Mining industry launches “ludicrous” coal ad as Alan Jones takes aim

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Ad wars: Mining lobby talks up “endless possibilities” of coal, including ability to “slash” emissions, while Alan Jones launches keep out campaign of his own.

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The Minerals Council of Australia has followed up its recent print media campaign bemoaning the unfair legal advantage green groups have over major mining developments, with a new advertisement spruikng the “amazing” and “endless possibilities” of coal, and claiming it is now able to slash its emissions by up to 40%.

The multi-media campaign, called Little Black Rock, was launched over the weekend with a 30 second TV commercial that, sounding just like Tony Abbott, lists the endless possibilities of coal; including the delivery of $6 billion in wages for Australians, and the injection of $40 billion a year into the Australian economy.

“It can create light, and jobs. …It produces steel, and powers our homes, as well as out economy… and it can now reduce its emissions by up to 40 per cent. It’s coal. Isn’t it amazing what this little black rock can do?”

Indeed it is. As Fereidoon Sioshansi put it in an article published on RE in June, “coal is plentiful and cheap, the perfect fuel for the utility boiler, only if it were not for the fact that it is heavily polluting… (and) carbon loaded,” in an increasingly carbon constrained world.

It is for this reason – namely, avoiding dangerous climate change – that a recent report from Australia’s Climate Council advised that 90 per cent of the nation’s Little Black Rock reserves must stay in the ground; an outcome that would undoubtedly limit their endless potential.

To counter this sort of thinking, the Minerals Council campaign claims that low-emission coal-fired power plants and carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is “now a reality”, that is slashing emissions. And it wants to use this campaign to initiate an “informative and rational discussion” about the fossil fuel’s future.

But it’s an optimistic view. As Sioshansi points out later in that same article, despite governments in coal dependent economies around the world pumping money into CCS to varying degrees, “to date, few successful commercial-scale options have emerged.”

Rather, he adds, “CCS has proven technically challenging and financially expensive – certainly on a scale large enough to make a difference.”

Last month, it was revealed that the developer of America’s first commercial-scale clean coal project in Mississippi was “on the brink of bankruptcy,” due to soaring costs and long construction delays (it is two years behind schedule and $4.4 billion more expensive than the original estimate.)

Meanwhile, the cost of renewable energy sources like wind and solar is falling lower and lower, with the cost of energy storage soon expected to follow suit, leaving coal without much of an up-side, as an energy source.

To Blair Palese, from climate group 350.org, the campaign by the Minerals Council is a sign that Australia’s coal industry is feeling the pressure.

“We’ve got climate talks coming up in Paris and the steamroller effect of action happening globally, with companies and governments moving away from coal, is scary for the coal industry.

“This desperate ad is a figment of the Mineral Council’s imagination and cannot stand up to the reality of renewables cutting into the market with very little support. People will see through this but sadly there is no transition plan to renewables in Australia,” he said.

“This is a ludicrous ad,” said Kelly O’Shanassy, chief executive of the Australian Conservation Foundation. “Coal is a dangerous little black rock. Every climate scientist and almost every politician in the world knows that coal is very polluting and very dangerous. The only people who don’t get that are the Minerals Council and our government.

“I’m glad that the Minerals Council has woken up to the 18th century potential of coal. I can’t wait until they see the 21st century potential of renewable energy.”

Meanwhile, a separate adverting campaign has been launched by anti-mining group, Lock the Gate, starring Sydney radio host and born again environmentalist, Alan Jones, and calling on the Abbott government to abandon plans to restrict the legal rights of green groups to challenge mining developments in Australia’s courts.

“I may live nowhere near the Liverpool Plains, or the Great Barrier Reef,” says Jones in the TV ad, “but I sure as hell am concerned that they are protected.

“This move by the Abbott Government puts at risk not only our environment but our very democracy,” he says. Don’t get him started on wind farms, though.

You can see the Jones ad below, which will air on Sky News from today.

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11 Comments
  1. Chris Fraser 4 years ago

    The proposed EPBC changes would provoke a very long-lasting schism between the Coalition and Jones. Do they have the fortitude for that ?

  2. Colin Nicholson 4 years ago

    The problem with any proposal to cut emissions from coal is the capital cost of new plant, which of course never gets a mention (though the FFI or is that FFFI parades the capital costs of renewables front and centre). So you could replace yallourn et al with a brand new Super/ultra critical coal burner and get a 40% reduction (more an indicator of Yallourn as a gross polluter rather than the latest tech coal as being particularly spectacular), but at what cost, and then there is the 60% … This ad is as much about gas as it is renewables.

