Australian Federal Environment minister Greg Hunt speaks with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (bottom right) during Question Time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Tuesday, May 3, 2016.
Australian Federal Environment minister Greg Hunt speaks with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (bottom right) during Question Time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Tuesday, May 3, 2016. AAP Image - Sam Mooy

Lawyers defend minister’s approval of mine

LAWYERS defending Environment Minister Greg Hunt have argued more carbon emissions were not a direct consequence of his approval of the Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin.

And the minister did consider the impacts on the Great Barrier Reef when making his decision to approve the mine, the court was told.

The Australian Conservation Foundation is fighting Mr Hunt in the Federal Court in Brisbane over the approval of Adani's Carmichael mine.

The ACF alleges Mr Hunt made an unlawful decision when approving the mine and did not properly consider the impacts on climate change, which went against the Australian Government's obligations to protect World Heritage-listed sites, including the Great Barrier Reef.

Barrister Richard Lancaster, representing Mr Hunt, told the hearing on Wednesday that the minister said it was speculative to conclude that burning coal from the Carmichael Mine would have any impact on sea temperature rises and increasing ocean acidification.

Mr Lancaster argued the ACF allegations did not have regard to the distinct difference between the carbon emissions and the flow-on effect of ocean temperature and ocean acidification.

"The potential impact that has been identified is the harm to the reef," he said.

"The harm to the reef is not without an intermediate step caused by the emission overseas, wherever the Adani coal will be burnt."

Mr Lancaster said the increase in ocean temperature at the Great Barrier Reef would only be exacerbated by the Carmichael Mine's approval if there was proof that emissions overseas would increase, or would change the baseline of global carbon emissions.

On Tuesday, when the court hearing began, the ACF barrister Saul Holt said carbon emissions from the Carmichael mine would account for more than half a percent of the world's budgeted emissions.

He also said emissions from the burning of the mine's coal would be equivalent to about three times the amount of Australia's annual emissions reduction target.

Wednesday was the last day of the hearing.

The court has reserved its decision.

- ARM NEWSDESK


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