Scientists pen open letter to Plibersek over coal and gas

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek sits in audience (letter coal gas)
Tanya Plibersek

Eighty-two leading Australian climate and environmental scientists have delivered an open letter to Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek asking her to consider the climate impact of burning coal and gas when assessing proposals for new fossil fuel projects. 

The Climate Council’s open letter is written in support of the Environment Council of Central Queensland’s legal intervention, which uses a section of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act (EPBC) to urge Minister Plibersek to reconsider approvals of previous Environment Ministers. 

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They argue any new approvals should be based on the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions on ‘matters of national significance’ including impact on endangered species, the Great Barrier Reef and protected wetlands.

Chief Climate Councillor Professor Tim Flannery—a signatory to the letter—said, “Climate change is one of the biggest threats to the precious flora and fauna which call Australia home, and it’s high time that any assessment of new coal and gas project proposals looks at how they worsen climate change.

“Australia’s environment is deteriorating, and we need evidence-based policies to protect the animals, plants, and places we love. Opening our eyes to the climate damage caused by burning coal and gas is the only science-backed way forward.”

Professor Hilary Bambrick, Climate Councillor and director of the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, said, “We need a healthy environment and a safe climate to protect the well-being of Australians and we cannot achieve this while greenlighting new coal and gas projects that worsen climate change.

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“From the devastating floods and bushfires to increasingly dangerous heatwaves and the faster spread of infectious diseases, Australians will continue to pay for climate change with their health. Our elected representatives must spare no effort to better protect our communities. This begins with heeding the science that any new coal or gas project worsens climate change endangers lives. Transitioning away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources is essential if we care at all about health.”

Signatories to the letter include high-profile names such as Professor Tim Flannery, Professor Brendan Wintle, Adjunct Professor Bill Hare, Professor Anne Poelina, Professor Jodie Rummer, Associate Professor Robyn Schofield, Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, and Professor Kathryn Bowen.

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