Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called on the Australian government to join the global effort to meet the world’s growing energy needs with cleaner and renewable power sources.
In an address to Australia’s federal parliament on Tuesday, Modi said one of his government’s top priorities was to provide electricity to every household, derived from “energy that does not cause our glaciers to melt.”
The clear reference to global warming would have been a refreshing change in a parliament that has so actively avoided any mention of the world’s changing climate and its potentially catastrophic effects.
“I see Australia as a major partner in every area of our national priority, providing skills and education to our youth, a roof over every head and electricity in every household,” said Modi, naming clean coal and gas, and nuclear alongside renewable energy as future generation choices.
Abbott, meanwhile, was keen to keep the focus on coal.
“If all goes to plan next year, an Indian company will begin the development of Australia’s largest coal mine which will light the lives of 100 million Indians for the next half-century,” he said.
Of course he’s talking about the highly controversial, and much maligned $16.5bn Carmichael mine in Queensland’s Galilee basin – and the accompanying expansion of Abbot Point coal port – proposed by Indian company Adani.
But not everyone is as excited about the coal mine’s prospects as Tony Abbott. Multiple global investment banks have categorically ruled out investing in the project, due to the high risk of stranded assets, and last week an Australian analyst described the Queensland government’s funding of the project as “pissing taxpayers’ money up against the wall.”
“The Galilee coal projects are totally, commercially unviable,” said Tim Buckley, Director of Energy Resource Studies Australasia at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).
“Any project undertaken is highly likely to end up as a stranded fossil fuel asset as the rest of the world rapidly transitions to lower carbon solutions. Coal has entered structural decline – there is no two ways about that fact.”
Buckley said the people of Queensland and Australia should be outraged at the idea of “coal addicted” politicians going where international financiers feared to tread, and spending “many billions of tax payer dollars to make an unviable, unwanted and dangerous mega coal project a reality.”