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EXPERT REACTION: Adani endangered bird plan approved by Queensland Government

Embargoed until: Publicly released:
Adani is just one step away from starting construction on one of the country's largest coal mines, after the Queensland Government approved a crucial environmental plan to protect an endangered bird.

Organisation/s: CSIRO, The University of Sydney, The University of Queensland

Expert Reaction

These comments have been collated by the Science Media Centre to provide a variety of expert perspectives on this issue. Feel free to use these quotes in your stories. Views expressed are the personal opinions of the experts named. They do not represent the views of the SMC or any other organisation unless specifically stated.

Professor Rosemary Lyster is an expert in Climate and Environmental Law at the University of Sydney

Chief Judge of the NSW Land and Environment Court, Brian Preston, said that the Rocky Hill Coal project was in the ‘wrong place at the wrong time’. The same is true of Adani. There is no justification for it on environmental and climate change grounds. It is an ill-conceived project and should not be permitted. Climate scientists’ warnings are clear. We need to progress towards net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, or shortly thereafter. The Adani mine is a mega mine – mega in terms of how much coal will be dug out of the ground and how many tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions it will produce when the coal is burnt overseas. These emissions will have devastating impacts on people and ecosystems all around the world. We are already witnessing floods, bushfires and cyclones ripping through cities, regions and across islands causing billions of dollars in economic loss and leaving untold suffering in their wake. These are all intensified by climate change. Adani will also impact on Indigenous peoples’ rights. It will impact biodiversity, not just locally, but globally as it contributes to climate change. Politicians know all this. They’re just too scared of voters for whom they’ve failed to offer alternative jobs in the green economy.

Last updated: 03 Jun 2019 10:31am
Declared conflicts of interest:
None declared.
Dr April Reside is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science at The University of Queensland

The proposed site of Adani’s Carmichael Coal Mine is the site of the best remaining habitat for the Black-throated finch – an endangered species that has lost over 80% of its original extent.

Adani’s Black-throated Finch Management Plan received a scathing review from threatened species experts from across Australia, and from the Black-throated Finch Recovery Team. Despite this scathing assessment, the QLD Government approved it today.

There is no scientific evidence that offsets could mitigate the loss of Black-throated Finch, particularly the best habitat that remains. Adani’s Black-throated Finch Management Plan falls a long way short of a plan that could conserve the Black-throated Finch.

Without genuine efforts to stop the loss of critical habitat for endangered species, Australia will continue to lead the world in species extinctions.

Last updated: 31 May 2019 12:44pm
Declared conflicts of interest:
April is a member of the BTF Recovery team.
Dr Mathew Crowther is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Sydney

The species of much controversy in the Adani Carmicheal mine proposal is the Black-throated Finch, an endangered bird species. The bird’s current stronghold is in the Galilee Basin, which is the site of the Adani Carmicheal mine.

The problem is due to past habitat loss caused by land-modification (mainly for agriculture), with cattle eating much of the grass it depends upon, the finch now has only 12% of its original habitat. The problem is that the finch is a species that is in great decline, and habitat modification from the mine could have serious implications for its continual survival.

Last updated: 31 May 2019 12:42pm
Declared conflicts of interest:
None declared.
CSIRO official statement on the Adani Carmichael proposal

In late 2018 and early 2019 CSIRO and Geoscience Australia wrote two reports for the Federal Government on specific questions on groundwater monitoring, management and modelling planned by Adani Pty Ltd for its Carmichael mine proposal in central Queensland.

This advice was limited to answering discrete inquiries on whether elements of Adani's proposed plans would be adequate to protect nationally significant environmental assets.

CSIRO identified inadequacies in the plans and was subsequently asked to review Adani's response to the recommendations CSIRO made to address the issues raised, as summarised by the Department of the Environment and Energy. Adani had committed to address the modelling limitations identified by the CSIRO and GA review in a groundwater model re-run to be undertaken within two years.

CSIRO considered that this commitment satisfied its recommendations, while also acknowledging there were still some issues that need to be addressed in future approvals, particularly confirming the source of the ecologically-important Doongmabulla Springs.

CSIRO has provided robust, peer-reviewed science on specific groundwater modelling-related questions about the plans. CSIRO's role is to provide scientific advice to inform approval processes, but it does not have any role in making approval decisions.

Last updated: 31 May 2019 12:41pm
Declared conflicts of interest:
None declared.

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