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Queensland’s new greenhouse gas guidelines put new fossil fuel projects to the test but let existing operators off the hook

Lock the Gate Alliance welcomes new draft guidelines (available herethat will clarify Queensland decision making powers to consider emissions generated overseas from coal and gas mined in the state as part of new fossil fuel projects.

The draft guidelines, released today, follow the landmark Queensland Land Court decision that refused Clive Palmer’s Waratah coal mine earlier this year, where for the first time the court ruled against a coal mine based on the climate impacts and consequent human rights impacts of its downstream overseas emissions.

However, Lock the Gate says the draft guidelines fail to adequately address the problem of greenhouse gas emissions from existing projects, including potent fugitive methane emissions.

Lock the Gate Alliance National Coordinator Ellen Roberts said, “Concerned Queenslanders have fought for decades to have coal and gas companies account for the environmental damage they cause through emissions created when their coal or gas is burnt overseas. 

“It doesn’t matter where the coal and gas is burnt, at the end of the day it all contributes to the climate crisis, which is leading to ever more severe fires, droughts, and floods here in Queensland.

“Lock the Gate Alliance strongly believes downstream greenhouse gas pollution should be considered when local authorities decide the fate of new coal and gas projects. Until the Waratah court decision earlier this year, Scope 3 emissions were not meaningfully considered when approving new fossil fuel projects.

“This is an important step forward, and reflects the global nature of the problem of climate damage. These guidelines don’t shy away from the climate catastrophe the burning of fossil fuels is causing. Thanks to anthropogenic global warming, Queensland is already hotter and dryer on average compared to pre-industrial conditions, and unless governments act fast to decarbonise, weather extremes are only going to intensify.”

Ms Roberts said while the guidelines were a step in the right direction, they didn’t go far enough in part because they won’t apply to existing projects.

“These proposed new rules need significant tightening if greenhouse pollution created through mining coal and gas in Queensland is to actually decrease. Existing coal mines and gas fields vent huge volumes of methane into the atmosphere. This is a potent greenhouse gas and will be the biggest source of Queensland’s domestic emissions by 2030," she said.

“This new government proposal would also allow new super emitting coal and gas projects to adhere only to the weak rules in the Federal Safeguard Mechanism, including letting mining companies offset 100 percent of their emissions. Queenslanders want to see coal and gas companies cleaning up their act, and pulling their weight as agricultural, manufacturing, and other sectors are.”


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