  3. Greg J Nunn 4 years ago

    Technology has advanced to the stage where capital intensive coal fired power stations with their associated electrical transmission and distribution systems are obsolete. A house with an efficient 10kw solar array will produce 16000kwh per year, enough to power an average home AND two electric cars driving an average daily distance. I don’t know how to justify the capital expenditure and ongoing maintenance costs for a generation, transmission and distribution system under these circumstances.

  4. trackdaze 4 years ago

    Wanted: brave coal mining co that fully understands it future and takes the bold leap to see itself as an energy company and diversifies into renewables.

  5. Beat Odermatt 4 years ago

    Why not advertise Cobb&Co? I am sure a transport industry based on horses and buggies will would create a lot of jobs and organic manure. It seems there is a lot of money to be made trying to dress the past as future. Using the logic used by the coal industry the Government should promote smoking as it would kill of a large percentage of the population and therefore reduce old age pension cost.

    • nakedChimp 4 years ago

      I like your thinking.

      😉

    • Chris Fraser 4 years ago

      Well of course Cobb & Co was the whole reason behind letting the ultramodern auto industry go. Abbott a man of his times … not.

  6. john 4 years ago

    when Alan Jones points out your case is not good then you do have a problem here is a person who talks to the deciders of every election.
    Alan used to support Tone absolutely how on earth did this happen.

  7. Rob 4 years ago

    This is a classic example of how conservative minds think. They are unimagintive and uncreative. They’re very slow to grasp and adapt to new circumstances and opportunites. They rely doggedly on what worked yesterday. They find change befuddling. In short they’re slow witted. Not the sort of people you want leading you in a rapidly changing world.

  8. Loomy 4 years ago

    In the Commercial it says ” …It can now reduce itsemissions by up to 40%…”

    That is if you build a State of the Art NEW Coal Power
    Generation Plant…which FEW countries are building EVEN as they Built New
    Plants!

    Australia has NO Coal Power Plants of 40% Efficiency and in
    the IEA’s own optimistic Report it says:

    “The IEA predicts that the average efficiency of coal-fired generation will
    improve from 36% to 40% by 2035..”

    So in 20 YEARS the average Efficiency of World Coal Powered Generation will hit that 40% Mark.

    The IEA also says that FROM TODAY up till 2050 :

    ” To limit the average rise in global temperature to
    between 2°C and 3°C it will be necessary to halve (from current levels) CO2
    emissions by 2050. ”

    Emissions from coal-fired power generation will need to be
    reduced by around 90% over this period…”

    Their own estimates say in 2035 emissions will average 40%
    Emission reduction. Meaning that within the next 15 YEARS after that, Emission
    reduction MUST reach a total of 90%.

    Do the Maths…that means in the 15 YEARS from 2035 the
    Further 50% Emission Reduction REQUIRED to be reach the 90% Emission reduction by 2050 LITERALLY means:

    EVERY SINGLE Coal Power Generating Plant in The WORLD in
    2035 must be

    REPLACED with a NEW PLANT capable of reducing Coal Emissions
    by 90% !!!!

    Which, by the way, is NOT YET Possible and assumes that most
    countries will Have to SCRAP Plants ONLY RECENTLY BUILT with these Not Yet
    Invented 90% Emission Reduced Plants.

    And Pigs will Fly.

  9. Rob 4 years ago

    They seem to have left some dialogue out of the “Coal, isn’t it amazing what this little black rock can do” promotion. Such as… “Isn’t it amazing how polluting and damaging to our environment and health coal can be. And isn’t it amazing how carbon emissions from the burning of coal can cause global warming to the extent that the climate is changed resulting in environmental catastrophe from extreme droughts, bushfires, cyclones, hurricanes, rising sea levels, coastal erosion, flooding, tidal inundation, ocean acidification, melting of ice caps and glaciers, extreme economic disruption, displacement of populations, etc. And isn’t it amazing how many coal miners have died extracting the “little black rock”. In a single incident in China in 1942, 1549 miners died in one explosion. In 2006 in China 4749 coal miners were killed. In 2009 in China 2631 coal miners died. In the U.S. alone in the 20th century, 100,000 coal miners lost their lives in coal mining accidents.” And finally, “Isn’t it amazing that some people still want to peddle this stuff when we now have vastly superior alternatives, ie: clean renewable energy in all its forms”. Amazing!

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