Media release: Whitehaven Coal calls 185 countries’ bluff

15 August 2019

Whitehaven Coal, Australia’s biggest pure-play coal miner, has once again trumpeted coal demand projections based on a scenario that would see the utter failure of the Paris Agreement.

“Whitehaven Coal’s plans to massively increase coal production seem to be based on the presumption that the world will fail to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement,” said Market Forces Legal Analyst Will van de Pol. 

“With another $100m due to be spent on expansion projects in FY2020, Whitehaven continues to bet shareholder capital against the collective commitment of 185 countries that have ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change.”

Released today, Whitehaven’s FY2019 Results Presentation outlines the company’s plans to steadily increase coal production by around 75% by FY2027. Under the heading ‘Outlook for coal,’ the presentation uses the International Energy Agency’s New Policies Scenario (NPS) to project coal demand growth out to 2040.

However, the NPS would lead to average global warming of 2.7 to 3.3°C – far exceeding the absolute limit imposed by the Paris Agreement (well below 2°C), let alone the Agreement’s much safer 1.5°C target.

“Whitehaven Coal’s business model is predicated on climate catastrophe,” said van de Pol.

“Institutional investors with any interest in avoiding runaway climate change or managing climate risk must immediately divest from Whitehaven Coal.”

“Any company that has declared it wants no part in the low-carbon transition no longer deserves the support of big investors like our super funds.”

The Paris Agreement was signed by the 197 Parties to the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 2015, and has since been ratified by 185 of those Parties. It commits signatory countries to the goals of “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels”.