Seven Mile Beach protest reflects growing unease over Adani's coal plans

It’s no surprise the Kiama district takes the environment seriously. Enjoying the sublime natural beauty of its coast and hinterland, residents know the value of preserving the environment in which they live. 

As if to warn them of the perils of not doing so are the belching stacks of Port Kembla’s steelworks on the northern horizon. They’re cleaner now than in days past but they’re still a constant reminder of the threat global warming and rising sea levels pose to the entire eastern seaboard.

So it was no surprise to see hundreds of locals turn out on Seven Mile Beach on Saturday to form what’s claimed as one of the biggest human signs seen in the region – it’s simple message: “Stop Adani.”

That the gathering was held on one of the South Coast’s most pristine beaches symbolised what’s at stake if action is not taken to address climate change. Should global temperatures continue to rise at the rates predicted by climatologists, rising seas could swamp this beautiful part of our world.

However, Seven Mile Beach was probably not front of mind of the residents gathered there. Another world famous jewel in our natural crown, the Great Barrier Reef, is the focus for the national campaign to stop Indian corporation Adani from developing its huge proposed mine in Queensland. 

Lending weight to the campaign are high-profile people from India, who have expressed dismay at the fact the Australian government is not only allowing the mine to proceed but is bankrolling its establishment.

A recent Four Corners report featured comments from Jairam Ramesh, a former environment minister, who said he was appalled by the federal government’s approval of the mine, which threatened the Great Barrier Reef. The reef, he said, was part of humanity’s common heritage.

Equally disturbing were his comments about Adani’s poor environmental and governance records in India. There, it is mired in allegations of tax evasion and has had adverse environmental findings made against its operations in the state of Gujarat, which it is appealing.

Anyone who has travelled to India knows its environmental standards are generally well below those of developed countries. Cities like Delhi are often shrouded in a toxic smog which hangs around for weeks at a time. So when Indians themselves raise red flags about one of the country’s corporations, it seems only logical we sit up and take notice. There’s too much at stake not to.