THE BIG STORY
AUSTRALIA If built, the notorious Adani Carmichael mega-mine would eat up 0.5 per cent of the world’s remaining carbon budget – the amount science says we can risk burning before tipping the world over 1.5° C.
But the mine’s would-be developers, the Adani group – headed by one of India’s richest men – face determined opposition from an alliance of Pacific Islanders, local indigenous peoples, concerned citizens and striking schoolchildren. Campaigners have also linked up with anti-pollution activists in India, the destination for most of the 2.7 billion tonnes of coal that Adani would churn out over its 60-year lifespan.
In August 2018, it seemed the Adani group had overcome a major hurdle when a federal court dismissed the legal challenge of the Wangan and Jagalingou peoples, the traditional owners of the land. But the mine faces another: environmental standards set by the Queensland government – including a plan for protecting the rare black-throated finch – which the company is complaining will be hard to meet.
Meanwhile, the wider mood seems to be shifting in Australia. The recent announcement by mining giant Glencore that it will make no new investments in the coal sector puts further pressure on Adani, as does a decision by a court in New South Wales to block a proposed new coalmine at Rocky Hill on climate change grounds.
The #StopAdani campaign has made the mine an important issue for federal elections in May 2019. ‘We have to find ways to keep coal and gas in the ground,’ says Mikaele Maiava, a Pacific Climate Warrior from Tokelau. ‘There is nothing more urgent or necessary.’ stopadani.com
ARGENTINA Patagonia’s shale formations could generate billions of barrels of oil and gas – and local resistance is determined to keep it underground.
The huge Vaca Muerta (‘Dead Cow’) deposit is thought to be the world’s second-largest reserve of shale oil and gas. But even though every major transnational oil company has purchased leases to extract from the dead cow, the industry can still be stopped.
The indigenous Mapuche people have played a leading role, using legal tactics and direct action, and facing violent crackdowns from the state authorities. Some 50 local towns have passed civil ordinances to ban it, which has successfully delayed the spread of the fracking rigs.
New tactics are emerging. Towns such as Neuquén, Fernandez Oro and Allen have succeeded in passing laws that have created ‘frack-free zones’ around farms and orchards and tightened regulation. Such measures push up the industry’s costs, making it look less attractive to investors.
‘To wreck reliable long-term livelihoods such as apple and pear production in return for just a few years of gas extraction is a terrible deal,’ says Fernando Cabrera from the NGO Observatorio Petrolero Sur, which is working with local people to develop alternative visions to boom-and-bust short-termism.
Legal action is also putting the brakes on oil extraction elsewhere in Latin America. In Peru, a challenge by the Awajún and Wampis peoples has closed off thousands of square kilometres from drilling – and thrown dozens of the country’s oil concessions into doubt. nin.tl/VacaMuerta nacionwampis.com forestpeoples.org
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