#STOPADANI: Environmental Impacts of the Carmichael Coal Mine

#STOPADANI.

Following years of controversy, the proposed Carmichael coal mine funded by Indian industrialist Guatam Adani is set to start operations before Christmas.

It’s not going to be the mega-mine that was initially proposed, however the mine in North Queensland’s Galilee Basin will still have dire and irreversible environmental consequences.

It’s no secret that coal-burning is one of the biggest drivers of climate change. Many believe that Australia one of the ‘better’ countries when it comes to the fight against global warming. But in fact, Australia is the largest coal exporter in the world; 36.6% of total coal exports to be exact.

The initial mine will be quite small. But Adani claims it will “ramp up” coal output to 27.5 million tonnes a year. It also paves the way for other Galilee Basin projects, including the China Stone Project and the Alpha North; both of which would greatly surpass the size of the Adani mine.

Why has the proposed Adani coal mine become such a contentious issue?

Due to the enormous scale of the proposed mine and its impacts on the environment, it has been opposed with the largest environmental campaign in Australia since the Franklin Dam controversy in the 80s.

It also comes at a time when the world’s climate scientists are warning that catastrophic climate change can only be avoided if the world limits its use of coal. Furthermore, with the extremely urgent challenge in transitioning to a low-carbon society, it’s hard to justify a new coal mine that would contribute to the worsening effects of climate change.

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#STOPADANI protestors outside Parliament House – image via SBS.

If the smaller Adani coal mine goes ahead, will it still have negative environmental impacts?

Despite being approved for the development of a mine roughly half the size of the initial proposal, there’s still a strong chance the mine will increase in size and have terrible consequences for our climate, local water sources and threatened species.

CLIMATE: The Adani coal mine is set to produce 2.3 billion tonnes of thermal coal in its 60 year project lifetime; generating an estimated 4.7 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. This goes directly against the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that said global emissions of greenhouse gas pollution must reach zero by about 2050 in order to stop global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius.

GREAT BARRIER REEF: The shipping of the coal is dependent upon the shipping port at Abbot Point, which requires dredging the seabed. Dredging also releases fine sediments, which would reduce water quality and smother nearby coral reefs. Not to mention the long-term damage to the climate; the GBR is expected to decline by around 70-90 percent under the 1.5C change, but that may rise to 99 percent reef loss if the temperature hits 2C. ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies director Terry Hughes contributes the eradication of the GBR to the continued use of fossil fuels – full interview here.

“But the federal government of Australia, like the federal government of the United States, still very much favors the continued development of the fossil-fuel² industry, and that, to me, is a complete policy failure for the Great Barrier Reef,” Hughes said.

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Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching – image via Climate Council.

DEPLETION OF WATER SOURCES: Adani was granted unlimited access to precious groundwater by the Queensland government for the next 60 years. According to #STOPADANI, the proposed Adani mine will drain at least 270 billion litres of groundwater over the lifetime of the mine. Furthermore, it will dump polluted wastewater into the Carmichael river and threaten local ancient springs that are sacred to the Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners. These springs are also paramount in times of severe drought.

It’s clear that while the rest of the modern world is attempting to move forward to a cleaner, more sustainable future, Australia still places the profit of a finite source over the welfare of future generations. It’s obvious that the Adani coal mine is symbolic of the precipice in which Australia now stands upon; do we continue to spiral down into a world where profit is more important than our precious ecosystems and future generations? Or, do we take a stand and become a leading example of sustainable practices for the rest of the world to emulate?

Thanks for reading,

Liv x

‘No fear, no pain’: What really happens to livestock when they leave Australian shores?

Feature Article by Olivia Nankivell

‘No fear, no pain’ is the mantra used by the Australian Livestock Exporters Council (ALEC). Yet the 60 Minutes investigation into live export negligence in early April shocked the nation, prompting calls for the brutal trade to be banned completely.

More than two thousand sheep died onboard the Awassi Express last August during an intense heat wave en route to the Middle East. Footage of livestock covered in filth, gasping for air and fighting for space will be forever etched into the mind of every Australian viewer – view here.

Many of us don’t often think about the plight of livestock onboard live export ships. In fact, many of us don’t really know what happens to them at all.

We would prefer to imagine them frolicking freely onboard the ships, smelling the fresh ocean air, and being blissfully unaware of what’s to come.

That idealistic image couldn’t be further from the truth. So, what really happens to livestock when they leave Australian shores?

