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NASA Scientist calls for Australian coal halt

This was originally published (date unknown) on the web site of Rising Tide Newcastle. The letter to which the media release refers is published is dated 27 March 2008 and can be found on Energy Bulletin.

Rising Tide Newcastle is calling for an immediate response from the Federal Government after one of the world's foremost climate scientists wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd calling on him to halt plans for more coal mining and exporting, and put a ban on new coal fired power stations.

The letter's author, Dr. James Hansen, is director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Adjunct Professor at the Columbia University Earth Institute, and member of the US National Academy of Sciences. His letter states that:

“ ... there are plans for continuing mining of coal, export of coal, and construction of new coal-fired power plants around the world, including in Australia, plants that would have a lifetime of half a century or more. Your leadership in halting these plans could seed a transition that is needed to solve the global warming problem.

“Choices among alternative energy sources - renewable energies, energy efficiency, nuclear power, fossil fuels with carbon capture - these are local matters. But decision to phase out coal use unless the CO2 is captured is a global imperative, if we are to preserve the wonders of nature, our coastlines, and our social and economic well being. If we continue to build coal-fired power plants without carbon capture, we will lock in future climate disasters associated with passing climate tipping points. We must solve the coal problem now.”

Climate action group Rising Tide Newcastle have been calling for a ban on new coal projects in the Hunter Region, and said today that the Federal Government is under international scrutiny for our massive coal industry expansion. Group spokesperson Steve Phillips said: “This letter, from one of the most respected climatologists in the world, makes it clear that a ban on new coal projects is a common sense and necessary response to the global climate crisis.”

“There is increasing international pressure on Australia to get serious about climate change, as this letter shows. Our single biggest contribution to the problem is coal exports, and our national response to the problem must confront that reality.

“Kevin Rudd has so far ignored community demands for a ban on new coal projects. He surely cannot ignore the same demands from the world's leading climate scientists.”

James Hansen will be sending a similar letter to the Premier's of Australia's states. The letter can als be viewed as a pdf file here.