The Great Barrier Reef is sick. Almost half of its coral is already dead and a massive new coal mine, which was given final approval this week, will only cause further damage. This is not just an issue for Australia, it affects us all
These are dark days for Australias Great Barrier Reef. On 29 July, the last major regulatory hurdle facing the development of Australias largest coal mine was removed by Greg Hunt, minister for the environment. The Carmichael coal mine, owned by Indias Adani Group, will cover 200 sq km and produce 60m tonnes of coal a year enough to supply electricity for 100 million people. Located in Queenslands Galilee Basin, 400km inland from the reef, it will require a major rail line, which is yet to receive final approval, to transport the coal, which must then be loaded on to ships at the ports of Hay Point and Abbot Point, near Gladstone on the Queensland coast, adjacent to the southern section of the reef. Both ports require dredging and expansion to manage the increased volume of shipping. Once aboard, the coal must be shipped safely through the coral labyrinth that is the Great Barrier Reef, and on to India, where it will be burned in great coal-fired power plants.
The proposed development will affect the reef at just about every stage. Indeed, so vast is the projects reach that it is best thought of not as an Australian, or even an Australian-Indian project, but one of global impact and significance.