The government’s intention to reject a new coal mine will not affect other fossil fuel projects in the pipeline, the prime minister says.
Anthony Albanese says broad implications cannot be drawn from the foreshadowing of the rejection of the Queensland Clive Palmer mine due to expected damage to the Great Barrier Reef.
Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek announced the proposed decision Thursday, citing the likely impact on the reef’s water resources and World Heritage values.
Conservation groups expect the decision to be officially made after 10 days of mandatory consultation.
The prime minister was asked on Friday whether the government was beginning to do what the Greens had long demanded and block new oil and gas projects.
“No,” he told TSWT, saying the environment minister has a duty to consider new projects on a case-by-case basis.
“The Greens have a different stance than Labor on these issues. You can’t just change an economy through rhetoric. You have to do it with coherent plans that make sure you transition and grow the economy while you do it.”
Greens leader Adam Bandt has said Mr Palmer’s mine – 6 miles from the Great Barrier Reef near Rockhampton – is one of 114 new fossil fuel projects in the pipeline and needs to be blocked so they don’t worsen climate change.
But Climate Change Secretary Chris Bowen said he was exaggerating and that “just because a company has a project somewhere that they say could someday come to fruition” doesn’t mean they would all come true.
“So there isn’t a list of 114 projects waiting and ready to go, as Adam suggests. It just doesn’t make sense,” he told TSWT.
Greens’ environmental spokesperson Sarah Hanson-Young said the list was a mix of coal and gas projects, some of which were in the proposal stage and others on the verge of starting or halfway through applying for environmental approvals.
She said none should be approved until federal environmental laws are changed to include a trigger to force the minister to look at their climate change impacts.
“They will not be able to meet their (emission reduction) targets if they continue to approve new polluting projects. And that goal is to reduce the pollution that already exists,” Senator Hanson-Young told AAP.
“They need a good mechanism to assess pollution and make sure they know the real impact of green light on a new coal or gas project.
“The craziest thing about the laws that exist now is that a miner or big company that wants to drill for gas doesn’t even have to provide the information about climate pollution to the government. It just doesn’t make sense.”