Courting a reluctant India to buy his country’s coal, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull promised to defy Aboriginal rights, other citizens’ opposition, and a skeptical financial sector, all while holding out the lure of a potential A$1-billion government loan—all to see ground broken on Australia’s largest-ever coal mine.
Turnbull assured Indian billionaire Gautam Adani “that native title issues will not stop” the A$16-billion Carmichael mine project he has proposed for the state of Queensland, the Guardian writes, in one of several reports on the state visit. The Australian prime minister “is understood to have assured Adani that a recent native title case in the federal court, which has thrown an obstacle in the way of the project, would be overcome when Parliament resumes in May.” Turnbull’s Coalition government, it adds, “has already drafted legislation to bypass the native title decision.”
Turnbull made his pitch, the Guardian notes, “despite a glut in the local market and clear signals from Delhi that it aims to eliminate imports of the fossil fuel as soon as possible.” Indeed, earlier this year, the Modi government signalled that it would halt coal imports for state-owned power plants in the next few years. Adani could still import coal from the proposed Australian mine for the private power plants he owns.
But Turnbull’s boundless enthusiasm for coal doesn’t seem to be shared by citizens at home—including many of his own Coalition supporters—who by and large want to see their government to move the country faster toward renewable energy sources. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that a “left-leaning think-tank, the Australia Institute, surveyed 1,420 voters on whether the country was moving too slowly or too quickly in embracing renewable sources [like] wind and solar. Two-thirds of voters [surveyed]—and 55% of those who identified as Coalition voters—believed the shift was too slow. Only 9%—and 17% of Coalition supporters—said it was happening too fast.”
Three of Australia’s four biggest banks are also reviewing their positions on fossil fuels such as coal. Citing disclosures to a parliamentary standing committee, the Guardian reports that “Commonwealth Bank is conducting a ‘detailed climate policy review.’ NAB has a working group reviewing the risks from global temperatures rising two degrees. [And] ANZ is conducting portfolio analysis to identify changes in the financial position of business customers in sectors ‘most exposed’ to climate change.”