No setback for coal port expansion

The Queensland Government’s rejection of the Multi-Cargo Facility (MCF), a proposed coal terminal development at Abbot Point, has been reported as a setback to the coal export industry. It is not. Indeed, it clears the way for an even larger terminal proposed by Clive Palmer’s company Waratah.

Abbot Point currently exports 50 million tonnes per year (Mt/yr) of coal. The cancelled MCF project would have added 180 Mt/yr. But its cancellation removes competition for Waratah’s plans to export an even more massive 240 Mt/yr. There are also three other terminals proposed by BHP (60 Mt/yr), GVK/Hancock (60 Mt/yr), and Adani (35 Mt/yr).

Together, if all these projects go ahead, Abbot Point’s coal export capacity in 2020 could be up to 445 Mt/yr, more than three times the size of the world’s largest coal port today. Assuming each tonne of coal burned emits 2.7 tonnes of CO2, that amounts to 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 per year, twice the size of Australia’s entire domestic emissions and 4% of current global emissions.

All this is occuring as humanity is fast running out of time to prevent dangerous global warming. Instead of recklessly racing to multiply our coal exports, Australia should reduce them to 0 tonnes of coal per year.

See this previous post for more information on Australia’s ill-advised fossil fuel export boom.

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