Today’s quarterly report announcement by Whitehaven Coal that its board has “approved commencement of early mining” of coal from its Vickery mine is an outrageous move which trashes the climate and further destroys Whitehaven’s reputation.
Faced with unequivocal climate science, increasingly devastating climate impacts and the imperative to transition away from coal to clean sources of energy, Whitehaven Coal has chosen to dig in on coal and climate denial, showing that it has no business plan other than to expand its coal mining operations forever.
The announcement is a clear signal to Whitehaven investors such as the National Australia Bank (NAB) that they should not continue to finance Whitehaven’s climate denying coal business, and also that it is willing and able to fund its own coal expansions due to its record-breaking, super war profits accrued in the the last year.
This is now the first coal expansion to go ahead after the Albanese Government’s key climate policy, the Safeguard Mechanism, passed Parliament in early April. It is critical that the Environment Minister demonstrates her commitment to climate action by refusing the 28 coal projects currently on her desk, awaiting approval decisions.
The Vickery Coal expansion has previously been the subject of a court challenge by school students who argued that the former Environment Minister owed them a duty of care and shouldn’t have approved this expansion, initially winning their case. The case was overturned on appeal with the former Minister arguing she didn’t owe young people a duty of care.
Anjali Sharma, lead litigant in the court challenge involving the Vickery coal expansion and law student said, “With the record-breaking profits it has raked in over the past year, Whitehaven Coal was in the best position to plan a coal phase out, rehabilitate its mine voids, and look after its workers. Instead its chosen to pour more fuel on the climate crisis and to destroy the future of every young person who will now experience worse bushfires, droughts, heatwaves, storms and sea-level rise thanks to this dirty coal project.”
“Young people are looking to the new Government and specifically to Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek to stand up for them by refusing all new coal and gas proposals currently seeking approval. Minister Plibersek, show us you are listening to the science and that you do care for young people unlike the former Environment Minister by saying no to new fossil fuel projects.”
Fahimah Badrulhisham from the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change said, “This move sends a message to other Whitehaven investors that it’s time to cut ties with this company. Whitehaven is ploughing ahead with Vickery its climate-destroying coal project and is evidently willing and able to fund this themselves. National Australia Bank proudly proclaims their climate ambitions but they are risking their reputation by continuing to fund coal companies that are accelerating the climate crisis. To retain any credibility at all, NAB must immediately rule out further financing of Whitehaven Coal.
“From a Muslim perspective, the extraction of coal upsets the balance of the ecosystem which we have been entrusted to safeguard for all living creatures and future generations. Scientists, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the International Energy Agency, and the global community all agree that we can’t dig and burn more coal if we want to keep global warming at safe levels. The IPCC just released a ‘final warning’ on climate change in their sixth assessment report, and Whitehaven’s response is to plough ahead with development of this new climate-wrecking mine.