A FORMER international oil, gas and coal industry executive involved with Hunter coal mines in the 1980s has slammed governments, the mining and investment industries and Minerals Councils for failing the community on climate change.
The mining industry was ‘‘living in a fool’s paradise’’, governments were in denial and ‘‘Minerals Council thinking had never grown beyond the idea that coal will continue ad finitum’’, former Shell executive Ian Dunlop said in an interview.
The consequences of dangerous climate change were so extreme, and evidence was now so compelling, that emergency action similar to placing Australia on a war footing was needed, he said.
‘‘This view is typically dismissed as unwarranted alarmism and extremism by the political and business incumbencies, but unfortunately the evidence is piling up, along with the economic cost of extreme weather events, to the point where continued denialism is simply economic illiteracy,’’ Mr Dunlop said.
In only his second submission against an individual coal project – Rio Tinto’s planned expansion of the Mount Thorley Warkworth mine – he said not only should mining companies not expand existing operations, they had an ‘‘ethical and moral responsibility’’ not to on-sell mines once approvals were obtained.
‘‘Selling off mine assets and getting the cash in is something the investment community has so far seen as a plus, but these mines need to be shut down, not expanded. The question is who’s going to carry the cost?’’
Mr Dunlop accused the Minerals Council of Australia and the NSW Minerals Council of ‘‘spreading misinformation’’ about coal, including the Minerals Council’s recent controversial ‘‘Coal, it’s an amazing thing’’ advertisements.
Federal and state government support for the Shenhua mine in the Liverpool Plains area, and the Galilee project in Queensland, showed ‘‘the mining industry and governments are effectively locking us into a high-carbon future’’, Mr Dunlop said.
He was astonished that climate change rated ‘‘just a mention’’ in the assessment process for the Mount Thorley Warkworth expansion proposal. He was extremely critical of mining industry ‘‘misrepresentation’’ of International Energy Agency scenarios of high future global coal use for many decades.
‘‘The scenarios are not forecasts. The agency is assuming we implement the changes people are committed to today,’’ Mr Dunlop said.
But new IEA chief executive Fatih Birol in September warned that fossil fuel companies risked wasting billions of dollars of investment by not taking global action.