World

Australia’s election result could have global climate impact

SYDNEY: Brutal droughts, floods and wildfires were expected to make the environment a pivotal issue in Australia's election.

Now, victory for the climate change-sceptic Liberal party could have global implications.

Australia's Liberal-National coalition secured victory late on Saturday night despite polls suggesting an opposition Labor Party win.

In coal-rich Queensland, voters swung hard to the government fearing a Labor government would curb mining projects and cost them jobs.

Concerns that Labor would block the creation of the massive Indian-backed Adani coal mine helped voters abandon the party in droves.

The district of Herbert had been the most marginal seat at the last election, with only a 0.02 per cent difference between the main parties. This time the Liberals took 58 per cent of the vote.

That result - and others like it - could have ramifications far beyond Australia.

LARGEST COAL EXPORTER

In the emissions stakes, Australia is a minnow compared to the bellowing economies of China or the US. But its role as the world's largest coal exporter gives the country outsized influence in climate stakes.

Experts said the coalition government's victory makes it much more likely that the Adani project will go ahead.

Eventually, they say, billions more tonnes of coal will be available to export and burn in places like India.

"It is probable they will push for the final approvals to go through as quickly as possible," said Professor Samantha Hepburn, an energy and resources law expert at Deakin University in Australia.

The Labor-led Queensland state government - which also has a say - is likely to come under enormous pressure to approve the project despite concerns about the environment.

"Adani is the thin edge of the wedge," said Ms Hepburn.

"Approving Adani will provide a strong precedent for the development of further mines in the area." - AFP

WORLD