Aimee Weir, spokesperson for Adelaide Against Live Export (AALE), has in-depth knowledge on the issue. Armed with a growing group of volunteers, AALE work tirelessly to create public awareness of the negligence of the live export industry.

Since 2014, AALE have monitored the process of live export: from the farm, the feedlot, and then the trucks to the ships – taking countless hours of video footage to report to the authorities.

Mrs Weir said the ships that depart Port Adelaide are extremely old and were initially designed as car carriers.

“They’re simply not equipped to have livestock onboard. The animals are housed in really cramped conditions; they have to stand for the entire journey, and there’s certainly not enough room to lay down or move around,” Weir said.

With one ship being able to carry up to 75,000 animals, many are unable to access an adequate supply of food and water. On a journey of up to five weeks, the weak livestock will inevitably die.

“The weak ones will die a slow, prolonged, cruel death. They’re not going to have a humane death,” Weir said.

Weir also commented on the lack of ventilation and the severe heat stress inflicted upon both livestock and crewmembers.

“Coming into winter, we watched the Bader III load in Port Adelaide. It arrived in Israel in 45 degree temperatures. It puts so much stress on their bodies.”.

Supporting this claim is PETA’s Media Officer, Emma Hurst; she says the livestock suffer from cramped conditions, poor ventilation, and heat stress.

“The animals are prodded, kicked, and herded onto crowded, filthy, multi-tiered, open-deck ships and forced to stand for long periods of time – in a sickening slurry of water, urine, and faeces.” Hurst said.

“A mortality rate of up to two per cent of the many thousands of sheep and one per cent of cattle during each journey is considered ‘acceptable’ by the Australian government.”

What happens to livestock when they reach their destination country?

Many Australians don’t know where our livestock is exported or what type of treatment they receive from the importing countries.

According to the Australian Livestock Exporters Council (ALEC), as an island nation, Australia utilises air and sea transport to move livestock to destination markets.

Kuwait, Qatar, Indonesia and Vietnam are the largest live export markets, valued at a total of $1.4 billion, despite suffering a forty percent drop of live exports in the last decade.

ALEC claims to accept the responsibility of ensuring the welfare of slaughter/feeder livestock through to the point of slaughter.

“That means Australian exporters, even after animals are discharged and sold, continue to trace animals, train staff and upgrade facilities along supply chains to the point of slaughter,” ALEC says on their website.

Despite these claims, the live export industry has endured severe controversy and countless scandals over the past decade.

According to Emma from World Animal Protection Australia, Since the Department of Agriculture created the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) in 2012, there have been nearly 150 complaints of non-compliance.

“Many of those that survive the journey are handled roughly at their destination and  killed while fully conscious. Too many suffer outright brutality,” she said.

The reputation of the industry has diminished due to media reports of breaches of animal welfare, both in Australia and overseas, including a 2011 Four Corners investigation into the treatment of Australian cattle, and a 2006 Animals Australia investigation into Egyptian slaughterhouse malpractice.

PETA’s Emma Hurst says that the Australian government has had ample opportunity to create meaningful action.

“A 2011 exposé by Four Corners revealed that the eyes of Australian cows exported to Indonesia were gouged out, and their limbs were cut open while they were still conscious. A joint investigation in 2006 by PETA and Animals Australia documented that workers in an Egyptian slaughterhouse stabbed Australian cows, gouged their eyes out, and disabled them by slashing their leg tendons,” Hurst said.

“After every high-profile incident politicians have expressed concern and then taken no meaningful action at all”.

Does the industry has any control over slaughterhouse malpractice in foreign importing countries?

AALE’s Aimee Weir certainly doesn’t think so: “There’s no way we can have eyes on what’s happening to our animals once they reach their destination country,” she said.

“No matter what the Australian government says, we have absolutely no control over what other countries do. We simply don’t have the legal jurisdiction”.

It’s reasonable to say that Australians are out of touch with the live export process.

“The live export industry operates on a lack of transparency; it’s completely hidden from the public,” said Mrs Weir.

“In terms of factory farming and live export, the common person thinks Australia has high welfare standards for animals – it couldn’t be further from the truth,” she concluded.

Looking to the future, Emma from World Animal Protection believes the live export trade isn’t the only option for the Australian meat industry.

“We’re calling on the government to grow the more humane chilled and frozen meat industry in place of live export,” Emma said.

“Transitioning to the chilled meat trade would ensure that animals are slaughtered and processed in Australia under our regulations, and protected from arduous sea voyages and inhumane slaughter overseas”.

Thanks for reading,

Liv x