The Turnbull government has been accused of “browning down” the deal to limit global coal plant subsidies, struck this week by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development, after the compromise it proposed alongside South Korea was worked into the agreement.
Reuters reports that members of the OECD agreed on Tuesday to restrict subsidies used to export technology for coal-fired power plants, putting an end to “months of wrangling” on the controversial topic.
The deal will mean an end export credits for inefficient coal plant technology, effective January 1 2017, with a review scheduled for 2019 with an eye to strengthening the agreement’s parameters.
The Canberra-Seoul compromise, meanwhile, allows for the construction of smaller, less efficient “supercritical” coal plants of up to 500MW in developing countries – this is defined as countries where the electrification rate is below 90 per cent (see India, Philippines, South Africa, Indonesia).
And while the sealing of the OECD deal – compromise and all – is being chalked up as a win by many, including US conservation group the Sierra Club, others are not impressed.
According to the Australian Greens, the Turnbull government’s deal could allow the development of up to 16,000MW of extra coal plants – already in the planning pipeline – to be financed.
The Greens also note that the deal appears to allow two 500MW units to be built together, for a total of 1000 MW per facility.
For India, Indonesia, Philippines, and South Africa, the total capacity in planning that is listed as both supercritical and smaller than 501MW amounts to 1200MW, the Greens said in a release on Wednesdsay.
“But if we also include those projects for which the type of combustion technology is unknown (a large category), the numbers are much larger: 16,625 MW in 49 projects,” the release said.
Greens Senator and climate spokesperson, Larissa Waters, said the Turnbull government’s “grubby gambit” had tipped the scales against clean energy in these developing countries, and towards coal – a situation that would benefit Australia’s resources sector.
“Wealthy nations should fund clean energy in developing countries, not coal-fired power stations, which pollute air and water and exacerbate global warming,” Waters said.
“This cynical strategy is driven by the Coalition government’s desire to please its big mining donors at the expense of the world’s poorest people and Australia’s safe climate future.
“Right until the last moment, Australia was threatening to block the historic deal between the USA and Japan to restrict OECD subsidies to the dirtiest coal power plants,” she said.
“We welcome this small step forward, but it’s tragic that the Turnbull government succeeded in browning down the deal at the last moment.”