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Australian Greens latest push to sue coal and gas companies

Party leader Adam Bandt wants to empower legal action against 'climate-fuelled damage'

Australian Greens latest push to sue coal and gas companies
Adam Bandt. ABC.
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Leader of the Australian Greens, Adam Bandt, has said that his party will push to sue companies involved in coal and gas for what he calls ‘climate-fuelled’ flood damage.

The Liability for Climate Change Damage Bill 2021 has been introduced.

Instead of having to prove in a court of law a genuine connection between the fossil fuel industry, the Bill summary states:

‘Provides that fossil fuel companies are liable for climate change damage in proportion to their greenhouse gas emissions; and enables certain persons, including those impacted by climate change, to bring legal actions against major greenhouse gas emitters for damage caused by climate change.’

Which essentially means that every time there’s a storm, a drought, a flood, a bushfire, or any other kind of weather that Australia is famous for, people can turn around and strip money out of mining companies and coal-fired power plants – lowering their profits and ultimately the amount of tax paid into government coffers.

The natural result of this legislation would be for mining companies to leave Australia, forcing the nation into complete foreign dependence at a time when the world seems set to enter a period of conflict – particularly in the Pacific.

Australia is also a major exporter of coal to nations like Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. If coal and gas mining is forced to close (or the price pushed too high), other nations around the world will be forced to replace Australia’s clean coal with coal that is significantly worse for the environment sourced in nations like China. For these countries in particular, the loss of Australian coal could see their national security put at risk.

At the same time, Russia is cutting its coal and gas exports to Europe, placing Australia in the perfect position to replace the market share we lost with China with a more stable European trade. Such a move could save Australia from the recession that’s threatening after Covid and lower the cost of living, helping the poorest Australians. Instead, the Greens’ policy will see prices raise across the board, particularly with electricity which every home needs in the hot summers and cold winters.

Aside from the Greens’ plan being terrible for the environment, it would also strengthen China’s hold over a variety of nations that are currently economically tied to Australia. The Bill, despite being domestic policy, may also be a global security risk.

This problem is even more pronounced, as the Greens’ policy would ultimately leave Australia reliant on Asian coal and gas to produce renewables. In the event that China makes good on its threat to invade Taiwan, Australia would be left defenceless. The Greens' defence policy calls for the ‘decarbonising’ of Australia’s military, cancelling of all foreign debt, and withdrawal of Australia’s military interests from the Pacific.

‘Major emitters of greenhouse gases, including fossil fuel producers and owners or operators of coal-fired power stations, will be liable for climate change damage if their emissions are greater than 1 million tonnes in any 12 month period that began on or after 1 September 2020. The first

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report was released in that year, unambiguously linking fossil fuels to global warming. From at least this time onwards, every fossil fuel corporation that actively knew about the consequences of their actions earlier, liability will attach from that earlier date.’

Forcing Australia’s few baseload energy providers to pay for natural disasters that they didn’t cause could push the price of electricity up significantly. The price rise will almost certainly be followed by a collapse of coal-fired power and immediate shift to reliance on unreliable, unstable, expensive, foreign-owned solar and wind – all of which is heavily subsidised by the taxpayer from an ever-diminishing pool of revenue.

The detail of the Bill shows the Greens demanding coal-fired plants pay for the Greens ‘Net Zero’ goals, including technology and infrastructure upgrades. Perhaps it is their solution to not raising tax but ultimately, wiping out Australia’s coal industry and baseload grid will cost Australia a fortune and potentially leave us sitting in the dark.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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