One of the world’s biggest fossil fuels exporters rejected a proposal to build a massive renewable energy hub over concern about its environmental impact.
The Asian Renewable Energy Hub, which planned 26-gigawatts of wind and solar generation to produce hydrogen and ammonia, would have disrupted tidal movements and impacted the habitats and lifecycle of native species, according to a statement from Australia Environment Minister Sussan Ley’s office.
While scrutiny of mining and energy projects has intensified after the destruction of indigenous sites in Western Australia by Rio Tinto Group, the rejection of the green hub sparked criticism that leaders in Canberra favor fossil fuel projects.
“The same government approved the Carmichael coal mine” despite opposition from activists who feared local ecosystem destruction, said BloombergNEF Australia Analyst Will Edmonds, referring to a controversial new mine approved in 2019. The central government is also going ahead with nominations for future offshore petroleum exploration sites, he added.
Australia has defended its fossil fuel industries despite growing concern over the role coal and natural gas play in climate change. Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who once brandished a lump of coal in parliament in support of the fuel, has declined to set a hard target date for the nation to reach net-zero emissions, drawing criticism from investors and allies.