We are very concerned that your bank has been a major lender to Whitehaven Coal, whose business plans are consistent with the failure of the Paris Agreement. I am also concerned that your institution may soon be asked to provide further finance to Whitehaven, as it pursues several new coal projects. I want you to confirm that your bank will not fund any of these coal projects and confirm you will not provide any more financial support to Whitehaven Coal, or other companies expanding the coal industry and relying on the failure of the Paris Agreement.
Any expansion of the coal industry is incompatible with the climate goals of the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels. It is also incompatible with the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Net Zero by 2050 modelling, which sees “no new coal mines or mine extensions”. Yet Whitehaven Coal is pursuing massive new coal mining projects–like the Vickery and Winchester South mines–when the world desperately needs to transition to clean, renewable energy sources.
Whitehaven has repeatedly justified its expansion plans by referring to coal demand projections that are consistent with almost 3°C of warming. Even 2ºC of warming would expose 37% of the world’s population to extreme heat, destroy 99% of the world’s coral reefs (including the Great Barrier Reef) and result in massive biodiversity loss. At 3ºC of warming, global GDP losses could be more than 25% by 2100. Put simply, Whitehaven’s business model depends on catastrophic ecological, social and economic collapse.
Whitehaven’s Vickery coal mine–a major new coal expansion–could soon obtain its federal regulatory approval. The company has stated its intention to raise AU$600 million to finance this development. The Vickery mine would be a climate disaster, unleashing almost 370 million tonnes of CO2-e between now and 2047, when emissions from mining and burning the coal are considered. Meanwhile, Whitehaven’s proposed AU$1 billion Winchester South mine would unleash almost 550 million tonnes of CO2-e over its 30 year lifespan. These new mines are estimated to produce at least 40% thermal coal. They are completely inconsistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement and the goal of net zero emissions by 2050.
Not only is Whitehaven wrecking our climate, it also has a long history of destroying the local environment and communities that it operates in. Whitehaven has repeatedly broken environmental conditions put in place to govern its operations, including by contaminating nearby streams and excessive air pollution. In December 2020, Whitehaven pleaded guilty to 19 charges brought against it by the New South Wales resources regulator for unauthorised vegetation clearing, unauthorised drilling of bores and failing to rehabilitate drill sites.
For years, local farmers have raised concerns that Whitehaven’s coal mines have been unlawfully taking water without a licence, including during severe drought. In July 2021, Whitehaven pleaded guilty to taking one billion litres of water at its Maules Creek coal mines. Even where Whitehaven has lawfully obtained its water, it has sometimes done so at the expense of local farmers by outbidding them on the water trading market.
I want you to confirm to me personally, and announce publicly, that you will not finance any of Whitehaven’s proposed climate-wrecking coal mines including Vickery and Winchester South. I also want you to confirm that you will not provide any more financial support to Whitehaven Coal, or other companies pursuing plans consistent with the failure of the Paris Agreement.
Further information about Whitehaven Coal can be found on the Market Forces website: http://www.marketforces.org.au/whitehaven-coal
In 2017, the heat waves, extreme wild fires, and flooding around the world confirmed beyond doubt that climate disruption is now a full-blown emergency. We have entered Churchill’s “period of consequences”, yet governments have simply watched the disasters magnify, while rushing ahead with new pipelines and annual trillions in fossil fuel subsidies. Governments simply cannot say they did not know. The events we are seeing today have been consistently forecast ever since the First Assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was signed by all governments back in 1990, and which has been described as the best evaluation project ever designed. Unprecedented Crime first lays out the culpability of corporations, governmental, political and religious bodies, and especially the media through their failure to report or act on the climate emergency. No emergency response has even been contemplated by wealthy high-emitting national governments. Extreme weather reporting never even hints at the need to address climate change — even though it is producing wars and migrations among the world’s poorest, those who have contributed the least to global warming. Yet, independently of governments, scores of proven zero-carbon game changers have been coming online all over the world. These exciting technologies, described in the book, are now able to power both household electricity and energy-dense heavy industry. We already have the technical solutions to the CO2 problem. With these solutions we can act in time to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to near-zero within 20 years. These willful crimes against life itself by negligent governments, the oblivious media and an insouciant civil society are crimes that everyday citizens can readily grasp — and then take to the streets and to the courts to protest on behalf of their children and grand-children. This thoroughly researched and highly-documented book will show them how. Co-author Dr. Peter Carter is an expert reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).