November 17, 2017 Read More →

Australia’s Energy Policy Comes Under Global Scrutiny

Sydney Morning Herald:

Australia’s backing of the fossil fuel industry is expected to come under more scrutiny at the Bonn climate talks in Germany, as a global effort to reduce coal use gathers momentum.

Britain and Canada were expected to launch the Global Alliance to Power Past Coal at a Thursday media conference aimed at phasing out consumption of the high-emissions fuel.

The alliance was expected to announce nine more nations would sign up to the group, including Italy, France, Mexico and Finland, an at least one African nation, Reuters reported.

The Marshall Islands, one of the alliance members, stepped up its criticism of Australia’s policies, with its President, Hilda Heine, saying every nation should seek to end burning coal to prevent dangerous climate change.

“We are very disappointed, I would say, in Australia because we are neighbours to them,” President Heine said on Wednesday, adding that Canberra was well aware of the threat facing low-lying nations in the region.

“So we hope that maybe a new government can come in and change the position of the current government, which is continuing to promote coal,” Dr Heine said.

Adam Bandt, the Greens climate spokesman who is attending the Bonn conference, said Australia was emerging as one of the chief blockers at the talks.

“Instead of joining with other developed countries to announce a coal phase-out, Australia has aligned itself with [President Donald] Trump’s US in a coalition of coal huggers,” he said, adding the Marshall Island’s call for a change of government was “unprecedented”.

“The only praise Australia has received at this summit has been from a coal baron, brought out by Trump’s US team, who lauded the Turnbull government for ‘putting coal back on the table’.”

Tim Buckley, a director of the Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis, said nations like Marshall Islands were not likely to have much choice in campaigning against fossil fuel use.

“They’re facing an existential threat to their country,” he said. “It’s not like they are trying to get a trade advantage.”

Mr Buckley also pointed to this week’s release of the World Energy Outlook 2017 by the International Energy Agency that had quietly cut estimates of coal demand out to 2040 by 5.1 per cent.

While the cut is not huge, the agency’s repeated underestimates of renewable energy’s expansion meant its coal demand would likely be too optimistic.

The IEEFA, for instance, expects global installations of new solar energy to be 50 per cent higher – at more than 100 gigawatts in new capacity – than the IEA is predicting for the annual uptake of 73 GW for the next five years.

More: Call for a change of Australia’s government as anti-coal alliance gains momentum

Comments are closed.