As you know, the G20 Leaders Summit is on this weekend in Brisbane and world leaders are gathering to talk about issues ranging from development, employment, taxation, infrastructure, investment and trade.
But not climate change.
Meanwhile the coal industry is at the G20, working to secure greater subsidies and less regulation of their deadly product. Coal causes hundreds of thousands of premature deaths each year, largely from exposure to air pollution from coal fired power plants in developing nations.
Leading climate and energy scientists from around the world say any further expansion of coal is incompatible with avoiding dangerous climate change. Coal must be quickly substituted for zero emission technologies, and the majority of fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground.
The Qld Premier Campbell Newman recently claimed those opposing Australia’s coal exports are “condemning people in China, but particularly in India, who live in poverty, condemning them to that poverty.”
He went on to say: “To take 1.3 billion people in India out of poverty is going to require significant energy, and coal particularly is what they’re after.”
India doesn’t want our coal
This might come as something of a surprise to the people of India, wrote Indian energy policy analyst Shankar Sharma in an open letter to the Qld Premier last week:
“This statement, if reported correctly, indicates to me that you did not have the benefit of effective briefing by your officers.
Not only is it “highly irrational to assume that everyone in 1.3 billion is poor,” writes Mr Sharma, but “it is surprising that it seems that you have not been briefed on the social and environmental aspects of burning large quantities of coal in a densely populated and resource constrained country like India.”
The Indian Energy Minister Piyush Goyal has just told the World Economic Forum they will be investing US$100bn in renewable energy in the next five years.
Coal isn’t the answer to energy access. Access to electricity for poor people in the developing world can be provided much more cheaply and cleanly with renewable energy, with none of the risks to health posed by fossil fuels, or the associated greenhouse gas emissions.
The coal industry plan to expand, regardless of the damage they cause
Coal industry leaders know their days are numbered. That’s why they have engaged Burson-Marsteller, the PR company which handled the PR for the 1984 Union Carbide gas leak in Bhopal, India and formerly made a living spruiking the benefits of tobacco.
Now they’ve helped Peabody Energy and others set up the Advanced Energy for Life campaign, aimed at influencing world leaders to help them “fight energy poverty” and suggesting that without access to coal, the developed world will forever be consigned to poverty. In an extraordinary display of hubris, they even claim “coal is key to human health and welfare, along with a clean environment.”
As they make plain in this video, their goal is to secure policy commitments from world leaders at the G20 that support the expansion of coal.
We can’t let this happen!
As health and medical professionals, we can’t just stand back and allow the coal industry to wreck the planet and cause the deaths of thousands of people in this callous and calculated pursuit of profit.
The industry is on the attack – just last week, when CAHA President and Australian National University climate and health researcher Dr Liz Hanna responded to the sobering findings of the latest IPCC report by pointing to the dangers of Australian coal exports, Minerals Council CEO Brendan Pearson responded by suggesting Dr Hanna was “unable to distinguish between ideological prejudice and scholarship”!
What can you do?
Write a letter to the editor or an opinion piece for publication in one of the major newspapers or online publications expressing your concerns about the unfettered expansion of coal in Australia and the risks it poses to people’s health and the climate.
Courier Mail use this online form
Brisbane Times use this online form
The Australian firstname.lastname@example.org
Sydney Morning Herald email@example.com
The Age use this online form
The Adelaide Advertiser use this online form
The Canberra Times firstname.lastname@example.org
The West Australian email@example.com
The Hobart Mercury use this online form
Northern Territory News use this online form
Croakey (health blog at Crikey) firstname.lastname@example.org
Climate Spectator email@example.com
Renew Economy firstname.lastname@example.org
The New Daily email@example.com
Hit the airwaves
ABC Radio Brisbane 1300 222 612
4BC 13 13 32
ABC Radio National 1300 225 576
Get cracking on social media
- Twitter – tweet the Premier @theqldpremier and let him know your thoughts on the matter (use these hash tags: #climate #coal #climate2014 #renewables #G20)
- Facebook – share these infographics here here and here and some of the links below
Need more information?
Here are some links to recent reports:
- Lagging Behind: Australia and the Global Response to Climate Change (The Climate Council)
- The fossil fuel bailout: G20 subsidies for oil, gas and coal exploration (Overseas Development Institute / Oil Change International)
- Fossil fuel exploration subsidies: Australia (Overseas Development Institute / Oil Change International)
- Energy access (Carbon Tracker)
- Mining the age of entitlement (The Australia Institute)
- The mouse that roars: Coal in the Queensland economy (The Australia Institute)
- Unburnable carbon (Carbon Tracker)
Here are some useful newspaper articles:
- Take it from us: India needs renewables, not more Australian coal (The Guardian)
- Solar, not coal, best option for world’s poor – IEA (RenewEconomy)
- Renewables as clean as you would expect (Scientific American)
- ‘Coal exports a killer for thousands’, says ANU academic Elizabeth Hanna (The Australian)
- Not so cheap: Australia needs to acknowledge the real cost of coal (The Conversation)
- Australia, India’s dirty energy friend (SBS News)
- Tony’s Abbott’s ‘coal is good’ line is familiar, and troubling (The Guardian)
Here are some recent health / medical journal articles:
- A critical decade for energy transitions (Australian New Zealand Journal of Public Health)
- Climate change: health risks mount while Nero fiddles (Medical Journal of Australia)
- Open letter to the Hon Tony Abbott MP urging the Prime Minister to include human-induced climate change and its serious health consequences on the agenda at the G20 (Medical Journal of Australia)
Here are some resources on coal and health:
- Health and Energy Choices Position Paper (PHAA, ANMF, SARRAH, NTN, AMSA, WHE, CAHA)
- Joint statement on Health Effects of Coal (CAHA and Climate Council)
- The unpaid health bill (Health and Environment Alliance)
- Health and Energy Policy: Briefing Paper (CAHA)
- The Human Cost of Power (CAHA and PHAA)
- How coal burns Australia (DEA)
More useful resources on http://endcoal.org/