The Australia Institute made a submission on the revised Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Whitehaven Coal’s Winchester South proposal. Our submission focused on the economic assessment within the EIS, conducted by Deloitte Access Economics.
Deloitte’s revised assessment fails to address the issues raised in our submission to the original EIS, issues that were also raised by Queensland Treasury. In particular there is no analysis on the future of the coal market and how this greenfield coal mine targeting relatively low grade coal is likely to fare in a carbon-constrained future.
Deloitte’s central carbon cost estimate is AUD$79/t, based on the USA Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s social cost of carbon as of 2020. This interim estimate by the EPA was widely expected to be increased in 2022, a point ignored by Deloitte. The USA EPA have since issued a draft update that is significantly higher, AUD$270/t. At this social cost of carbon the cost of the Winchester Project’s estimated scope 1 and 2 emissions alone outweigh any likely benefit to the Queensland community.