In a remarkable outburst reminiscent of Marie Antoinette, the head of the European coal lobby has lashed out at what he described as “mob rule” by governments, following their agreement in Paris to seek to cap global warming at well below 2°C and possibly as low as 1.5°C.
Clearly not taking the news very well, Brian Ricketts, Euracoal’s secretary-general, wrote in a letter that the coal industry would be “hated and vilified in the same way that slave-traders were once hated and vilified” as a result of the Paris climate deal.
He also criticised what he called “mob rule” by a cabal of world governments and protesters at the Paris climate summit, which he said posed a threat to democracy itself. He also did not appear to accept the science of climate change.
“The world is being sold a lie, yet most people seem to accept the lie, even if they do not believe it,” Ricketts wrote in his letter. “The UN has successfully brainwashed most of the world’s population such that scientific evidence, rational analysis, enlightened thinking and common sense no longer matter.”
“You might be relieved that the agreement is weak. Don’t be. The words and legal basis no longer matter. Fossil fuels are [being] portrayed by the UN as public enemy number one. We are witnessing a power bid by people who see the democratic process as part of the problem and have worked out ways to bypass it.”
As one observer noted, it is a little rough describing 195 duly constituted governments as a mob, but the fossil fuel industry is clearly not used to not being in control.
But not in control is where they find themselves. They continue to be shunned by the stock market; reports emerged on Wednesday that shares of fossil fuel companies had been dented by the COP21 deal, while prices of both oil and gas were trading at more than seven-year lows.
But as Sky News put it, shares of coal companies “sank the most.” In the US, Peabody Energy Corp dropped 11.3 per cent, and Consol Energy fell 4.9 per cent. On the ASX, Whitehaven Coal closed trading on Tuesday at a 52-week low of $0.60c, down from $1.72 in February.
Meanwhile, fossil fuel supporters in the US appear to be having an equally hard time digesting what has happened, with Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio resorting to mockery and denial, by calling the Paris climate agreement an “unfunny joke.”
“This kind of unilateral disarmament in our economy is reckless, and it is hurting the American Dream,” Rubio told an event in Las Vegas on Monday, later expanding on his views in a conversation with Fox News.
“It’s all for show. I mean, the whole thing is for show. Number one, as you said, they’re not binding,” he said. “Number two, the administration has committed the United States to certain caps, but hasn’t told us how they’re going to do it, which obviously means they’re going to have more of these sort of regulations, at least that’s what they intend.”
In Australia, the Minerals Council has also opted for a brand of denial, arguing Australian coal will remain an important provider of affordable energy to developing countries, and that new low emissions technologies will keep coal in business as the world cuts carbon.