Coal Bias No Good For Australia

Posted by Des Menz in Three Fossils Coal-Oil-Gas

It is said that truth is the first casualty in war. And so the "war" against Australia's previously legislated climate change policies and framework continues on its reckless, and feckless, path. The "war" that is being raged by the federal government gained critical momentum in 2010 when, as the Opposition, it seized on the inability of the Labor government to articulate the facts about the necessity to de-carbonize the Australian economy. 

Labor was unable to bring the whole community with it, particularly the business sector and the dominant media sources. Self-interest won the day … but only temporarily.

The outcome has been the emergence of the runt of a climate change policy, the Direct Action Plan. As history now tells us, the present government is putting all its bets on its Emissions Reduction Fund. No credible climate change economist gives much, if any, credit to direct action as a key policy driver to achieve deep cuts to carbon emissions. 

Why deep cuts to carbon emissions

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2013) latest assessment report (AR5) revealed that global greenhouse gas emissions will need to fall by 40% to 70% by 2050 to limit global warming to 2degC and thereby attenuate climate change risks and the widespread threats to business and society. Nations will therefore have to decouple their GDP (Gross Domestic Product) from greenhouse gas emissions.

This is all about nations creating low-carbon economies. It is the greatest problem confronting the modern-day world, but can it be overcome?

So why is the Australian government so focused on what could be called a minor part of the suite of urgently needed climate change policies?

Why is the government dismissing the facts about greenhouse gas emissions?

A letter seeking answers

It was these questions, among many, that I wrote to the Prime Minister about in June 2014. The response was notable by its dismissal of the very serious questions I was raising; it was nothing short of totally unacceptable.

So, what is it that the Prime Minister and the government protecting?

Many people have talked about the ideological agenda of the government. Others have written about it. There are plenty of articles at The Conversation that attest to this.

It is clear that the government is protecting the mining and fossil fuel industries. Never mind the $4billion in subsidies annually that Australian coal, oil, and gas companies receive, or the REAL CARBON TAX that Australian workers are paying by way of the $2.55 billion Emissions Reduction Fund that subsidises businesses to voluntarily clean up their greenhosue gas emissions.

These two costs come out of the pockets of ordinary Australians. 

Is This What The Prime Minister Is Protecting?

Australians for Coal is a website established by the Minerals Council of Australia. The website states that the coal industry provides 50,000 direct jobs and 150,000 indirect jobs, and furthermore ... 

These jobs are under attack from powerful groups determined to shut the industry down.

The “powerful groups” are not listed, so we don’t know who they are. 

By comparison, the federal government’s spurious “review” of the Renewable Energy Target is likely to result in the destruction of 21,000 direct jobs and also risks the loss of $10 billion of investment.

It’s a ridiculous scenario, particularly when the government claims to be “open for business”.

Which business? 

The problem for the coal industry is that a significant proportion of the Australian population wants clean energy … 14.76% of Australia’s energy was generated from clean energy in 2013. And it is rising each year.

Domestically, the coal industry is facing competition it has never had before, and so it appears that it is fighting back, and in any way it can. 

Australians for Coal is an example of what Australia has always done, ever since Europeans arrived here. Resource takers.


And it is no different with fossil minerals. Only some Australians are for coal, many are not. That is why the domestic energy landscape is changing.

If the Prime Minister and the government know that coal is in decline, they would not say as much. That would be far too damaging for an economy that is hamstrung by mining. 

But it makes no sense to hit another part of the energy economy - the renewable energy sector - by planning to slash the Renewable Energy Target, with the consequent threat to 21,000 jobs and $10 billion of investment.

And yet, that is what is planned by the federal government, and the reasons why are all too clear, as described in The RET review cares only about coal profits, not renewable energy.

In this article Leader With Head In The Sand, I paraphrased what Prime Minister Abbott was reported to have said … 

Coal is good for humanity. Coal is good for Australia.

Such intemperate language illustrates a bias to coal unprecedented by any national leader, past and present. It is a narrow world view, and betrays the millions of people who suffer from the ill-effects of coal, it betrays the disastrous effects that are likely to befall the planet in the future.

Who should we believe?

The Union of Concerned Scientists know about the environmetal impacts of coal.

The Health Effects Of Coal Combustion In China is a human tragedy.

670,000 deaths in China linked to air pollution from burning of coal - the grim story about coal from Tsinghua and Peking Universities. Another human tragedy.

Is time running out for coal? 

It is incomprehensible that a national leader would ignore the ugly side of coal. The Chinese study mentioned above also said that if the price of coal in 2012 was $100, then an extra $43 would need to be added for the social cost. This is the health cost related to coal pollution.

I examined this aspect in an article … Truth About Carbon Emissions

This is the side to coal that coal-producing nations such as Australia, ignore.

But there’s more. The environmental costs are unfathomable! They have been described in great detail in the latest IPCC Report No. 5.

Some very severe headwinds are confronting the Australian coal industry.

And not before time. 

The problem is … the government is in denial. It’s bias is a discredit to its proper role as a policy maker for ALL Australians, not just a select few big companies and the unfortunate people caught up in the coal mining frenzy.


I said so in a letter to the Prime Minister, but he chose to ignore it.

If you want to make a difference, write to the PM, write to the Environment Minister, write to your local member. Do it through Letters to Leaders.

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