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Finance GreenWatch » 1. BANK, 5.Climate Change & Carbon » Société Générale: International mobilization against Alpha Coal Project (BankTrack, FOE)

Société Générale: International mobilization against Alpha Coal Project (BankTrack, FOE)

banktrackfoeTwo days after one of the biggest meetings of the coal     industry took place in Berlin [1], les Amis de la Terre (Friends of the     Earth France) and their partners have sent an open letter [2] to Société     Générale, calling upon the bank to abandon its plans to finance the huge     Alpha Coal mining project in Australia. Located in the southern end of the     Galilee Basin – an area as yet untapped by mining – the project would have     disastrous impacts on the local environment, the climate and the Great     Barrier Reef. The open letter, signed by 57 organizations of 17 countries,     calls on Société Générale to immediately and publicly step down from this     project, and for a civil society mobilisation to begin against the project     during November.

Société Générale is currently conducting the due diligence work for the 11     billion dollars Alpha Coal mining and export project in Queensland. The     Project will include development of mines, a railway and port expansion,     and will extract 30 million tonnes of coal annually for export to Asian     markets including India and China.

The mine, consisting of six separate open-cut pits, would have huge     impacts, as explained by Derec Davies, a spokesperson for the Coast and     Country Association of Queensland : “The mining lease covers over 60,000     hectares; 47km of waterways would be diverted and the surrounding     groundwater would be drastically lowered. The whole local economy, mainly     based on farming, as well as the critical habitats of protected species     would be severely affected.”

The project would also heavily harm the Great Barrier Reef, one of the     world’s richest ecosystems. The United Nations World Heritage Committee has     asked that the Australian government “not permit any new port development     or associated infrastructure outside of the existing and long-established     major port areas within or adjoining the property, and to ensure that     development is not permitted if it would impact individually or     cumulatively on the Outstanding Universal Value of the [World Heritage]     property.” Yet under the proposed expansion, the port at Abbot Point would     become the biggest coal port in the world.

The greatest threat to the Great Barrier Reef comes from climate change.     Over its 30-year lifespan, the mining operations and coal burning from     Alpha will result in 1.8 billion tonnnes of CO2 emissions [3]. But, as the     first of a series of planned projects in the Galilee Basin, it could also     play a key role in the opening up of the region, magnifying the carbon     impact of the Alpha project many times over. Indeed, these projects would     emit almost as much carbon annually as the whole of Germany [4], and their     exploitation is consistent with scenarios that would lead to six degrees of     global warning above pre-industrial levels [5].

In support of local farmers and the Coast and Country Association of     Queensland – which opposes the approval of the Alpha Coal Project – les     Amis de la Terre denounce the leading role played by Société Générale. With     57 organizations from 17 countries, the association calls the bank to     follow the example of the US bank Citi, which has ceased providing advisory     services on this project.

“With this letter, we want to send a strong message to Société Générale but     also to other international banks that may be considering support for such     projects: the Galilee Basin is a no-go zone! Whatever the nationality of     the bank, international civil society will be there to remind them of their     commitment in terms of social, environmental and climate responsibility”     say Lucie Pinson, private finance campaigner at les Amis de la Terre     France.

Delays can be very damaging to such costly projects and can lead to their     end. Therefore, les Amis de la Terre call on all of civil society to     mobilize from the 12th to the 15th of November. The general public can     already put pressure on Société Générale by voting in the Pinocchio     Awards, for which the Bank is nominated for its involvement with     Alpha Coal.

Notes for editors
[1] World Coal Conference 2013, Coaltrans Berlin, http://www.coaltrans.com/EventDetails/0/5573/33rd-Coaltrans-World-Coal-Conference-Berlin.html
[2] The open letter is available on this page : http://www.amisdelaterre.org/IMG/pdf/letter_to_societe_general_on_alpha_coal.pdf
[3] Estimated maximum CO2 emissions from combustion of the Alpha Coal mine.     Cooking the Climate, Wrecking the Reef, Greenpeace, September 2012.
[4]   Comparison of annual CO2 emissions from the aggregated     Galilee Basin mines to German emissions from fuel combustion in 2009 as     estimated by the IEA. id.
[5] ibid.

For more     information:
Cooking the Climate, Wrecking the Reef: the global implications of coal     exports from Australia’s Galilee Basin, Greenpeace, September 2012,  http://www.greenpeace.org/australia/en/what-we-do/climate/resources/reports/Cooking-the-climate-Wrecking-the-reef/

 

Further information and interviews
Caroline Prak, Les Amis de la Terre France : +33 6 86 41 53 43 / +33 1 48     51 18 96 – caroline.prak@amisdelaterre.org

Filed under: 1. BANK, 5.Climate Change & Carbon