Monday, February 19, 2007


Queensland's Land and Resources Tribunal has rejected the Queensland Conservation Council's greenhouse gas-based objections to Xstrata Coal Queensland Pty Ltd's proposed extension of the Newlands Coal Mine at Suttor Creek. (The QCC wanted the mine extension disapproved based on the environmental impact of total emissions from the coal, 98.3% of which will occur at end use, mostly overseas).

Bad science! screams Tim Lambert:
Unfortunately, the Tribunal got the science badly wrong, understating the emissions by a factor of 15, making inappropriate comparisons for the emissions, and dismissing the scientific consensus on global warming based on their own erroneous understanding of the science.
Whatever. The Tribunal's president didn't buy the imperfect climate science and wasn't prepared to establish Australia as a greenhouse gas martyr:
Consequently, it would not be appropriate in my view to impose on the grant of this mining lease additional surface area application or environmental authority application, conditions as to the avoiding, reduction or offsetting of GHGs. Apart from having no demonstrated impact on global warming or climate change, any such condition would have (as Dr Stanford said) the real potential to drive wealth and jobs overseas and to cause serious adverse economic and social impacts upon the State of Queensland. Absent universally applied policies for GHG reduction, requiring this mine (and no others) to limit or reduce its GHG emissions would be arbitrary and unfair. That cannot be what our law requires.
Putting the kibosh on an Australian mine isn't going to stop the Japanese buying and using coal but will force them to seek alternate suppliers. This would, of course, hurt Australia. This is, of course, of no consequence to academic Tim Lambert.
Update: Even Lambert's commenters aren't buying his nonsense:
Tim Lambert's points are well taken, both Lowe and Koppenol made errors, but with respect Tim appears not to have noticed Hugh Saddler's crucial distinction between Scope One "direct greenhouse emissions from mining operations" and Scope Three, those from transport of coal to end users here or abroad and their burning of it. According to all protocols on this subject including Kyoto the mine is responsible only for the first Scope, amounting to only 1.37 mt of CO2-e over mine life. The total c82.5 mt of emissions from USE of the coal is the responsibility of the users.
And again:
The current export price of a tonne of coal is around $9.

The current market price for an offset credit for one tonne of CO2-e is around US$4 to US$10 (the lower end is price on the Chicago Climate Market, the upper is the price the World Bank paid recently.)

It's unreasonable to expect the Australian producer to internalise that cost while competing against Brazilian and other developing country exporters.

Update II: Academic John Quiggin reckons the Tribunal's president's past employment as a Queensland counsel renders him suspect:
An interesting aside is that Greg Koppenol’s bio reports that he “appeared as counsel in a large number of cases including some of the most important in Australia’s history – Mabo (No. 2) and Wik.” I was of course interested to find out what role he played in those cases, and unsurprised to find that he appeared for the state of Queensland against both Eddie Mabo and the Wik people.

The legal tactics employed by the state government throughout the Mabo case were deplorable, including personal attacks on Mabo that were irrelevant to the main legal points at issue, but relied on fomenting division among potential claimants. As we have seen in numerous recent cases, the Queensland legal establishment protects its own, and it’s not surprising to see that Koppenol’s career hasn’t suffered in the slightest from this episode.
So here we have Quiggin deploying the same smear tactics against Koppenol as those he deplores Koppenol for supposedly employing against Mabo. In any event, this has stuff all to do with the Tribunal's judgement. Quiggin's sort of like a junior Lambert.


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