Bob Brown's Adani convoy claim backfires

AAP FactCheck Investigation: Will the "Stop Adani" convoy emit less than 30 seconds worth of carbon emissions generated from the proposed Queensland coal mine?

The Statement

"I had it calculated that this whole convoy will produce greenhouse gases equivalent to less than half a minute of a year's operation of the Adani mine."

Conservationist and former Greens leader Bob Brown. April 18, 2019.

The Verdict

False - The checkable claims are all false.

The Analysis

Environmental activists have joined a convoy of cars led by Bob Brown from Hobart to Queensland to protest Adani's planned Carmichael coal mine in central Queensland. [1]

More than 70 cars, including some electric vehicles, reached Melbourne on Thursday on the two-week journey up Australia's east coast. [2]

AAP FactCheck examined the claim by convoy captain Bob Brown who calculated his car rally will produce greenhouse gases equivalent to less than 30 seconds worth of a year's emissions at the future Carmichael coal mine. [1]

According to Adani Australia the Carmichael mine will have a processing capacity of 10 million tonnes of thermal coal a year. This will produce around 240,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (Co2). [3]

AAP FactCheck contacted Mr Brown for the source and method of his calculation.

Mr Brown used a lower figure of 210,000 tonnes of Co2 emissions per day from coal extracted at the Carmichael mine. The figure of 210,000 was sourced from a 2014 report titled Climate Change - Emissions by environmental scientists Dr Chris Taylor and Professor Malte Meinshausen that was lodged in the Land Court of Queensland. [4]

The 210,000 tonnes figure was drawn from the report's calculation of 78,833,137 tonnes of annual average emissions. The true figure is 215,981 tonnes. [4]

Using Mr Brown's stated figure of 210,000 tonnes of emissions per day, coal extracted from the mine would emit 145.8 tonnes per minute as there are 1,440 minutes in a day. Mr Brown is using less than half a minute as his measure. That equates to slightly less than 73 tonnes of emissions for less than half a minute.

Bob Brown Foundation media manager Adam Burling said Mr Brown estimated a total of 455 tonnes of Co2 would be emitted by his convoy during the two-week journey from Hobart to Queensland.

Mr Burling said Mr Brown's calculation was "ballpark" as the figure of 455 tonnes was based on 500 cars driving 5000 kilometres. As most in the convoy would be travelling part of the total distance and some not the full distance, Mr Burling said the figures and calculation were "hypothetical".

He also admitted the number of cars registered for the convoy was 800 and was not fixed.

Based on Mr Brown's own figures the convoy would produce roughly the equivalent of three minutes of emissions from the proposed Adani mine, not 30 seconds worth.

Given the figures Mr Brown used to calculate the emissions from his convoy are estimates only and based on shifting numbers, and his Adani calculation is wrong, AAP FactCheck found his claims to be false.

The Verdict

False - The checkable claims are all false.

The References

1: 'Convoy emissions can't compare with Adani output, says Bob Brown', by Matthew Denholm, The Australian, April 18, 2019: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/politics/convoy-emissions-cant-compare-with-adani-output-says-bob-brown/news-story/3d31173255a3fb4e08c599f293feea9b

2: 'Adani convoy reliant on coal: miners'. Nine News/AAP. April 18, 2019: https://www.9news.com.au/national/adani-convoy-reliant-on-coal-miners/6786b58d-d36a-4d11-8402-a99d227fcf5d

3: 'Adani defends carbon emissions at Carmichael'. Australian Mining. March 15, 2019: https://www.australianmining.com.au/news/adani-defends-carbon-emissions-at-carmichael/

4. 'Joint report to the Land Court of Queensland on Climate Change - Emissions', by Chris Taylor and Malte Meinshausen. (Page 8 Table 1) December 22, 2014: http://envlaw.com.au/wp-content/uploads/carmichael14.pdf