Caption: Inner West residents march through Newtown to protest the Adani coal mine. Photo credit: Stop Adani Sydney

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BY SARAH MCLENAGHAN

Inner West residents have marched through Newtown ahead of the Federal election to pressure local politicians to commit to stopping the Adani Coal Mine project.

On Sunday protestors gathered in Camperdown Memorial Rest Park before marching through King Street in a rally against climate change organised by the campaign group Stop Adani Sydney.

“We’re protesting because our MPs just won’t listen,” said rally organiser Dan Conway.

“Anthony Albanese has refused to meet us for the last two years and we’ve probably sent six formal requests and we’ve invited him to speak at this rally, we’ve invited him to speak at a rally about a year ago and just no response, absolutely no response.”

Fellow Stop Adani volunteer, Jason, also believes Mr Albanese is ignoring the real climate change issues facing Australia.

“Anthony Albanese talks quite a bit about climate change. He has held meetings with the NSW Labor Environment Action Network (LEAN) to discuss Labor’s plans for climate change. But aside from emissions targets, Albanese has never addressed the creation of new coal mines such as Adani in accelerating climate change in Australia.

“This is a problem. Adani’s coal, once burnt, will create up to 4.6 billion tonnes of carbon pollution which will negate any emissions targets put in place by Labor,” he said.

Mr Conway said that even if these targets are met, the ALP’s draft national platform fails to address the issue of Australia’s coal exports.

The dirty little secret

“The dirty little secret is that 70% of the coal that Australia produces is shipped overseas. So even if we shut all the coal-fired power stations tomorrow and transition to a complete carbon economy tomorrow, which is what the ALP talk about endlessly, it wouldn’t address the 70% climate disaster that we export to the rest of the world,” Mr Conway said.

Jonathan Moylan, a campaigner for Greenpeace Australia Pacific, an environmental organisation that endorsed the rally, emphasised the devastating impact the Adani project will have if it proceeds

“The Carmichael mine would mean draining twelve and a half gigalitres of water from the Suttor River as well as posing severe threats to the black-throated finch and the yakka snake as well as being a massive new carbon bomb that Australia can’t afford if we’re serious about tackling climate change.”

Faced with these issues, Adani are quick to point out the potential job growth that will be generated by the mine. However, Jason says Stop Adani Sydney does not believe Adani’s “propaganda” about job creation.

“They’ve already scaled down their employment figures several times. We think that with leadership in government, a plan for increased employment in regional areas – that are not at the expense of our shared environment – are possible,” he said.

National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) NSW State Secretary, Michael Thomson, also endorsed the Sunday rally and the need to create “green jobs”. He said, “Adani is a project where big capital is going to destroy our environment. We need to be climate active”.

Mr Conway stressed that the issue extends far beyond the Carmichael mine if Adani is successful.

“The Adani coal mine and campaign began about two years ago. At that point Adani was the first, the biggest and the most likely to go ahead and it still is the first. But in the meantime there are now about six other mines also slated and in various stages of approval in the Galilee coal basin.”

For this reason, Mr Conway said it is critical that the plan to build a rail line to the untapped coal deposit does not go ahead.

The key is the rail line

“The key is really the rail line. It’s like a chain of dominoes. If Adani gets the approval to build its mine, they’ll build the rail line and at that point the entire Galilee Basin becomes economically viable to mine and it will extend the life of every coal-fired power station in Southeast Asia for the next sixty years.”

“If we stop Adani we protect the Galilee because no one else will be able to get in.”

Restricting access to the Galilee Basis is critical when looking at figures which suggest that the coal mined from the site would produce enough emissions to consume 7% of the world’s remaining carbon budget.

With State and Federal elections approaching, Stop Adani Sydney says it wants to see real action on climate change across the board.

“We want policies that explicitly stop new coal mines and wind down old coal-fired power. We want a policy that explicitly lays out money and timeframes to transition to renewables and to provide jobs in the regions with high unemployment, especially in coal regions.”