As the Arctic melts Australia’s Galilee Basin remains a ticking carbon time-bomb

Press release - 19 September, 2012

Sydney/London/India 19 September, 2012: Mining industry numbers reveal that by allowing coal mining in the untapped Galilee Basin in Queensland, Australia could create more carbon pollution than the entire United Kingdom or Canada.

The numbers, revealed in a new Greenpeace report, Cooking the Climate and Wrecking the Reef, are the first time the full greenhouse impact of the proposed mines has been quantified.  The release comes against a backdrop of Arctic sea ice melt that has just smashed all previous records.
Greenpeace CEO, David Ritter says the scale of the planned mining operations in the Galilee Basin has global implications.
“All the numbers are heading in the wrong direction,” said Ritter. “As the Arctic ice melt plunges new depths, Australia’s coal exports are preparing to soar to new heights – the two are not unrelated.”
“Australia has committed to the aim of keeping global warming under the critical threshold of 2 degrees, exploiting the Galilee makes a mockery of that commitment.”
Australia has begun the process of approving up to nine new mega mines. If these mines proceed the emissions from burning the coal would be over 700 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year. If the Galilee was a country it would be the seventh biggest emitter of carbon dioxide pollution from fossil fuels in the world.
“We mustn’t be fooled into thinking the slowing coal boom will solve this problem,” said Ritter. “It may re-calibrate the timetable, but the approvals are all still sailing through.”
These mines will also exact a terrible cost on farms, water supplies and coastal communities and would also put one of the world’s greatest natural treasures – Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – under very serious threat as it becomes the world’s great coal superhighway.
Greenpeace is calling for a halt to the massive proposed expansion of coal mining and export infrastructure across Queensland.
“On August 25th the world witnessed the biggest Arctic ice melt in summer since records were kept,” said Ritter. “Since then the melt has continued, time is no longer on our side.”
“Whether the Galilee coal resource is exploited will shape the future for our children and our grandchildren. It is not good enough for the government of the day to hide behind the drug dealer’s defence that: ‘I just sell the stuff, what others do with it is their own business,” Ritter declared.
Greenpeace has also today released an animated video about the coal export industry. The report can be downloaded
For further information contact
Julie Macken, media officer: 0400 925 217
(1)    Greenpeace’s ship the Arctic Sunrise is currently in the Arctic on the edge of the summer sea ice melt, hosting scientists from the National Snow and Ice Data Centre.
(2)    [1] For a full briefing on sea ice loss in the Arctic visit
click here