Wednesday 26th October 2016                 Change text size:

Bill McKibben: ‘coal needs to stay in the ground if we want to tackle climate change’

Photo: School of Natural Resources via Flickr

Prominent environmentalist Bill McKibben has described Australian coalmining as a “rogue industry”, despite many new developments gaining recent approval in the country.

The country’s government previously pledging to reduce Australia’s greenhouse output by 80% by the middle of the century, but a number of coal projects in Queensland have been given the go-ahead of late.

McKibben, whose organisation,, is running a fossil fuel divestment campaign , expressed his concerns about the damaging practices undertaken by coal infrastructure projects in the state.

If the world ever takes climate change seriously, that coal simply has to stay in the ground”, he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

There’s no physical way to burn it, or Canada’s tar sands, or Venezuela’s shale oil, and not go over the red line that almost all governments, including Australia’s, have drawn at two degrees.”

Around 711m tonnes of carbon dioxide are burned by Australian coalmines every year. With the approval of new mines, this amount is set to increase to 1,431m tonnes in 2020 and 1,738m tonnes by 2025.

“’I think that, at this point, the fossil fuel industry is a rogue industry. It wants to burn five times the carbon that the most conservative governments on Earth say is safe”, McKibben added.

McKibben has planned to visit Australia this June with to help spur on local campaigns for action against climate change.

The organisation recently received backing from Seattle mayor Mike McGinn, who formally asked two of the city’s biggest pension funds not to invest in fossil fuel companies in the future.

Further reading:

Climate change will create investment winners and losers

Sustainable investment needs to be ‘core to how we live our lives’

UK carbon emissions increased 4.5% in 2012

Claims of oil prosperity fail to note the finite nature of fossil fuels

The Guide to Sustainable Investment 2013

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