The Queensland Conservation Council and Mackay Conservation Group objected to the expansion of a coal mine in central Queensland, in particular they claimed that there would be an adverse environmental impact unless conditions were imposed such that it was to, “… avoid, reduce or offset the emissions of greenhouse gases that are likely to result from the mining, transport and use of the coal from the mine.”
Emeritus Professor Ian Lowe AO was an expert witness and indicated the over the life of the mine it would contribute to the cumulative impacts of global warming to the extent that it would add the equivalent of 0.24 percent to current annual global emissions.
The President of the Tribunal, Mr Koppenol, suggested it more appropriate to compare annual global emissions with annual output of the mine and that the figure was thus 0.001098 percent and that Professor Lowe’s figure was 218 times too high.
The other expert witness for the environment groups Mr Jon Norling relied heavily on the finding of the British Government’s 2006 ‘Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change’ and also the assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The President of the Tribunal again found evidence of exaggeration noting in the judgment that Mr Norling converted Sir Nicholas Stern’s ‘if’ to ‘when’ with reference to sea level rise.
Interestingly, the President, took it upon himself to read up not only on the Stern Review but also the latest IPCC summary, and also avail himself of the recent published critique of ‘The Stern Review: A Dual Critique’ * by Professor Robert Carter et al and Proessor Sir Ian Byatt et al.
President Koppenol noted in his decision that the Carter-Byatt critique of the Stern Review concluded that it was scientifically flawed and a vehicle of speculative alarmism and not a basis for informed or responsible policies.
In defending his decision to make reference to these documents, President Koppenol noted that the Tribunal is empowered by statute to inform itself of anything in the way it considers appropriate and that having become aware of these papers and regarding them as relevant, “it would have been in appropriate for me to have just ignored them”.
The final recommendation in The Decision by President Koppenol was for the expansion of the Xstrata coal mine to go ahead without any of the conditions sought by the environmental groups.
How refreshing it is to read a document from someone in a position of authority and to see that all the evidence has been considered.
* Update: It has been suggested to me by email that this link does not work and that a better link to the critique is here