With soaring energy prices and the threat of summer blackouts, coal mining monstrosity, Adani, offers nothing but fakery, falsehoods and false economy to Australians. Adani has tried to portray their proposed Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin in Queensland as “socially responsible”; offering “up to 16,000 jobs” for long-suffering regional Queensland and bringing affordable power to poor Indians by providing coal to burn.
Adani fails to mention that real estimates are as low as 1400 jobs Australia-wide and that their plan even includes using automated trucks to avoid employing drivers. They also fail to mention the 115,000 Indians who die each year from air pollution or their 3.4 million neighbours in low-lying Bangladesh threatened by displacement due to climate change.
Adani has a long record of half-truths. They are under investigation in India for syphoning $298 million into offshore accounts, inflating invoices to avoid tax and increasing prices for consumers. Their reputation is synonymous with bribery, environmental devastation, corruption and fraud.
A recent Four Corners report revealed that a $22 billion payment in taxes and royalties promised by Adani could be dodged using “an opaque web of companies and trusts”, involving off-shore tax haven accounts. Based on their track record they are almost guaranteed to try this.
While Adani attempt to present the $16.5 billion Carmichael mine as a gift to the Australian people, they also skulk the corridors of power, seeking a $1 billion “loan” from taxpayers. Apparently, they are unable to withdraw sufficient funds from their Cayman Island bank accounts.
They even have the support of both major parties. In fact, two Adani lobbyists were recently exposed as former high-ranking Labor and Liberal Party members.
The proposed mine will cover 280 square kilometres and will have a disastrous environmental impact, leaving a scarred landscape and 17 waste dumps draining into adjoining groundwater. It will produce 128 million tons of carbon dioxide each year. A toll which the environment can ill afford to bear.
People are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact which continued investment in fossil fuels will have in maintaining and accelerating climate change. Back-to-back coral bleaching events in 2016 and 2017 affected two-thirds of the Great Barrier Reef. Unlike the proposed Carmichael mine, the Reef underpins up to 70,000 jobs, which are only sustainable so long as the Reef is.
The Carmichael mine not only threatens the Reef by contributing to climate change but also through ongoing pollution caused by mining. At present Adani are contesting fines of around $12,000 for the unauthorised dumping of polluted water into the ocean at Abbot Point, less than 50km from the Reef.
It is clear that Adani has no interest in creating jobs, enriching the lives of poor Indians or protecting the environment. Their sole interest is profit, regardless of the cost. This is the nature of capitalism. However, for the people of regional north Queensland, who suffer some of the worst unemployment in the country, this will come as little consolation.
The desperation felt by communities, which Adani and others exploit, is a result of capitalism’s boom-bust nature. These communities cannot be ignored. Sustainable jobs can be created in the region, without destroying the environment, through proper investment in the development and manufacture of renewable technology. This industry, unlike coal, has a future.
As the effects of climate change are felt more acutely renewable energy will become increasingly necessary. Repurposing facilities like the recently closed car factories could create tens of thousands of jobs. Instead of exporting toxic coal we could export affordable, efficient and clean renewable energy systems.
Malcolm Turnbull recently labelled those who argue that fossil fuels have no future as “delusional”. The real delusion is to believe that we can continue mining and burning coal and other fossil fuels without paying for the consequences. An alternative to unemployment, rising costs of living, a dead Reef and a warming planet must be built.
This is far beyond the capability of capitalism and it is clear that the political establishment has no interest. Such an alternative must be built by working class and young people, socialists and the trade unions. Only a socialist world can protect and sustain both the environment and meet human need and decency.
By Eóin Dawson