I’ve done a few posts of late on climate change. Clearly some people who have commented on them do not believe there is a problem with human induced, rapid climate change. These people will be pleased by a judgement just handed down in the Land & Resources Tribunal of Queensland. The judgement considered objections by the Queensland Conservation Council and the Mackay Conservation Group to the plan by Xstrata mining company and others to develop a new open cut coal mine near Mackay.
The Tribunal recommended that the mining application be granted without any of the conditions sought by the objectors, which revolved around seeking a requirement for a reduction or offsetting of the consequential greenhouse gas emissions that would come from the mine.
Without suggesting that the Tribunal erred at law in any way, I did find it in interesting that in amongst the published assessments and conclusion, the Tribunal member appears to dispute the findings and concerns contained within the recently released Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This quote gives an indication of the Tribunal member’s views
“With all respect, a temperature increase of only about 0.45 degrees over 55 years seems a surprisingly low figure upon which to base the IPCC’s concerns about its inducing many serious changes in the global climate during the 21st Century.”
I think the Tribunal member could have dismissed the objections against the mining application without having to dispute the validity of assumptions about the cause and effect of global warming. It is interesting that they chose to do this, as well as question the IPCC report, and also cite a paper which severely criticised the recent Stern Review and “concluded that Stern’s claim that the sceintific evidence for greenhouse gas induced serious global warming and climate change was overwhelming was just an assertion and was wrong.”
It no doubt is true to say that one individual mine will not have a substantial impact on annual global carbon emissions, but it does raise the dilemma of death by a thousand cuts. If you assess each mine individually, each won’t have a significant impact, but cumulatively they do. I guess that’s all the more reason why an accurate carbon pricing signal and consistent overarching policy settings from government are preferable to having a fight about each individual mining project.
This link goes to the transcript of an ABC radio report on the judgment.