The current and future impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on the Great Barrier Reef

Report prepared for an objections hearing in the Land Court of Queensland regarding the proposed Wandoan Coal Mine

INTRODUCTION

1. I have been asked by the Friends of the Earth – Brisbane Co-Op Ltd (FoEB) to provide an expert opinion of the likely ecological impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.
2. This report has been prepared in response to that request for use in an objection hearing in the Land Court concerning a large open-cut coal mine. The mine is the Wandoan Coal Mine, an open-cut coal mine proposed to operate for 30 years west of the township of Wandoan, approximately 350 km northwest of Brisbane in the Surat Basin, Queensland (the mine).

3. The thermal coal deposits for the mine are estimated to be in excess of 1.2 billion tonnes, and are located within three Mining Lease Applications (MLAs 50229, 50230 and 50231), which comprise approximately 32,000 hectares. The coal from the mine is proposed to be crushed, processed and blended on site before being transported by rail to port for export or, possibly, for domestic use. The thermal coal produced by the mine is intended to be sold to other companies to be burnt in coal-fired power stations to generate electricity.
4. The Wandoan Coal Project environmental impact statement and an accompanying technical report on greenhouse gas emissions calculated that the emissions from the mining and use of the coal from the mine would be over 41 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents annually and 1.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents over the life of the mine (Xstrata Coal 2008).
5. For the purposes of preparing this report I have been provided with a copy of the objection lodged by FoEB to the coal mine proposed by the applicant the subject of the appeal. I am instructed that the environmental impact statement prepared for the mine does not contain any analysis of the impacts of climate change or ocean acidification on the Great Barrier Reef.
6. To balance brevity and comprehensiveness I have prepared this report as a summary of critical information and attached for further reference (if required) copies of Hoegh-Guldberg (1999), Hoegh-Guldberg et al. (2007), Veron et al. (2009) and Hoegh-Guldberg and Bruno (2010).

Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Environmental Law Publishing. Report.


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