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Fuelling Injustice: Women’s rights and Australian coal mining in Africa

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About ActionAid Australia

ActionAid Australia is a global women’s rights organisation working to achieve social justice, gender equality and poverty eradication in more than 45 countries, with an extensive presence in the African region. ActionAid works to address a broad range of socio-economic, political and environmental issues that have a specific impact on women, and ActionAid Australia focuses on economic and climate justice for women and women’s rights in emergencies. ActionAid Australia is currently delivering a number of projects in Africa focused on women’s economic empowerment, climate change adaptation and access to justice, funded by the Australian Aid Program and public donors. This includes work with women smallholder farmers, survivors of sexual and gender based violence in conflict, and those from mining and crisis-affected communities.

ActionAid Australia is part of a global federation that works with communities in Africa that are impacted by coal mining and power generation, and in particular with women who bear the brunt of these impacts. This includes a project with women directly affected by an Australian-run coal project in South Africa, the proposed Boikarabelo mine in Limpopo. ActionAid also works with women who are facing the worst impacts of climate change and who are leading community adaptation, and disaster preparedness and response, in a number of African countries, including Kenya, Somaliland, Uganda, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and South Africa.

About this report

The purpose of this report is to identify for the first time the scale of Australian companies’ coal interests in Africa and the potential carbon liability this represents, and to examine some of the potential climate impacts and implications for women’s rights and sustainable development across the continent. It also points to an alternative vision of sustainable development that has been developed by women’s organisations in Africa, and makes recommendations to the Australian Government and policy-makers.

The report concludes with an Appendix that explains the methodology used for assessing the coal reserves and carbon liability of the coal projects identified.

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Key Findings

For Australian companies in Africa, coal is the second most prevalent commodity after gold
  • These projects are heavily concentrated in South Africa, with a small number in Botswana and Tanzania
  • The vast majority of these projects are proposed mines that would open up new reserves of coal for coalfired electricity generation
  • Australian companies’ coal projects in Africa contain 34 billion tonnes of coal, more than three times Adani’s Carmichael mine
  • This represents up to an estimated 45 billion tonnes of potential carbon emissions
  • Given the need to rapidly decarbonise the global economy to have any chance of avoiding the most dangerous levels of climate change, there is no room of any new coal mines within our very limited global carbon budget, therefore it is imperative that this coal stays in the ground.
For any media enquiries, please contact Holly Miller, Head of Communications, ActionAid Australia on email or 0432 781 294.