Australia’s new government announced on Thursday (4/8) it plans to prevent the development of coal mines because of the possible impact on the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef that the country is proud of.
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said she would not approve the Central Queensland Coal Project in the northwestern city of Rockhampton, Queensland.
This government decision is in line with the wishes of the Green Party. The minority party had previously pressured the centre-left Labor government, which was elected in May, to refuse approval of new coal or gas mining projects to help reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.
“Based on the information available at this stage, I believe that the project is likely to have a detrimental impact on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and its World Heritage and National Heritage values,” Plibersek said in a statement.
Proponents of the coal mine development project have 10 working days to respond to the proposed rejection before the environment minister makes a final decision.
The Greens welcomed the news and urged the minister to also reject 26 other coal mine plans. “Now we need a complete moratorium on all new coal and gas projects,” Greens leader Adam Bandt said in a statement.
The planned rejection was announced after the House of Representatives passed a bill that would enshrine the government’s ambition to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 43% below 2005 levels by the end of the decade. The bill was passed with 89 votes in favor and 55 votes against.
The government’s previous target was a reduction of between 26 percent and 28 percent, set at the Paris climate conference in 2015. [ab/uh]