Greyhound cuts ties with Adani mine after backlash from climate activists

Graham Readfearn
Photograph: Omer Messinger/EPA

The bus company Greyhound Australia has ruled out any extension of work on the controversial Adani coal project after a backlash from climate change campaigners.

On Sunday the SchoolStrike4Climate group launched a campaign to boycott travel with the company until it publicly ruled out working on the mine.

Guardian Australia revealed last week that Greyhound had written to staff warning they could be caught “in the crossfire” of anti-Adani campaigners after the company took a three-month contract at the coal project, with an option to extend.

Related: Great Barrier Reef group severs ties with Greyhound over Adani contract

The Indian-owned Adani mine and railway project is the first to begin work to extract the vast coal reserves of Queensland’s Galilee basin.

Greyhound is providing transport to workers for the construction company BMD, which is building the railway to take the coal to Adani’s Abbot Point port.

In a statement, Greyhound Australia said it had “received numerous messages, emails and phone calls from people expressing their thoughts both for and against the Carmichael Rail Network and Adani Carmichael project”.

It said: “Following considered deliberation, and in the best interests of our staff, customers, and partners, Greyhound Australia has decided to not enter into a contractual agreement with BMD to service construction of the Carmichael Rail Network beyond our preliminary 31 March 2020 commitment.”

The company declined to comment further.

Within hours of Guardian Australia’s report on the contract, the conservation group Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation announced it had terminated a partnership with Greyhound. Greyhound’s chief executive, Alex de Waal, also resigned as chairman of the foundation.

Varsha Yajman, a spokesperson for SchoolStrike4Climate, said the group had launched a campaign to boycott Greyhound buses on Sunday.

“We thank Greyhound for not throwing young people under a bus by continuing to help Adani build their climate-wrecking coalmine,” she said.

After a summer of “bushfires and heatwaves”, she said, Greyhound’s decision had given her hope. “It shows that we can push companies to be part of the solution to climate change and consider the impact of their actions.

“Thanks to Greyhound listening to young people, students can now still go to school camps and on excursions by Greyhound buses.”

The climate activist group Galilee Blockade told Guardian Australia it had now cancelled a planned protest targeting Greyhound Australia at Brisbane’s Roma Street travel interchange on Wednesday.

Ben Pennings, spokesman for Galilee Blockade, said: “Greyhound took a stupid risk but quickly saw sense. Most Australians don’t want the Adani mine and every single company with a retail brand has listened to their customers and dumped Adani.

Related: Adani coalmine: Siemens CEO has ‘empathy’ for environment but refuses to quit contract

“We’re already experiencing climate chaos and corporations simply have to take heed of an angry public increasingly willing to risk legal sanction for a liveable climate.”

In January the German technology company Siemens said it would honour its Adani contract after it reviewed a reported $30m contract with the project.

The engineering firm GHD ended a 10-year association with Adani in December after that company was also targeted by campaigners.

Julien Vincent, the executive director of Market Forces, a group that tracks the relationships between corporations and fossil fuel industries, told Guardian Australia: “As Greyhound have discovered, and Siemens are in the middle of discovering, Adani’s climate-wrecking mine is a surefire way to destroy your reputation.

“Now we need the likes of Siemens to realise what an appalling and ill-informed decision they have made to work on Carmichael and also pull the pin on their relationship with Adani.”

A BMD spokesperson said in a statement: “Our contracts with clients and subcontractors are commercial in confidence and, as such, we do not disclose them publicly.”