential economic impacts will be considered incredibly thoroughly,” Mr van Holst Pellekaan said.

Local communities will also be consulted on the company’s plans.

Mr van Holst Pellekaan said it would be several years before an expanded mine could begin operation.

The state government’s declaration also covers BHP’s development plans outside the mining lease, including proposals for extra accommodation. The proposed expansion of Olympic Dam has had a chequered history after first being mooted by the previous owners, Western Mining, back in 2002.

BHP initially proposed a $30 billion expansion, including development of one of the world’s largest open cut mines, but put the plans on hold in 2012.

The company has since been looking at lower-cost, smaller scale, alternatives to its original proposals.

February 16, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

Matt Canavan hijacks native title fight on Adani

“The system, the native title system,” Tony McAvoy, SC, Australia’s first Indigenous silk said, “coerces Aboriginal people into an agreement. It’s going to happen anyway. If we don’t agree, the native title tribunal will let it go through, and we will lose our land and won’t be compensated either. That’s the position we’re in.”
They can either agree to an ILUA, in which case the mine goes ahead and they get something out of it, or they can refuse, in which case the mine almost certainly goes ahead anyway, and they get nothing.
The mining company and its political backers engaged in a process of “manufacturing consent by exploiting dissent”.
The appeal is expected to be heard in May. The docket should read “David v Goliath”, given the relative resources of the parties involved. On one side the multibillion-dollar mining conglomerate, backed by the federal government and aided by a legislative regime skewed in its favour, and on the other, a relative handful of impecunious Indigenous custodians.

It’s a big case, not only for the W&J people, but for an entire, overheating planet.

The Saturday Paper  Mike Seccombe , 15 Feb 19, 
Just before 1pm on Tuesday, most media attention in Parliament House was focused on the government’s historic embarrassment on medical evacuations of asylum seekers. So, relatively few were there to witness another embarrassment, in the senate courtyard.
Resources Minister Matt Canavan, chief government advocate for the coal industry in general and the Adani Carmichael mine in particular, had called a media conference with representatives of the Wangan and Jagalingou people, traditional custodians of the land Adani wants to mine.

Its purpose was to promulgate the line that the traditional custodians overwhelmingly support the giant coalmine. To that end, Canavan, along with his National Party colleagues Michelle Landry and George Christensen, had invited a member of the W&J people to spruik the benefits of the mine. Continue reading

February 16, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

A fearful future for Australia’s one big river system – the Murray-Darling basin

Murray-Darling Basin’s outlook is grim unless it rains, authority’s report warns, Guardian, Anne Davies


Focus for year ahead will be on ‘providing drought refuges and avoiding irreversible loss of species 
The outlook for the environment in the Murray-Darling Basin, particularly in the north, is extremely challenging and there will be almost no scope for environmental flows for the remainder of the 2018-19 year unless it rains, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority has warned.It says the focus will be “on providing drought refuges and avoiding irreversible loss of species”.

Releasing its environmental watering outlook for 2019-20 the authority warns that there are almost no reserves of environmental water in the northern basin and that, as a result of above-average temperatures and low inflows over successive years, some important wetlands and floodplain forests have not received water for long periods.

It says conditions in the Coorong, a Ramsar-listed wetland in South Australia, are deteriorating, as are conditions in the Narran Lakes, despite the federal government paying $80m for water rights aimed at restoring them. The Macquarie Marshes and floodplains along the Murray are also deteriorating.

The report says the conditions in the lower Darling are particularly severe and the length and duration of cease-to-flow events in the lower Darling has skyrocketed since 2000. It acknowledges this is due to extraction by irrigators upstream as well as climate.

“The hydrology in this area has changed in recent years … an effect which can be tied to both the volume of water extracted from the river and climate across the northern basin,” it says.

“This trend has also affected water availability in Menindee Lakes and the flow characteristics downstream through the lower Darling,” it says…….. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/feb/15/murray-darling-basins-outlook-is-grim-unless-it-rains-authoritys-report-warns

February 16, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, environment | Leave a comment

Global events, as well as Australian politics, may spell doom for Australia’s coal industry

Australia’s coal future under threat as more changes hit fossil fuels globally, ABC 

Key points:

  • Germany wants to exit coal power by 2038, which could have implications for Australian coal producers
  • Renewables last year overtook coal as the key source of energy in the European nation
  • Environmental groups are pushing candidates to outline their position on climate change ahead of the upcoming federal election

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed the country would exit coal power by 2038.

In New South Wales, a court knocked back an application for a new coal mine on the grounds it would increase greenhouse gas emissions at a time when they need to be cut.

