Rally against plans to develop a new coal export industry in Victoria, and the government’s continuing funding of HRL’s proposed new coal power station.
Eleven days ago, eight Quit Coal activists locked together inside Premier Ted Baillieu’s electoral office. The group was calling on the Premier to publicly explain why he deceived Victorians at the last election:
Baillieu promised real action on climate change, while covertly planning a massive brown coal export industry. Figures report
ed in the Herald Sun, suggest that Victoria could be digging up 300 million tonnes of brown coal for export every year; this would triple Victoria’s annual contribution to greenhouse gas pollution! Quit Coal activists filled the Premier’s office with 70 black balloons symbolising the impact of brown coal exports; each balloon represented four million tonnes of carbon dioxide, equivalent to the annual emissions of one million Victorian cars.
After seven hours locked together in the office, the group of eight decided to leave. Despite sustained media attention, personal phone calls and emails, Baillieu refused to publicly acknowledge these community concerns. Check out coverage from channels 7 and 10 here and Fairfax papers here.
The government is intent on trying to ignore concerned groups and affected rural communities, but we will continue to fight Ted’s dirty plan to turn our state into a brown coal quarry. We think it’s time to ramp up pressure on the state government over it’s plans to expand Victoria’s dirty brown coal industry, so join us to protest against new coal power.
Thursday 28 June 12.30pm
Steps of State Parliament, Spring St, Melbourne
Who: Quit Coal, Friends of the Earth, No New Coal Bacchus Marsh, Greenpeace, and YOU!
Yarra Climate Action Now is a proud member of the rural and urban alliance, launched yesterday, calling for a ban across Victoria of all new coal and coal seam gas exploration and development. As of this morning, Forty-five community organisations had joined the alliance.
This call is also backed by the State and Federal Greens. The Victorian Labor Party is supporting a moratorium on coal seam gas development (but not coal).
Friends of the Earth, who put the alliance together, is running a petition. If you haven’t signed it yet, please do so here.
Below is further information about the alliance and the call for a moratorium on new coal and gas developments, taken from Friends of the Earth.
Rural and urban Alliance calls on State Government to ban new fossil fuel projects
Victorian government wants more coal – the community wants farmland and clean water
As Victoria faces a wave of exploration licences for coal seam gas (CSG), coal, and tight gas, there is growing opposition to this industry. “Community groups have formed across the ‘coal belt’ of southern Victoria, from the Otways to Wonthaggi to Toongabbie” said Friends of the Earth campaigns co-ordinator Cam Walker. “Clearly local farmers and residents do not want to see their lands and water sacrificed for short term fossil fuel development.”
“In Queensland and New South Wales there is a massive community backlash against the CSG industry” said Merryn Redenbach, spokesperson for Quit Coal. “Elsewhere in Australia, governments and individual members of parliament are standing up against the growth of CSG exploration and new coal mining in rural and urban areas. Locally, the Bass Coast Council has called for a ban on mining and gas operations, and Liberal MP Ken Smith has supported this demand”.
Mr Walker said “the only response from the government of Ted Baillieu has been to increase opportunities for further coal development. Just this week it was reported that the Baillieu government is working on a strategy to try to head off community objections to its plans to develop Victoria’s brown coal reserves.”
An alliance of 45 groups has today called on the Victorian government to ban all new on-shore coal and un-conventional gas operations until there has been a thorough investigation into the likely impacts of this industry on:
farmland and food security,
local communities and natural biodiversity, and
Sue Anderson, a dairy farmer from near Bunyip, said “the industry needs to provide guarantees for the integrity of aquifers and surface water before it is allowed to proceed. Blind Freddy could see that mining is detrimental to the production of food. In a competition between food and coal seam gas, food has to win.”
“In the specific case of our area in West Gippsland, any government that approves CSG operations where 15% of Melbourne’s food is produced must be both barking mad and broke”.
Community member from Toongabbie, Tracey Anton, said “rural communities, state wide, are forming powerful alliances with environmental organisations against new mining explorations and development. Why? Because in our time of need, they are the only ones there to answer our questions. To prevent the social and economic erosion of our communities, will Government and Industry work with us or against us?”
“The government is pretending there is no problem with new fossil fuel developments in Victoria” said Mr Walker. “Recent revelations that it is considering new coal allocations shows that they are out of step with community sentiment across rural Victoria. It is time they made their position clear: will they support a call for a moratorium?”
