The war on coal

Dr Nikki Williams: "There's a global campaign against the coal industry.  It's effectively a war on the world's largest source of primary energy for electricity production.  It has very major implications.  It is not about improving our industry's environmental performance or the social outcomes of what we do.  It is about extinguishing the coal industry and that I think has really serious implications, not obviously only for the coal industry but indeed for the world.  In Australia, 75% of our electricity is generated from coal and that competitively priced reliable energy source has been what has underwritten our economy.  It's what has allowed manufacturing to exist.  People are perhaps not aware that 1.1 million Australians work in energy intensive industry and that's only possible because of this reliable coal fired power which runs our economy.  The sector in Australia is a $60 billion sector, it allowed the Australian economy to ride the global financial crisis.  So it's hugely significant in terms of underpinning our economic prosperity in this country and indeed the growth of businesses which require energy.  But I think what isn’t often appreciated is the 1.4 billion people on the planet who don’t have access to a single electric light bulb.  Now for those people, access to reliable and available coal fired power will be essential in eliminating poverty.  So we have a situation where you've got a base load fuel for power generation for the world, the use of that fuel is increasing, there are clearly impacts of mining both at a local level and it is clear that coal combustion contributes to greenhouse gas levels which we are told are heading towards an unacceptable trajectory.  So it's vital that we control those emissions.  The answer, however, is not a war on coal to eliminate it because it's simply unrealistic.  It's not actually a solution to the climate change issue.  The solution to coal use of course is the application of new technologies and our industry is very keen to see those technologies deployed both here in Australia.  But much more importantly in the rest of the world, particularly China and India who are the largest, their economies are growing so quickly and they are consuming vast, the vast majority of the world's coal.  So if you don’t have a solution for coal use in China and India you simply do not have a solution to climate change."

Categories: Activism, Climate Change, Coal in Australia, Economy, Global Markets, Global Poverty, Jobs
Author: Dr Nikki Williams
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