The Economist invites company building massive new coal mine to present on climate risk

16 November 2020

The Economist Magazine’s Climate Risk Asia Week starting on 30 November includes a number of online events discussing the various aspects of climate risk. The one that particularly caught our attention is the session on Financing Infrastructure, which features none other than the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the Adani Group.

Jugeshinder (Robbie) Singh is part of a panel which will discuss financing infrastructure in the climate change era, including how to encourage resilience and pricing-in physical climate risk.

Mr Singh is the CFO of the Adani Group, the conglomerate which has a number of subsidiaries constructing what could become Australia’s biggest coal mine in an as yet unmined coal basin. If built, this disastrous thermal coal mine and rail line project would open the way for several more massive new thermal coal mines – setting off a carbon bomb of global significance in the midst of the climate crisis. For close to a decade the Carmichael coal project has been resisted fiercely by the Traditional Owners of the land Adani is destroying and other community activists all over the world. Due to this it has already been delayed by around seven years and has become a reputational and financial disaster for the Adani Group. 

No less than 89 of the world’s biggest banks, insurers and engineering contractors have ruled out ever working on the Carmichael project.

The financing infrastructure topic Mr Singh is speaking about comes with another layer of irony, as Adani has utterly failed to successfully finance its mine, rail and port infrastructure in Australia, due to major banks and investors refusing to be linked to them. Adani is “self-financing” the Carmichael mine and rail project, and its deeply indebted Abbot Point coal port was unable to refinance its debts in 2020.

A clue to why The Economist would invite a major polluter and wannabe coal miner with zero credibility on climate to speak at its climate risk event may be found in its list of sponsors, which include Adani as a “gold sponsor”. 

It seems Adani is trying hard to greenwash its dirty image. It recently rebranded several of its Australian coal-related companies in order to remove “Adani” from their names. Sponsorship of a climate risk conference is another way to convince people to look away from its climate-wrecking activities.

However, none of this attempted greenwashing will work. If Adani wants to build credibility on climate change, then its first step must be to walk away from the destructive Carmichael coal project.