For further comment:
Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth 0419 338 047
Alternative Technology Association
Ararat Greenhouse Action Group Inc
Australian Youth Climate Coalition
Benalla Sustainable Future Group
Beyond Zero Emissions
Brimbank Climate Action Network (BrimbankCAN)
Climate Action Moreland
Climate Action Network Australia (CANA)
Climate and Health Alliance
Community Over Mining (Gippsland)
C4 (Communities Combatting Climate Crisis), Healesville
Dandenong Ranges Renewable Energy Assoc Inc
Darebin Climate Action Now
Emerald for Sustainability (EmFSus)
Friends of Bass Valley Bush Inc
Friends of Gippsland Bush Inc. (FOGB)
Friends of the Earth
G CAN [Geelong Chemical Action Network Inc]
Global Warming Action Party Australia, East Gippsland
Gippsland Environment Group Inc (Bairnsdale)
Gippsland Action Group
Greenpeace Australia Pacific
Groundswell Bass Coast
Grow Lightly South Gippsland
Healesville Environment Watch Inc.
Latrobe Valley Sustainability Group
Locals Into Victoria’s Environment (LIVE)
Lock The Gate Alliance
MADGE Australia Inc
Melton Community Supported Agriculture
Moonee Valley Climate Action
Nillumbik Climate Action Now
Riddells Creek Sustainability
Surf Coast Energy Group
The Wilderness Society
Western Regional Environment Centre
Wodonga Albury Towards Climate Health (WATCH)
WTree Progress & Promotion Association
Yarra Climate Action Now
Adam Bandt, Federal MP for Melbourne
Richard Di Natale, Senator for Victoria
Colleen Hartland, State Upper House MP for Western Metropolitan
Greg Barber, State Upper House MP for Northern Metropolitan
What are people saying about a moratorium & fossil fuel impacts on rural Victoria?
The state opposition supports the call for a moratorium on new coal-seam gas exploration.
Opposition energy spokeswoman Lily D’Ambrosio said there were growing concerns about coal-seam gas projects. ”New evidence has emerged that raises questions about the safety, health and environmental impacts of coal seam gas exploration, and it’s important these concerns are fully investigated”.
The VFF issued a stronger statement after we launched our call for a moratorium:
“Farmers are calling on the Vic Coalition Government to extend wind farm veto laws to cover coal seam gas projects. The VFF’s Gerald Leach says landholders should have the right to veto mining on their property. He says farmers are concerned coal seam gas mining could cause long-term damage to aquifers and their land. Leach says the Vic Government has given landholders the right to veto in respect to wind towers”.
ABC Gippsland (Sale), 08:30 News – 13/04/2012
In March 2012, the Bass Coast shire voted to reject exploration for coal and gas within its jurisdiction.
Colac Otway shire mayor Brian Crook said in 2011 that a ban on exploration was essential until the government improved its “seriously flawed” consultation process and could assess the impact of mining.
“Until we have the process evaluated and there is a 100-per-cent guarantee there will be no impact on aquifers and the community is happy with it, coal-seam gas exploration must stop,” Cr Crook said.
He said the council called for the mining companies to abandon exploration and would push for the support of major political parties in the Colac district’s fight against coal-seam mining.
State MP for Bass (Gippsland) and Liberal party member Ken Smith has supported the call for a ban on exploration for coal and gas within his electorate. http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2012/03/23/460155_latest-news.h…
“We’ve got a farming community down here and the last thing that we need to have now is people exploring the countryside from the shoreline up into the hills looking to dig the place up,”
The Weekly Times editorial: “The risks of mining CSG are real; the benefits temporary and the profits go to mining fat-cats”.
A polluted aquifer could end food production in an agricultural region indefinitely – a contaminated aquifer is impossible to decontaminate”.
“The Victorian government needs to show it will not be pushed around by mining giants.
It should declare prime food-producing land off-limits to mining”.
The Victorian State Government is currently considering a plan to offer mining licenses for large reserves of brown coal, with the aim of kick-starting a brown coal export industry in Victoria. They are also considering a taxpayer funded public relations campaign, on behalf of the coal companies, to convince Victorians that brown coal is great.