Neither will immediately derail the freight train that made Australia $66 billion in export earnings last year, overtaking iron ore as our most valuable traded commodity, but both decisions are a snapshot of large and incremental changes in policy and legislation that are hitting the coal sector.

“We want to be out of coal in 2038,” Chancellor Merkel told students in Tokyo last week, after a government-appointed commission released its 20-year plan to completely shut the coal-fired power plants that currently provide almost half the country’s electricity……….

Politics may dictate a shift

Australia is months away from a federal election where senior Liberal Party figures — including Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and former prime minister Tony Abbott — are being threatened by independents who support a rapid shift away from greenhouse-gas-producing fossil fuels like coal.

Even people who cannot vote, but feel passionately about the impact of climate change, are entering the debate.

School student Maiysha Moin helped found “Climate Voices” to amplify the concerns that prompted a strike by thousands of students last year.

“We want the voices of young people to be heard,” she said.

“Right now we see a lot of politicians don’t represent our vision for the future, especially on climate change, and what we want to do is endorse leaders and candidates who will represent what we believe in and our values.”

The new group is vetting the climate change credentials of potential candidates, giving them stamps of approval and offering campaign support in key marginal seats.

“What we need right now is visionary leadership,” she said.

“We need our politicians to be brave, step up, take action and listen to what the people have to say instead of standing around and hoping that climate change is going to go away — that’s not going to happen.” https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-15/australias-coal-future-under-threat-amid-global-changes/10812758

February 16, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Climate change protesters disrupt parliamentary question time

 https://www.sbs.com.au/news/climate-change-protesters-disrupt-parliamentary-question-time 15 Feb 19, Protesters complaining about what they see as a lack of action on climate change have tried to disrupt federal parliament during question time. Climate protesters have disrupted question time in federal parliament, with at least 10 people in the public galleries standing up to shout at politicians.

The first was applauded on Thursday as he yelled about “record-breaking droughts and bushfires” before being removed by security as another activist stood up to take his place.

Ministers ploughed on with their answers amid the shouting, while backbenchers looked up at the disturbance. One woman singled out Barnaby Joyce and Tony Abbott, telling them they would be judged harshly as Mr Joyce smiled and waved to her.

Standing up one after another across the three public galleries, others said, “stop lying to us”, that their children and grandchildren would suffer and “take urgent action … you should get arrested for what you’re doing”.

The Coffs Coast Climate Action Group claimed credit, saying they wanted to deliver a statement from their community and call on MPs to examine their conscience.

One of the group, Uniting Church deacon Jason John, said it was cynical of politicians including the prime minister to ask Australians to pray for rain in a time of record drought as if God controls every drop, while not doing anything to act on climate change.

“I am not afraid of a lump of coal but I am afraid that some of our nation’s leaders seem to worship it,” Dr John said in a statement

During Julia Gillard’s prime ministership, multiple question times were interrupted by protesters against the so-called carbon tax.

February 16, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | 1 Comment

Court judgment a precedent for climate to weigh more than coal business in legal cases?

Landmark Rocky Hill ruling could pave the way for more courts to choose climate over coal, ABC, The Conversation By Justine Bell-James, 12 Feb 19, On Friday, Chief Judge Brian Preston of the New South Wales Land and Environment Court handed down a landmark judgementconfirming a decision to refuse a new open-cut coal mine near Gloucester in the Hunter Valley.

The proposed Rocky Hill mine’s contribution to climate change was one of the key reasons cited for refusing the application.

The decision has prompted celebration among environmentalists, for whom climate-based litigation has long been an uphill battle.

Defeating a mining proposal on climate grounds involves clearing several high hurdles.

Generally speaking, the court must be convinced not only that the proposed mine would contribute to climate change, but also that this issue is relevant under the applicable law.

To do this, a litigant needs to convince a court of a few key things, which include that:

  • the proponent is responsible for the ultimate burning of the coal, even if it is burned by a third party, and
  • this will result in increased greenhouse emissions, which in turn contributes to climate change.

In his judgement, Judge Preston took a broad view and readily connected these causal dots, ruling that:

The project’s cumulative greenhouse gas emissions will contribute to the global total of GHG concentrations in the atmosphere. The global total of GHG concentrations will affect the climate system and cause climate change impacts. The project’s cumulative GHG emissions are therefore likely to contribute to the future changes to the climate system and the impacts of climate change.

Other courts (such as in Queensland, where the proposed Adani coalmine has successfully cleared various legal hurdles) have tended to take a narrower approach to statutory interpretation, with climate change just one of numerous relevant factors under consideration.

In contrast, Judge Preston found climate change to be one of the more important factors to consider under NSW legislation.

To rule against a coalmine on climate grounds, the court also needs to resist the “market substitution” argument — the suggestion that if the proponent does not mine and sell coal, someone else will.

