Former United States Vice President Al Gore has a message for Australian Prime Minister: “Malcolm, don’t build the mine.”
Al Gore in his message is referring to the government’s plan to allow Indian mining conglomerate Adani to build a mega-mine in North Queensland known as the Carmichael coal mining project.
Mr Gore made this comment during his visit to Australia ahead of the release of An Inconvenient Sequel, the follow up to his Oscar-winning 2006 documentary on global warming. The movie follows Mr Gore as he travels the world giving his famous power point presentation and meeting politicians while championing the need for renewable energy sources to replace fossil fuels.
When asked by news.com.au if he’d ever tried to persuade the Australian government from pursuing the controversial mining project, he seized the opportunity.
“Well if he’s watching, Malcolm don’t build the mine,” he said. “That’s a direct way to do it.”
Critics and environmental groups opposed to the mine have raised concerns that the extra coal exports may damage the Great Barrier Reef as the terminal is located on the coastline of the heritage area. And it’s a danger the former Vice President said amounted to a grim choice.
“I’ll just put it this way, if you had a choice between a huge new coal mine or the Great Barrier Reef, which would you choose?
“I’d take the Great Barrier Reef,” he said.
While Australia’s big banks backed away from helping fund the project, for both business and environmental reasons, last month Adani announced its board had given final investment approval for the Carmichael mine.
However this week the ABC obtained the plan of operations document for the project recently submitted to the Queensland Government, which reportedly raised further questions over the financial validity of the project. The plan covers the next six months of the project but includes practically no activity other than maintaining the site.
“It only really commits Adani to maintaining the existing temporary camp and looking after the signs and roads,” activist Rick Humphries from the Lock the Gate Alliance told the ABC.
He called it a “major embarrassment” for Mr Turnbull and the Premier of Queensland Annastacia Palaszczuk who have backed the mine.
However, Adani’s spokesman in Australia, Ron Watson, said the company expects to have the financing confirmed by the end of the year.