Mining companies are already lining up to bid for the right to dig up billions of tonnes of brown coal, in some of Victoria’s most productive agricultural regions.
This comes on top of the Baillieu Government’s destruction of the wind energy industry and is occurring alongside their destruction of the solar energy industry (they aim to get rid of the solar feed-in tariff for rooftop solar).
Under any reasonable analysis, this plan is indefensible. The only beneficiaries are the coal companies, who happen to donate money to the Liberal and National Parties.
There is a lot of misinformation and corporate propaganda flying around on this issue, so Yarra Climate Action Now wants to clear the air with a few key points:
1. There’s no such thing as “clean coal”.
Brown coal is the dirtiest and most polluting fossil fuel used in Australia. Some of the “new” technologies proposed for treating the brown coal (which the coal lobby deceptively refers to as “clean” or “pristine” coal) will only reduce brown coal’s greenhouse gas emissions to the level of black coal, or at best, fossil gas. This is far from clean and nowhere near the zero emissions status of renewable energy.
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) which is also sometimes referred to as “clean coal” doesn’t exist, and is still only theoretical. Even its most enthusiastic proponents say it will not be ready for at least another 20 years, by which time renewable energy will be far cheaper anyway.
“Clean” coal is nothing but a delay strategy put forward by the coal lobby to slow down the roll-out of renewable energy and ensure they can keep making obscene profits for a little while longer.
2. Baillieu’s plan will increase electricity prices.
Baillieu’s destruction of the wind energy industry already means that Victorians will be paying billions more for our electricity than we otherwise would be. A brown coal export industry will expose Victorians to international pricing for coal, something we are shielded from since brown coal is not currently exported. This will increase domestic coal prices and increase the cost of electricity production in Victoria.
3. Brown coal development will kill jobs.
If you invest your money in one thing, then you don’t have money to invest in another. Money going into brown coal development will reduce the amount of money going into renewable energy technologies. And guess what! Renewable energy is far more jobs-rich than fossil fuel technologies are.
The Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan calculated that if we transitioned our whole economy to one that is run by 100% renewable energy, 40,000 permanent jobs would be created, and 20,000 jobs would be lost. That is, for every job lost in the fossil fuel sector, 2 jobs would be created in the renewable energy sector due to its higher labour needs.
If the money going into brown coal was shifted to building renewable energy and establishing a renewable energy components manufacturing industry, then far more jobs would be created, and they would be sustainable for the long term too.
4. Investing in coal is bad for the Victorian economy.
“Premier Ted Baillieu’s plan to expand Victoria’s brown coal sector is a blow to our economic credibility.
“The world is switching to renewable energy and brown coal, the dirtiest, least efficient way to generate energy, will be left for dead.
“China is the biggest coal consumer in the world, but it is planning to cap coal imports in 2015. That is only three years away. Victoria’s new brown coal mines will not even be a hole in the ground by then, let alone a viable export industry.
“India is another big coal customer that is turning to renewable energy, because it is more economically viable. The Indian government put an industry plan in place to bring the cost of solar below the cost of coal, by 2022. A review of this ‘Grid Parity’ by KPMG found that it was likely to be reached five years earlier, by 2017!
“The USA is still the economic powerhouse and it sets the global energy agenda. It also has an industry plan like India’s, which will get solar cheaper than brown coal by 2020. That is only eight years away.”
To summarise – the world is shifting away from coal and we will be left with stranded assets and a product no one wants to buy. We should be putting our money into the energy technologies of the present and future, not the 19th Century.
5. A brown coal export industry is a climate disaster.
The climate science is clear. There is already too much carbon in the atmosphere to prevent catastrophic climate change. We need to get to zero emissions and start removing the excess carbon we have been adding to the atmosphere as quickly as is humanly possible.
Brown coal is currently not exported due to its unstable nature. If left at room temperature it can spontaneously combust, making it too dangerous to transport long distances. If the coal companies get their way and they can develop technologies to make brown coal suitable for export, then more coal will be exported, making coal more accessible to countries currently deciding their energy futures and thereby delaying the urgent and necessary transition to zero-emissions technologies.
6. This brown coal plan will reduce our food security.
Coal mines are planned for Bacchus Marsh and many other areas in Victoria, particularly Gippsland. These are some of the most agriculturally productive regions in Victoria, supplying Melbourne and many other places with fresh fruits, vegetables, grain and dairy products. With the impacts of the climate crisis, including droughts, floods and heatwaves, reducing our ability to produce food globally, the productive land we do have is becoming more and more precious.
