An Australian court has rejected a coal mine application for the first time because of climate change.
The mining company Gloucester Resources has attempted to establish a coal mine near the town of Gloucester in the Hunter Valley. Gloucester Resources requested an appeal from The New South Wales Land and Environment Court after a previous government rejection, only to get turned down again.
Australia is the world’s leading coal exporter, but this is the first time they refused a new coal mine due to climate change. Their concerns lie in the potential contribution the mining could have on greenhouse-gas emissions and global warming.
In his ruling, Judge Brian Preston explains his decision to refuse the project because “the greenhouse-gas emissions (GHGs) of the coal mine and its product will increase global total concentrations of GHGs at a time when what is now urgently needed, in order to meet generally agreed climate targets, is a rapid and deep decrease in GHG emissions.”
Additionally, the report from environmental group Lock the Gate found that less than a third of the mined lands in Hunter Valley go through soil and vegetation rehabilitation, leaving an estimate of 18,000 hectares of land untreated. Under New South Wales law, mining companies are required to restore the grounds; however, there are no actual legal requirements to do so. There is a possibility that if they continue to abandon the mines; the mine rehabilitation costs will have to come from the taxpayers.
Nogrady, Bianca. “Landmark Australian Ruling Rejects Coal Mine over Global Warming.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 11 Feb. 2019, www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00545-8.