A Coral Cod (Cephalopholis miniata) at Lighthouse Bommie, Ribbon Reef #10, Great Barrier Reef. Photo: Richard Ling via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). www.rling.com/ .
US tax dollars must not finance $1bn Great Barrier Reef destruction!
20th February 2015
A powerful call has gone out the the US Export-Import Bank not to finance a massive coal mine, railway, port terminal and dredged 'canal' through Australia's Great Barrier Reef with $1 billion in loans and guarantees.
If the Export-Import bank puts a single US dollar towards funding this project, it is literally financing the destruction of one of the great natural wonders of the world.
The US Export-Import Bank is on the verge of financing one of the world's most destructive projects: India-based Adani Group's massive Carmichael coal mine in Australia's Galilee Basin.
The project also includes a new railway to carry the coal to a new export terminal at Abbots Point, Queensland, and a new sea 'canal' dredged through the Great Barrier Reef to allow the passage of coal freighters.
But a determined coalition of scientists, business owners, Australian elected officials, and civil society groups from the US and Australia have called 'foul' in a letter to US Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg.
"The Adani coal project alone is expected to result in an estimated 7.6 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions over its lifetime", the letter states. "Damage to the Great Barrier Reef has also resulted from reckless coastal industrial development, such as massive ports and liquefied natural gas complexes that have compelled UNESCO to consider classifying the reef as a 'World Heritage in Danger'.
"This includes two liquefied natural gas projects that received nearly five billion dollars in public financing from the Export Import Bank under your direction. In our view, this financing violates US law , as may US government financing for Adani’s coal export project."
Friends of the Earth US President Erich Pica said: "Chairman Hochberg should refuse to provide financing to any project that would harm the precious Great Barrier Reef. To do otherwise would contradict President Obama's call to protect this special place for his daughters and grandchildren and his State of the Union address, at which he called climate change the biggest threat to future generations."
One mine - three countries' CO2
Aside from the immediate environmental destruction, the project would cause 128 million tons of carbon pollution annually - more than Sweden, Norway, and Denmark combined, contradicting the spirit of President Obama's Climate Action Plan and recent climate progress both in the US and abroad.
A decision to finance the Carmichael project would also undermine US credibility on climate issues at home and abroad, including the including the US-China emissions reduction deal, a $3 billion commitment to the Green Climate Fund, and recent climate and clean energy progress in the President's FY2016 budget.
And it would infuriate the generations of climate campaigners that were out protesting around the world last weekend on Global Divestment Day, organised by 350.org, which called on investors, pension funds, foundations and financial institutions everywhere to dump fossil fuels.
Three million tonnes of Barrier Reef seabed to be removed and dumped
If completed, coal will be mined and transported by rail to the coast, where it will be shipped overseas through ports expanded by dredging three million tonnes of seabed from the bottom of the Great Barrier Reef.
"The Great Barrier Reef is under considerable threat from a variety of stressors including climate change, crown of thorns sea stars, and runoff from land", said Dr. Selina Ward, a prominent Queensland Reef scientist at the University of Queensland School of Biological Sciences.
"The Abbot Point port expansion would considerably exacerbate this pressure. This continuing industrialisation of the GBR coastline invites reef degradation, especially from the dredging of the ocean floor, the dumping of the dredge spoil and the enormous increase in carbon emissions from the proposed coal mines."
The recent January 31 election in the State of Queensland saw the biggest swing against a first term government in Australia since 1955. Many Queenslanders rejected the sitting government due to its support for the Galilee Basin coal mines and associated port facilities and their impacts on the Great Barrier Reef.
The Greens achieved their highest ever Queensland election result, and Labor is now forming a government, after that party pledged to prevent any dredge spoil from being dumped in the World Heritage Area or nearby wetlands and to reverse the billions in tax breaks and tax dollar support the previous government promised Adani.
"Queenslanders clearly do not accept the government's destruction of the Reef", said Greens Senator Larissa Waters of Queensland. "The Queensland Government's plans to industrialise the Reef threaten to destroy one of the most precious places on earth, through dredging, shipping and climate change.
"We call on the US Ex-Im Bank to reject any requests for financing of the Abbot Point expansion or associated rail and mine infrastructure. US taxpayer dollars should not be subsidising the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef."
And it's an economic disaster too, conclude major banks
And while Ex-Im is considering backing the project, major financial institutions - including Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC, Barclays, Goldman Sachs, Credit Agricole, and JPMorgan Chase - have publicly rejected the proposal.
"The fact is that this disastrous project would damage a world treasure like the Great Barrier Reef while making our climate crisis even worse. The notion that Ex-Im would use American taxpayer dollars to support it is unconscionable", said John Coequyt, director of the Sierra Club's International Climate Program.
"If the Export-Import bank puts a single US dollar towards funding this project, it is literally financing the destruction of one of the great natural wonders of the world."
Principal source: Friends of the Earth.
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