Coal – if we don’t, others will….?

solar panels in a field

So says Anthony Albanese in defence of Australia’s coal exports.  

This is not dissimilar to the ‘we only emit 1.3%’ argument. Governments like ours and others which are reluctant to take serious abatement action, kid themselves that it doesn’t matter. Everyone else does it so why not us?  

This thinking is the reason we now have over 414.7 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere (May 2019), up from ~280ppm in the 19thC. CO2 levels are now higher than any time in the 300,000 years of human history and still rising rapidly.

The Prime Minister and Opposition Leader’s support for coal exports shows they are only interested in the short term in which government coffers and their own election funds are filled with fossil fuel dollars, eking out the last of the accessible carbon that took millions of years to sequester.

73% of Australia’s power still comes from burning coal and in 2017/8 we shipped out ~450 million tonnes of all coal.

Time is running out for the world to turn climate change around. We are not opposed to mining but there is no time left for digging new coal mines or pinning our hopes on a coal fired economy. The cost of renewable energy is already lower than that of new coal generation. See here.

Since January 2019 investment in renewable energy has dropped dramatically because the large scale Renewable Energy Target was met in September 2019 and the Federal Government refuses to set a new one for 2030.  The result is that renewable energy certificates will become devalued and production of new projects will decline. See here.

Jobs in the renewable energy construction sector dropped in Queensland alone from almost 3,000 in October 2018 to less than 1,000 in December 2019. See here.

The report by the Climate Council in 2016 shows that a 50% renewable energy target for 2030 would lead to 28,000 new jobs, more than compensating for the loss of jobs in coal fired power generation.

Australia’s coal-fired plants are among the oldest and least efficient in the world but it makes no sense to replace them with new ones.

 If we don’t (go renewable), others certainly will.

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