Closing arguments begin today (20 June) in a landmark court case to prevent the expansion of Xstrata’s expansion of the Ulan Coal Mines in the Hunter Valley on the grounds of the additional 575 million tonnes of carbon pollution it will create.
The Nature Conservation Council of NSW supports the Hunter Environment Lobby’s challenge of the approval to double production at the Ulan Coal Mines based on its impact on climate change.
“Although it is the first time in NSW that climate change will be used as a legal argument against coal mine expansion, there is a growing national and international push for greater recognition of carbon pollution when making decisions on coal and gas mining or power plant development proposals,” Nature Conservation Council of NSW Chief Executive Officer Pepe Clarke said today.
“The approval of the $30 billion Wheatstone gas project in Western Australia has recommendations that greenhouse gas emissions be offset during the life of the project, and Micronesia recently challenged a proposal to expand a coal-fired power plant in the Czech Republic because its emissions would increase the climate change risks faced by Pacific nations.
“During the current court case, the NSW Department of Planning’s own David Kitto has acknowledged greenhouse gas emissions have been raised as a concern in project submissions for at least the past 10 years. Yet we still have no formal policy for dealing with the tonnes of carbon pollution during the determination of major mining and industry projects in NSW.
“The true cost of mining and coal-fired power generation on our climate must be recognised when governments make important energy decisions with lasting impacts on the global communities and the environment.
“Over the life of the mine the Ulan Coal Mines alone would produce more direct carbon pollution than was generated by the entire Australian economy - every household, industry, manufacturing, agriculture and industry - in 2009.
“Major mining and power generation projects must urgently take steps to reduce their contributions to climate change now, not wait until we have an effective national and international course of action for achieving the deep cuts needed to our carbon emissions,” Mr Clarke said.