Open letter to the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility Board re funding for Adani

Open letter to the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility Board re funding for Adani

Ms Sharon Warburton
Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility Board

Dear Ms Warburton,

Doctors for the Environment Australia, a national medical organisation that raises awareness of the close link between human health and the health of the environment, strongly urges you as a member of the NAIF Board to rule out an investment loan for Adani to build a rail line from the Galilee Basin to Abbot Point.

As doctors, we have a duty to act as advocates for our patients and to protect them from harm. We have spoken out against the tobacco industry and the use of asbestos, now doctors are actively advocating for a move away from coal as a vital public health intervention.

As our attached factsheet on the health effects of the Adani Carmichael mine shows, this project poses a grave danger to public health both in Australia and globally: coal mines are a health risk for miners (evident by the resurgence in black lung disease), workers and nearby communities; the pollution from the coal causes childhood asthma, heart and lung disease, and some cancers; and the burning of coal is a main driver of global warming.

Climate change is described by the authoritative medical journal, The Lancetas the greatest threat to public health of our time”. The health effects of climate change are already being felt in Australia – with increased heat waves, extreme weather events, bushfires and changing distribution of infectious diseases. Globally, climate change threatens the very fundamentals of health such as access to clean air and water and sufficient food sources. In fact, climate change is predicted to reverse the progress in health made under the UN millennium development goals.

The Adani Carmichael mine would be the largest coal mine in Australia and one of the largest in the world. Going ahead with it will send a terrible message to the world – ‘we in Australia really don’t care about the planet, or its inhabitants’. Additionally, it will create an infrastructure for the potential development of up to eight other coal mines in the region.

This is not consistent with global efforts to limit climate change as per the Paris Agreement. Australia’s calculated share of the global carbon budget to limit climate change requires us to keep over 90% of fossil fuels in the ground, and even existing mines need to be retired before being fully exploited.

In addition to the health impacts from the Adani Carmichael mine, we believe funding this destructive and dangerous project will run counter to NAIF’s goals to facilitate viable investments for Northern Australia.

The project has had trouble attracting interest from international commercial banks; coal is in decline across the world as countries and companies are recognising that renewables are the future, and that is where new jobs and technology innovation reside; India, where coal from the Adani Carmichael mine is destined for, plans to phase out thermal coal imports by 2021; and this project will hasten further damage to the Great Barrier Reef, resulting in the loss of many thousands of Queensland tourism jobs – much more than the number the mine will create.

Lending money to Adani to build a rail line for coal is akin to supporting a tobacco company to transport hundreds of tonnes of tobacco to market. The stark conclusions from health bodies in Australia and around the world on the potential risks to our health and to the environment from coal mining leave no room for doubt that the best place for coal is in the ground.

As the Chairman of a Commonwealth body whose focus is public benefit, we enjoin you to reject funding any aspect of the Adani Carmichael mine.

Kind regards,
Professor Kingsley Faulkner AM CitWA FRACS MDA (Hons)
Past President RACS
Chair, Doctors for the Environment Australia

Professor Stephen Leeder
Member of Doctors for the Environment Australia’s Scientific Advisory Committee
Emeritus Professor of Public Health and Community Medicine
Menzies Centre for Health Policy and School of Public Health
University of Sydney

Professor Peter Brooks
Member of the Management Committee of Doctors for the Environment Australia
Professorial Fellow at the Centre for Health Policy – School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne

Professor David Shearman AM PhD FRACP FRCPE
Hon Secretary Doctors for the Environment Australia
E/Professor of Medicine, University of Adelaide

Professor Fiona Stanley AC FAA FASSA
Member of Doctors for the Environment Australia’s Scientific Advisory Committee
Telethon Kids Institute
Distinguished Research Professor, University of Western Australia
Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow, University of Melbourne.


cc: Mr Barry Coulter, Mr Justin Mannolini, Mr Khory McCormick, Dr Sally Pitkin, Mr Bill Shannon, Ms Karla Way-McPhail and the Hon Matt Canavan MP

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