community engagement, environment

Coal is bad for business and not listening to communities is as well

Even before the dust has settled on IPCC reports on the impact of climate change on society, the Minerals Council of Australia thought it was timely to inject the industry’s position on why Australians need to support the coal industry. Through Australians for Coal, MCA thought it would be great to give “the majority of Australians who support the coal industry a chance to have a say“. I’m sure the pin dropped over the last 24 hours that Australians are not for coal if you were to follow the conversations on the hashtag #AustraliansforCoal.

Maybe there was a lack of mobile coverage in the mines so the miners couldn’t tweet. Or they don’t have Twitter installed on their phones. I’m quite positive MCA’s inbox or mail box isn’t brimming with letters from the public supporting the further growth and development of the mining industry. I would love for MCA to prove me wrong. This is possibly the worst social media and PR lobbying campaign I have seen in a while as a PR practitioner. While in many cases, I would generously ladle my counsel on how to make things right, this is one campaign I would be extremely critical of because it goes completely against my personal values.

The coal industry and government is and will continue to face pressure from communities that are being affected by the raft of mining projects that have impacted their livelihoods and robbed them of their basic human rights. I am at odds over the increasing likelihood that the Renewable Energy Target would be reduced or removed and the expansion of coal mining that contributes towards a greater carbon footprint when we have already have affordable and reliable clean energy technologies that would allow the world to reduce its reliance on coal.

Bob Debus’ opinion piece in The Saturday Paper sums up the state of the environment and politics well. Communities are increasingly weary on being consulted and not being listened to. When approvals are given for projects on an economic rationale without considering the consequences it has on future generations. This is where Debus’ hinted we would need to see a return of environmental activism of the past if we had to make a point  – and it already is with what we are seeing with the Leard State Forest or Lock the Gate Alliance where communities are having to resort to physical action.

I would love a national debate with communities on whether we should continue to hang out hat on supporting a [dirty] extraction industry that just doesn’t stack up with our obligations to reduce emissions.

We are tearing apart nature and livelihoods that we will never be able to restore. If physical activism is the only way to fight back and be used as a tactic to delay developments, no one wins at the end.

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