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Greenpeace Report: coal & gas exports threaten Great Barrier Reef

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  • Gideon Polya
    Greenpeace has released an important report entitled Boom Goes the Reef. Australia s coal export boom and the industrialisation of the Great Barrier Reef ,
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 2, 2012
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      Greenpeace has released an important report entitled "Boom Goes the
      Reef. Australia's coal export boom and the industrialisation of the
      Great Barrier Reef", March 2012:
      http://www.greenpeace.org/australia/Global/australia/reports/Download%20\
      the%20report.pdf
      <http://www.greenpeace.org/australia/Global/australia/reports/Download%2\
      0the%20report.pdf> .



      Key quotes: "Capacity for [Queensland] coal exports by 2020: 944
      million tonnes. That's enough to fill a coal train and wrap it 4.5
      times around the world. Coal throughput in 2011: 156 million tonnes
      …



      Number of coal ships in 2011: 1,722. Number of coal ships in 2020:
      10,150 (more than one per hour all year)…



      Proposed and approved dredged material removed from the Great Barrier
      Reef would fill 67 MCGs or 113,184, 000 m3 ([MCG=] Melbourne Cricket
      Ground)…



      The permanent destruction of the Great Barrier Reef would be both an
      environmental and economic disaster. But it is the reality we face
      today. Significant industrialisation has already taken place in and
      around the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. This will be dwarfed
      if the proposed coal and gas expansions are approved…



      The findings of the UNESCO monitoring mission will de discussed at the
      World Heritage Convention in St Petersburg in the Russian Federation in
      June and July this year. There is the possibility that UNESCO will
      declare the Great Barrier Reef "in danger" as a result of the
      government failing to address the cumulative industrial impacts facing
      the reef …



      Sacrificing the Great Barrier Reef for industrial excess cannot be an
      option. Today, we still have the opportunity to protect it, but that
      window is closing fast."



      To put this in a wider context, the Great Barrier Reef and indeed most
      world coral reefs are also acutely threatened by man-mad global
      warming. In 2011 the atmospheric CO2 reached 394 ppm and was
      increasing at 2.4 ppm per year (see Mauna Loa CO2, US NOAA:
      http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/
      <http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/> ) . At 450 ppm atmospheric
      CO2 (in about 23 years' time at this rate) most coral will be doomed
      from bleaching due to expulsion of symbiotic photosynthetic microalgal
      zooxanthellae (due to ocean warming) and from inability to make the
      calcareous exoskeleton (due to ocean acidification) (see 300.org –
      return atmosphere CO2 to 300 ppm":
      https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/300-org---return-atmosphere-co2\
      -to-300-ppm
      <https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/300-org---return-atmosphere-co\
      2-to-300-ppm> ).

      Australia is one of the World's worst annual per capita greenhouse
      gas polluters. Success in "tackling climate change" is surely
      measured in terms of GHG pollution reduction but Australia's
      Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution increased from 1,077 Mt CO2-e (CO2
      equivalent) in 2000 to 1,415 million tonnes CO2-e in 2009 and is
      expected to reach about 1,799 Mt CO2-e by 2020 and 4,490b Mt CO2-e in
      2050. However Treasury ABARE and US EIA data show the following
      Australian Domestic and Exported GHG pollution (in millions of tonnes of
      CO2-equivalent, Mt CO2-e) for Australia under the now-legislated
      Australian Carbon Price plan (see "2011 Climate Change Course":
      https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/2011-climate-change-course
      <https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/2011-climate-change-course>
      ):

      2000: 555 (Domestic) + 505 (coal exports) + 17 (LNG exports) = 1,077.

      2009: 600 (Domestic) + 784 (coal exports) + 31 (LNG exports) = 1,415.

      2010: 578 (Domestic) + 803 (coal exports) + 34 (LNG exports) = 1,415.

      2020: 621 (Domestic) + 1,039 (black coal exports) + 80 (LNG exports) +
      59 (brown coal exports) = 1,799.

      2050: 527 (Domestic) + 2902 (coal exports) + 1,061 (LNG exports) =
      4,490.

      In 2009 the German Advisory Council on Climate Change (WBGU;
      Wissenshaftlicher Beirat der Bundesregierung Globale
      Umweltveränderungen) determined that for a 75% chance of avoiding a 2
      degree C temperature rise, the World must pollute less than 600 Gt CO2
      (600 billion tonnes CO2) between 2010 and essentially zero emissions in
      2050. Unfortunately Australia (through disproportionately huge annual
      fossil fuel burning and exports) had already used its "fair
      share" of this terminal greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution budget and is
      now stealing the entitlement of impoverished countries like Somalia and
      Bangladesh with very low annual per capita GHG pollution (see
      "Shocking analysis by country of years left to zero emissions",
      Green Blog, 1 August 2011:

      http://www.green-blog.org/2011/08/01/shocking-analysis-by-country-of-yea\
      rs-left-to-zero-emissions/
      <http://www.green-blog.org/2011/08/01/shocking-analysis-by-country-of-ye\
      ars-left-to-zero-emissions/> ).

      Dr Gideon Polya, Melbourne.



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