The report, “Undermining Women’s Rights: Australia’s global fossil fuel footprint”, has found that there are currently 58 ASX listed companies involved in 150 fossil fuel projects in low income countries. This number includes 35 operational projects and 115 in the planning and development phase, indicating the risk of a fourfold increase in the coming years.
This report finds that ASX listed companies’ 35 operational fossil fuel projects in low income countries alone have potential carbon emissions equivalent to almost five years’ worth of Australia’s current annual greenhouse gas emissions, or 17 years of operation of Adani’s proposed Carmichael mine.
According to ActionAid Australia, this coal, oil and gas extraction by Australian-owned mining companies is significantly impacting women and their communities, who experience a range of human rights violations as a direct result of fossil fuel mining and related carbon emissions.
ActionAid Australia’s Head of Policy and Campaigns, Lucy Manne, said:
“Fossil fuel extraction is a feminist issue. In communities affected by fossil fuel projects in low income countries, women experience an increase in gender-based violence, HIV rates, chronic health problems, food and insecurity, and unpaid labour. And these projects also contribute to the catastrophic impacts of climate change, which is leading to more ferocious and frequent disasters year on year, which we know disproportionately affect women living in poverty and exclusion.
“By failing to sufficiently regulate Australian coal, oil and gas companies operating in low income countries, the Australian Government is shirking its commitments under international human rights treaties and the Paris Climate Agreement.”
The report also finds that more than half of the projects are concentrated in three countries – Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and South Africa. According to Yvonne Sampear of Mpumalanga province in South Africa, where multiple ASX listed companies are currently engaged in coal projects and 60% of the land is being mined or under exploration:
“Mining companies have a huge impact on our lives as women who are living in mining affected communities. The mining companies are exploiting us. They are also making us sick by polluting our water. Our air is also polluted, water is contaminated, the soil is also contaminated. It’s a women’s issue because we make the fire to sustain our family and livelihood.”
The report also highlights that two of the three countries with the highest number of projects, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, are also the largest recipients of Australian Government Overseas Development Assistance under the aid program.
Ms Manne said that it was hard to fathom how the Australian Government could fund projects aiming to support women’s empowerment and gender equality while, at the same time, allowing Australian mining companies to systematically undermine women’s rights.
“If the Australian Government is committed to supporting gender equality and upholding women’s rights, then it must take swift action to increase accountability and transparency of Australian fossil fuel companies operating overseas, and ensure access to justice for women and communities if rights violations occur,” she said.
ActionAid Australia is calling for the Australian Government to introduce transparency and accountability policies that would bring our regulation of fossil fuel companies operating overseas into line with global best practice. This includes ending taxpayer subsidies for fossil fuel projects in low income countries, and introducing an independent human rights watchdog that would ensure access to justice for women and their communities if ASX companies violate their rights through their overseas operations.
Download ActionAid Australia’s report – Undermining Women’s Rights: Australia’s global fossil fuel footprint here.
View ActionAid Australia’s interactive map of Australian fossil fuel projects in low income countries here.
For Media Enquiries:
Media and Communications Manager: Carmen Hawker (02) 9565 9138 or [email protected]
Head of Policy & Campaigns, Lucy Manne (0) 417 387 516 or [email protected]