Coalition’s transition plan: Build a new mega coal mine

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Coalition gives priority to new coal mine as part of “economic transition”, explaining why new report ranks Coalition just 11/100 on environment and energy issues.

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Coal prices are at rock bottom, and coal companies have been hurt badly. (Photo by Marcel Oosterwijk, modified, CC BY-SA 2.0)
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The Coalition government has restated its commitment to ensure major new coal projects like the Adani-owned Carmichael mega mine in north Queensland go ahead, to meet what it describes as soaring global demand for the fossil fuel that is inextricably linked to dangerous global warming.

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The Coalition’s Steve Ciobo, second from right, says global demand for coal is “going through the roof”

The comments were made by the federal minister for trade and investment, Steve Ciobo, on ABC TV’s Q&A, which went into election mode on Monday night with a panel made up of representatives from the two major parties, the Greens and independents.

In response to a question about flagging industry and job loss in Queensland, Ciobo told the audience that Malcolm Turnbull’s Coalition was focused on both expanding coal mining and boosting tourism as part of its plan to “transition” the state’s economy.

“What we’re focusing on is this exact issue about a transitioning economy,” Ciobo said. “The kinds of industries we’re talking about here are, one, we want to make sure that projects like, for example, Carmichael, go ahead.

“But secondly we also want to make sure that there’s opportunities, for example, in the tourism industry.”

When questioned about whether the government could actually do both of these things without further compromising one of Australia’s greatest natural assets, the Great Barrier Reef, Ciobo had this response:

“Global demand for coal is still going through the roof. …When you sit there and say you’re gonna (stop coal mining in Australia to) save the Reef, you want it to be done elsewhere in the world. That’s not gonna save the reef mate.”

Putting aside the reams of research that come to exactly the opposite conclusion – that the global coal market is in structural decline and that mines like Carmichael risk becoming a huge stranded asset – Ciobo’s comments make it easy to see why the Australian Conservation Foundation scored the Coalition so poorly for its environmental policies in its latest report.

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The scorecard, released on Tuesday, rates the LNP, Labor and the Greens on their policies for clean energy, cutting pollution and protecting nature against the tests set out in ACF’s National Agenda. The scores were: Coalition, 11/100; Labor 53/100; the Greens 77/100.

ACF chief Kelly O’Shanassy described the Coalition’s 11/100 on the environment as “woefully inadequate” and said if the party was not prepared to lead on climate and nature, it was not fit to lead the country.

“It’s not as if conservatives can’t be good conservationists,” O’Shanassy said in a statement released with the report.

“Liberal cabinet minister Garfield Barwick was ACF’s first president; Robert Menzies signed the first Antarctic Treaty; Malcolm Fraser made Kakadu a national park; John Howard established the National Greenhouse Inventory and the National Water Initiative.”

The report scored the Coalition particularly poorly in terms of cutting pollution, giving it a total mark of -3 for its efforts to transition Australia’s economy away from coal mining and power.

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O’Shanassy said that Labor – which also scored poorly (zero out of 5) for its policy to ensure no new coal mines or coal mine extensions were approved, and for its efforts to stop fossil fuel subsidies (another zero) – while ahead of the Coalition, still had room for improvement.

Labor has also backed the development of new coal mines in Australia, but the party’s representative on the Q&A panel on Monday night, the federal member for Brisbane Terri Butler, said she did not “personally” support the Adani venture.

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“This year’s mass bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef is a stark reminder that climate change is hitting Australia hard, and we must get out of the coal business quickly,” O’Shanassy said.

“That means phasing out Australia’s coal fired power stations, turbo-boosting clean energy, helping affected communities with the transition and definitely not approving any new coal mines.

“With a whole month still to go before polling day, there is time for all parties to improve their scores.”


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18 Comments
  1. neroden 3 years ago

    The COALition seems to be wholly bought-and-paid-for by coal companies. Still.

  2. lin 3 years ago

    The worldview of those who control the LNP is incompatible with climate change, and they would rather sacrifice our future than reconsider the philosophical basis of their political beliefs. Facts, logic, reason and evidence will not win against their beliefs. The only option is to remove them from positions of power. That is no easy task, given the old, white, rich man’s club controls most of the world’s wealth and politics. However, in our neck of the woods, voting the LNP last is a good first step.

