Adani project is a global climate issue warns campaigner

One of the leading campaigners against coal firm Adani’s controversial plans to open a new mine in Queensland has warned the impact will not be confined to the state or Australia itself.

Pablo Brait has been one of the leaders of the campaign to halt Adani’s Carmichael mining project and he told Emerging Risks the campaign to get the world’s insurers to refuse to cover the project continues to bear fruit.

In recent weeks the campaign has moved to London where protestors have lobbied outside of the Lloyd’s building to ask the market to tell its syndicates not to cover the project.

The scheme itself has been subject to huge controversy in Australia where should it be undertaken will be the first mine to tap into a giant thermal coal basin in Queensland in the country’s north.

It also involves the building of a major railway network which will link the mine and the basin with the Queensland coast.

Both the Australian federal and Queensland state governments have supported the Adani plan but Queensland has sought to ensure that no public funding was given to the development of the mine facilities or the railway construction.

However, after elections last week Adani have been told that they will be able to defer the scheduled payments to Queensland for the export of the coal.

Australia is rank as the second biggest exporter of coal and gas in the world and the Adani project has the potential to significantly add to the country’s coal output in the coming decade.

“The project has been delayed for seven years, but Adani has said it expect the first coal to begin to be exported from the mine in the second half of 2021,” explained Mr Brait. “This plan is a new thermal coal mine in an untapped thermal coal basin. When it is at full capacity it will be the biggest coal mine in Australia.”

He added the plans were that once the railway infrastructure was completed there would be six new mines created to further exploit the basin.

“In terms of climate change this is globally significant,” Mr Brait added. “It will also have the potential to depress the price of coal and with it delay any moves toward renewable energy sources.”

Mr Brait added on a local level  the area  around the mine contained endangered species and is surrounded by agricultural operations, with farmers in the region fearful of the amount of water the project will consume and the impact on their business given the rising threat of drought across Queensland.

“The export of the coal will also see more vessels transit the Great Barrier Reef area to and from the port facility.”

As such Mr Brait said the campaign had sought to seek support from financial institutions not to support the development of the mine.

“It is quite frankly insane that we are looking at a project such as this at a time when the world is looking at how it can combat climate change,  reduce greenhouse emissions and drive sustainability,” he added.

So far, the group have received assurances from 89 firms that they will not participate in the finance or insurance of the project.

Of the 89 firms 27 are insurers of which 17 have operations within Lloyd’s.

“We have been pleased to see the major insurers have made it clear they do not want any involvement the project,” he explained. “They include all the major Australian insurers, and major underwriters in Europe and North America. The question has to be asked if they want to operate who is going to insure them?

“We want to get to the point where there is few is any places that Adani can find insurance cover for the project.”

While the campaigners have been able to contact and engage with a number of underwriting entities there are still a few on their list.

“We would like to talk to some of the major Lloyd’s insurers such s Hiscox, Bris and Arch,” added Mr Brait. “We are making progress but we will not stop our campaign.”