By Glen Klatovsky, 350 Australia Campaigns Manager

Over the last week, we have witnessed some historic cases of moral failure inspired by the Australian coal sector. 

First was the performance of our Prime Minister at the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu. Scott Morrison has pontificated about how Australia is committed to increasing the fraternal bonds with our Pacific family. Instead, he showed up at this forum as a bully, watering down the communique agreed upon by small island states that called for emissions reductions and a transition away from coal [1]. Morrison attempted to divert attention to plastic pollution and other environmental concerns, while making a show of reallocating existing aid funds to support disaster resilience in the region.

Morrison’s lasting legacy from this pivotal meeting is his commitment to the coal industry at the expense of all else. This is a commitment to runaway climate change and the devastation of the land, livelihoods and culture of our Pacific neighbours.

The control that the coal industry has on Canberra was underscored when the ALP indicated they would have stood by the coal industry in the same way if they were in power [1].

The Minerals Council of Australia continues to pull the strings in federal Parliament.

Meanwhile, the vicious malevolence of the coal industry was further emphasised by the bankruptcy of Wangan & Jagalingou man, Adrian Burragubba last Thursday [2]. Adani, the company intent on establishing the Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin, on Wangan & Jagalingou country, deliberately pushed to bankrupt Mr Burragubba to deter further legal action by the Traditional Owners.

This shameful act will be remembered.

To situate these battles in the global fight we are in, a report released by The Australia Institute yesterday gives vital context. It found that Australia is the third biggest exporter of fossil fuels and the fifth biggest miner [3]. Ultimately this shows that Australia is a “carbon bomb” country and our behaviour has a direct and substantial impact on the scale and impacts of climate change that we face and our neighbours face.

We are not a good neighbour. Nor are we treating our Pacific Island neighbours like family. And we allow our coal industry to attack all with impunity, including heroic leaders like Adrian Burragubba who has fought with his people to protect their country.

In times like this, our community needs to come together to unequivocally oppose the corrupting influence of the coal industry. On Friday September 20, young people will lead what is shaping up to be the biggest global climate mobilization we have ever seen, and they’re asking adults to join in the strike. I hope you will join me there:


[1] ABC News: Australia accused of putting coal before Pacific ‘family’ as region calls for climate change action

[2] Wangan & Jagalingou Family Council: Bankrupting of First Nations leader: Adani sets brutal new standard of corporate behaviour

[3] The Guardian: Australia is third largest exporter of fossil fuels behind Russia and Saudi Arabia