  3. Chris Fraser 3 years ago

    Still amazed by their dissonance. The only explanation I can put to it comes from a typical (small ‘L’) liberal mindset – which is – the Carmicael resource is more exploitative opportunity than a danger to increasing carbon levels. By denying myself exploitation, I simply pass that opportunity to somebody else. Again, this comes with the small “L” assumption that all other exploiters have the same attitude to pollution as me, and while ever I think you’re earning more than I am, none of us can ever have a single altruistic thought in our heads.As for where the information about increasing coal demand comes from, I would like to read the source !

    • MaxG 3 years ago

      Why do you even ask? They are i the pockets of the FF industry… they make this stuff up; they will say anything that furthers their course. This is neoliberalism at its best: which elevates self-interest over social needs.

      • Chris Fraser 3 years ago

        Their other amazing thought process is externalities. The impact on an environment they can’t own.

  4. Brunel 3 years ago

    Ah yes. Is that why the coal price has crashed?

  5. Jo 3 years ago

    The Coalition provides with a drug dealer’s argumentation: ‘I know this stuff may be bad, but if I won’t sell, somebody else will. And my drugs are cleaner. ‘

    • onesecond 3 years ago

      While all the addicts say “Keep your filth! We have to change or we die!”

  6. Radbug 3 years ago

    “We want to make sure they go ahead.” The only way Malcolm Turnbull can “make sure they go ahead” is by guaranteeing every dollar of debt that Adani, et al, raise. This will create a centrally planned economic development, just like negative gearing. If Steve Ciobo wants to curry favour with those miners in Flynn, Scott Morrison will have to front up with the loan guarantee document. And he hasn’t done so … yet, and I’m not surprised, Australia has a monster net foreign debt already. I still don’t know what will happen when the Big 4 come after the Federal government, waving Swanny’s bank bond guarantee, when this tsunami of empty 1/2 bedders crashes the apartment market.

  7. DevMac 3 years ago

    I’d sleep better at night if Steve Ciobo wasn’t in this country.
    🙂

  8. Carl Raymond S 3 years ago

    Q & A felt like the twilight zone last night. From what I’ve read recently, neither Adani (Carmichael) nor Shenhua (Watermark) wants our filthy coal. Both projects were off, but of course that’s not compatible with a “jobs n growth” tagline – so they are pretending like the coal business has a future.

  9. Phil 3 years ago

    I think it’s gone way beyond the parallel universe these fossils are living in.

    You only have to look at the Tesla model 3 scenario to see the Energy revolution is maturing and well underway, and unstoppable even. Transport is a HUGE use of energy , in fact similar if not more than a typical household’s energy consumption in the western world regardless of public private transport used.

    And it’s NOT likely to be coal as the energy source of model 3 tesla owners if they have any say in it.

    You also have to remember that Steve Ciobo is “on the record” as stating that Australian steel is not better or worse than Chinese steel because they BOTH use the same Australian iron ore.

    • Geoff 3 years ago

      Steve Ciobo is an idiot. I couldn’t stop laughing when he said to get jobs running in regional QLD is to get Carmichael off the ground. he must think that the mining boom is about to start when it’s already ended!
      As for Australian steel being no better than China, well that is a false statement. he is not an Engineer nor a Metallurgist. Even a first year engineering student would know this.

  10. onesecond 3 years ago

    The Coalition is completely delusional. Noone wants your dirty coal and no bank in the whole world is going to finance it.

  11. Luca Siciliano s/o Luigi Franc 3 years ago

    Every single activity has at least two phases (usually three). A planning phase, an implementation phase and an assessment and re-iteration phase. It IS the case that a given program is roadmapped across time and bridges given government and party identities. This report does not include that level of complexity and does not meet the it’s comparative aim.

  12. john 3 years ago

    India has a goal of having Zero Coal imports in 3 years.
    Besides the fact the landed price of Carmichael Coal is way above what is competitive this is fantasy.
    Simple price Carmichael $75 a tonne locally sourced coal between $35 and $54.
    Yes i know it is rubbish coal but Carmichael is not the best either.
    The simple fact is this never going to work.
    Why for instance will no international bank back the preposition?

  13. Brian Tehan 3 years ago

    Surely, it would be low risk for small target Labor to put up a case for no NEW coal mines? Leaving aside the environment, there’s not even an economic case because opening new mines will send the price lower.
    Labor are understandably nervous after the bollocking they got before and after the last election but I think that, since then, there have been so many unambiguous signs that climate change is affecting the environment that public opinion has shifted.

  14. john 3 years ago

    For anyone who is interested watch the short video posted on clean technica
    http://cleantechnica.com/2016/05/31/mark-jacobson-transitioning-100-renewable-economy/
    Mark Jacobson Stanford it is simple and straightforward on the matter of the transition that will take place.

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