This argument has become a common “defence” in climate litigation, and indeed was advanced by Gloucester Resources in the Rocky Hill case.

Judge Preston rejected the argument, describing it as “flawed”. He noted that there is no certainty that overseas mines will substitute for the Rocky Hill coalmine.

Given increasing global momentum to tackle climate change, he noted that other countries may well follow this lead in rejecting future coalmine proposals.

He also stated that:

An environmental impact does not become acceptable because a hypothetical and uncertain alternative development might also cause the same unacceptable environmental impact……..

This decision potentially opens up a new chapter in Australia’s climate litigation history.

Judge Preston’s ruling nimbly vaults over hurdles that have confounded Australian courts in the past — most notably, the application of the market substitution defence.

It is hard to predict whether his decision will indeed have wider ramifications.

Certainly the tide is turning internationally — coal use is declining, many nations have set ambitious climate goals under the Paris Agreement, and high-level overseas courts are making bold decisions in climate cases.

As Judge Preston concluded:

An open-cut coal mine in this part of the Gloucester valley would be in the wrong place at the wrong time … the GHG emissions of the coal mine and its coal product will increase global total concentrations of GHGs at a time when what is now urgently needed, in order to meet generally agreed climate targets, is a rapid and deep decrease in GHG emissions.

Indeed, it is high time for a progressive approach to climate cases too.

Hopefully this landmark judgement will signal the turning of the tides in Australian courts as well.

Justine Bell-James is a senior lecturer at The University of Queensland. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-12/rocky-hill-ruling-more-courts-choose-climate-over-coal/10802930

February 14, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, legal, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Queensland government investigating Adani again, about coal terminal water release

Adani facing government probe into latest coal terminal water release into wetlands, ABC News 

Key points:

  • Adani has not applied for an emergency water release permit for Abbot Point
  • Water flowed into Caley Valley wetlands this month after monsoonal rain
  • The Queensland Government is prosecuting Adani over a 2017 wetland water release

It comes as Adani revealed it did not apply for an emergency permit to dump more polluted water into the sensitive Caley Valley wetlands during the north Queensland floods last week.

The company told the ABC that Abbot Point operators were confident they could manage floodwaters with new infrastructure, but were then overwhelmed by flows from neighbouring properties.

Adani’s own testing showed water released into the wetlands on February 7 had almost double the authorised concentration of “suspended solids”, which included coal sediment……….

‘2017 release eight times over limit’Adani is fighting a prosecution by the department over its 2017 release of coal-laden water from the port during Cyclone Debbie.

The department alleges Adani breached a temporary emissions licence (TEL) by dumping water with more than 800mg/L — eight times the authorised concentration of suspended solids……….

Conservationists called on the Queensland Government to launch a second prosecution of Adani over Abbot Point.

Australian Marine Conservation Society campaigner Lissa Schindler said the company had “shown that it cannot be trusted with our precious reef”.

She criticised Adani’s advertising campaign designed to pressure the government into granting final approvals of its Carmichael coal project.

Ms Schindler said Adani instead “should have been ensuring its port was able to cope with Queensland’s extreme weather events”.

Mackay Conservation Group campaigner Peter McCallum said: “If you own and operate a port in Queensland on our precious Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, you must make sure it can withstand big storms.” https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-13/adani-facing-government-probe-abbot-point-wetland-release/10805206

February 14, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

Heated exchange at Adani media event  

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/heated-exchange-at-adani-media-event  A press conference to showcase the support of indigenous traditional owners for Adani’s Carmichael coal mine has served to show divided opinions on the project.

A fiery war of words has broken out at a press conference designed to highlight the support of Indigenous traditional owners for Adani’s controversial Carmichael coal mine.

Spokesman for the Wangan and Jagalingou people of central Queensland, Patrick Malone, spoke up about the benefits of the project, including a boost to local employment alongside Resources Minister Matt Canavan at Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday.

He stressed that traditional owners voted 294-to-1 in favour of establishing a land use agreement with Adani in 2016.

They did that because there are long-term benefits for Wangan and Jagalingou people,” Mr Malone told reporters.

But he was soon interrupted by fellow Wangan and Jagalingou representative Murrawah Johnson.

“Not appropriate,” Ms Johnson declared upon arriving at the scene.

Ms Johnson accused Mr Malone of having no right to represent her people, because of a native title claim still in dispute.

But Mr Malone rejected the view, lamenting that “loud mouth people” were overshadowing the majority view of traditional owners.

“Look after country,” Ms Johnson urged Mr Malone.

I know all about that,” he replied.