No matter what the coal industry says, we can’t eat coal. Food security is more important than the profits of mining companies.
7. We don’t even need coal anyway.
We already have the renewable energy technology to get to 100% renewable energy and replace the baseload power we get from coal and gas. Renewable energy is rapidly dropping in price, and the more we build it, the cheaper it gets. Contrast this to coal and gas prices which are set to become even more volatile and will just keep going up in the long term. We don’t need coal anymore to produce our electricity.
The Greens have already come out and rightly condemned this plan, saying they will fight it. As has the Bass Coast Shire Council (Wonthaggi) and even the state Liberal Member of Parliament for that area, Ken Smith. The Federal Labor Party has continued its usual support of the fossil fuel lobby by saying they will allow a brown coal export industry to be developed, while the State Labor Party maintains an unprincipled silence (we have contacted our two state members of parliament, Bronwyn Pike and Richard Wynne, and await their responses).
To help stop this insane proposal please sign the petition here. If you want to get more actively involved (and unless more people do, then this will go ahead) please contact us or Quit Coal.
The fossil fuel industry is sure getting their money’s worth with Ted Baillieu and his Liberal/National Party Government.
In Ted Baillieu’s Victoria, building a wind farm is now almost impossible and the feed-in tariff for solar panels has been cut by over 50%. However, building a coal mine 800m from a primary school is OK, and if a mining company wants to dig for coal or drill for gas in your backyard, polluting our land, water and air, there’s nothing you can do about it.
Last week the Baillieu Government attacked renewable energy on two fronts. First, they introduced new planning laws that allow anyone within 2km of a proposed wind farm to veto the proposal. The Clean Energy Council estimates that this will cost Victoria $3.6 billion and thousands of jobs, as wind energy companies move to other states and other countries. Victoria’s population density means that it will be virtually impossible to build any more large-scale wind farms beyond the ones which already have planning approval.
However, destroying the wind energy industry wasn’t enough for Ted, two days later he announced that the feed-in tariff for solar panels (photovoltaics) was being cut from 60 cents per kilowatt hour (60c/kWh) guaranteed for 15 years, to 25c/kWh, guaranteed for 5 years. Estimates are that this will blow-out the payback period for putting solar panels on your roof (the time it takes before the amount you save on electricity covers the amount you spent on the panels) from around 7 years to around 14 years. Again, thousands of jobs and large sums of investment money will be destroyed.
Not only are Baillieu’s 19th Century energy policies costing jobs, increasing our reliance on coal and damaging our economy, they will also result in higher electricity prices. When the wind is blowing, or the sun shining on a hot day, wind and solar power can provide electricity cheaper than coal and gas power plants – driving down the average cost of electricity over a period of time (for more info on this click here).
So the question to ask is why? Why is Ted Baillieu willingly driving up the cost of electricity, cutting jobs and investment? Why is he destroying an industry that has around 90% support amongst the Australian public? Why is he abandoning climate action when he himself voted for a 20% by 2020 emissions reduction in the Victorian Parliament in 2010? The answer to these questions is in who is benefiting from these policies.
As is often the case with energy policy in Australia, the beneficiaries of Baillieu’s policies are the powerful and well-connected fossil fuel industry, in particular the gas and coal-fired electricity generators. As mentioned above, once a certain amount of renewable energy is built into our electricity grid the average wholesale price of electricity begins to fall – eating into the profits of the coal and gas companies. If renewable energy is held back, then these companies can continue to bring in exorbitant profits and consumers get stuck with ever increasing electricity prices and greenhouse gas pollution.
Don’t let Baillieu get away with it. As a start, you can send him an email by clicking here.
Put this one in your diaries! We are having a backwards march to show our anger at how Victoria is going backwards under Baillieu. Sunday 13 November, 1pm, Parliament House.
* Cattle trampling our national parks
* New wind farms blocked and solar energy attacked
* Co2 emissions target ignored
* Endangered species habitat logged
* New coal-fired power station approved and funded with taxpayer money
* Anglesea coal mine continued
* Green Wedges threatened
* Westernport destruction fast-tracked