With the exchange showing no signs of cooling down, Senator Canavan swiftly wrapped up the conference, with security arriving to usher away the interrupters. They did that because there are long-term benefits for Wangan and Jagalingou people,” Mr Malone told reporters.

But he was soon interrupted by fellow Wangan and Jagalingou representative Murrawah Johnson.

“Not appropriate,” Ms Johnson declared upon arriving at the scene.

Ms Johnson accused Mr Malone of having no right to represent her people, because of a native title claim still in dispute.

But Mr Malone rejected the view, lamenting that “loud mouth people” were overshadowing the majority view of traditional owners.

“Look after country,” Ms Johnson urged Mr Malone.

“I know all about that,” he replied.

With the exchange showing no signs of cooling down, Senator Canavan swiftly wrapped up the conference, with security arriving to usher away the interrupters.

February 14, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

Australia and water: the driest inhabited continent in the age of climate change

Australia is the canary, and the coalmine, for the world when it comes to water stress, Guardian,  R Keller Kopf  , 11 Feb 19,

As extreme climate events happen around the world, Australian communities are running out of water

The skies are brass and the plains are bare,

Death and ruin are everywhere—

And all that is left of the last year’s flood

Is a sickly stream on the grey-black mud;

The salt-springs bubble and the quagmires quiver,

And this is the dirge of the Darling River.”

— Henry Lawson (1891)

The northern hemisphere faced a polar vortex, while Australia during December and January was the hottest on record. People and the environment are suffering at both ends of the planet because of the extreme events.

Australia’s heatwave has exposed cracks in our unsustainable water, land-use and climate policies.

Fish kills in the Darling River, followed by more in other waterways, are being blamed on drought. More than one million fish died following multiple events in December and January.

The public has been aghast. The catalyst for outrage has been viral videos of hundreds of Murray cod floating dead and being displayed by angry locals. Murray cod is an icon of Australian waterways and one of the world’s largest species of freshwater fish. The biggest Murray cod – allegedly 114kg – was caught in 1902, during the federation drought in a tributary of the Darling, near Walgett.

But extreme conditions and fish kills are natural here in the “land of drought and flooding rains”, right?

The Darling is the longest river on the driest inhabited continent – prone to harsh and variable conditions. Lawson’s 1891 poem, which followed one year after the largest flood, is used often to depict the naturally occurring extreme conditions of our rivers. Indeed, European explorers who set off to chart flows to the “great inland sea” were surprised instead to discover a drought-stricken river – the Darling. Though the water was too salty to drink, it abounded with pelicans, swans, ducks and leaping fish.

Heatwaves and drought have always occurred here but unsustainable levels of water extraction and climate change are much more recent. Vast quantities of water are now extracted and used, during drought and flood, to irrigate crops including rice and cotton.

The amount of water used for irrigated agriculture varies, but ranged from about 50% of all flows in the Murray during the 1980s and 90s, to more than 76% during the Millennium Drought. Standards for healthy rivers are debated, but extraction of more than 20% of flows typically results in adverse changes to biodiversity and the benefits people derive from clean water.

Worldwide the demand for fresh water is expected to increase by 55% by 2050.

Australia is experiencing this water stress now. We are thus a canary, and the coalmine, for the rest of the world………..

There is plenty of water to go around for people and the environment, but not enough to simultaneously sustain the current irrigation entitlements.

Banning cotton and rice and degrading farmers will not solve the problem.

What will solve it is reducing total water entitlements for irrigation and increasing flows for rivers and wetlands.

Environmental flows have expanded in many regions, but the Darling and northern-basin still seem to be a wild west of water extraction. Minimum environmental flow standards have either not been in place or have been insufficient to sustain dry-land rivers. Minimum flow standards and policies around land use and run-off must be sufficiently robust to prevent further large-scale blue-green algae events, which are the proximate causes of the current hypoxia and fish kills.

The best available science reviewed by the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists has recommend an increase in environmental flows, to a minimum of 3,200 GL per year to maintain healthy freshwater ecosystems.

So, what can the world learn from our experience on the driest inhabited continent?……….

Subsidies that perpetuate the – hydro-illogical – cycle of unsustainable irrigation around the world should stop being funded. Instead, funding for communities must be targeted at helping farmers adapt and growing industries that will be viable during water scarcity, climate change and extreme conditions. Regional communities and freshwater ecosystems are much more than irrigation ditches and will thrive if presented with new opportunities.

If global carbon emissions remain high, the 48.3C record temperature in Bourke, situated near the Darling River, a few weeks ago should be expected to become 50C or 51C by 2090. Temperatures in Death Valley are sometimes that hot, but then again no one is growing cotton or cod there.

This does not have to be the dirge of the Darling, regional communities or farming. But it is time for change.

 

February 12, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, environment | Leave a comment