Pressure on PM over coal

27 Oct, 2015 05:51 AM
David Pocock is among 61 prominent Australians to sign an open letter asking for a moratorium on coal mining.
We, the undersigned, urge you to put coal exports on the agenda at the 2015 Paris COP21
David Pocock is among 61 prominent Australians to sign an open letter asking for a moratorium on coal mining.

SIXTY-ONE prominent Australians including Wallabies star David Pocock, a trio of former Australians of the year and eminent scientists and economists have pressed the newly turned 61-year-old Malcolm Turnbull to stop any new coal mines and to put an international moratorium on coal on the agenda of the forthcoming Paris climate talks.

The push represents the new front in the climate change wars, with the high-powered group arguing Australia's relatively small domestic share of global greenhouse emissions obscures the vast environmental damage of burning Australian coal in places such as China and India.

Backed by green and social action organisations, the 61 eminent persons have signed an open letter featured in full-page advertisements in Fairfax Media newspapers, calling on the host of the December talks, French President Francois Hollande, and Mr Turnbull to oppose new coal developments - including the Carmichael mine in Queensland's Galilee Basin.

?The Paris climate change meeting is the largest global gathering on the environment since the Copenhagen summit in 2009, which ended in widespread disappointment.

The signatories, which include erstwhile Australians of the year Professors Fiona Stanley, Peter Doherty and Tim Flannery as well as one time Reserve Bank Governor Bernie Fraser, current Wallabies flanker Pocock and Anglican churchman Bishop George Browning, have called on Mr Turnbull and other world leaders to recognise that it is not just the fossil fuels a country burns for its own energy that matters, but those dug up for export to others.

"We, the undersigned, urge you to put coal exports on the agenda at the 2015 Paris COP21 climate summit and to help the world's governments negotiate a global moratorium on new coal mines and coal mine expansions, as called for by President Anote Tong of the Republic of Kiribati, and Pacific Island nations," the 61 say.

The low-lying Pacific Island country of Kiribati is one of many micro-nations in danger of serious damage and even inundation from rising sea levels caused by melting polar ice and increasingly turbulent global weather.

"Australia has a larger share of the seaborne coal market than Saudi Arabia has of the world oil market," the open letter states.

"While world leaders discuss emission reduction targets, a small number of countries with large coal reserves, including Australia, are planning to massively expand their coal exports. These plans are incompatible with the world's objective of limiting global warming below dangerous levels."

It notes that Australia has a "larger share of the seaborne coal market than Saudi Arabia has of the world oil market".

"Over the next 10 years Australia plans to double its coal exports. If it goes ahead, the Carmichael mine in Queensland's Galilee Basin would export more than 2 billion tonnes of coal over its lifetime. And that's just one mine. Australia has dozens of coal projects on the drawing board."

Just weeks before his leadership collapsed, Tony Abbott unveiled Australia's post-2020 emissions reduction targets pitching on the low side of hopes with cuts of 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels, by 2030.

This, along with his much criticised "Direct Action" program which uses a tax-payer furnished emissions reduction fund to pay companies to lower their emissions, constituted the main elements of the Coalition government's climate change response.

Labor, which is yet to announce its full policy, has slammed Direct Action as a fig leaf for inaction. Leader Bill Shorten plans to travel to Kiribati, Papua New Guinea and the Marshall Islands from Sunday of next week to highlight the real dangers of climate change - especially for some of the world's poorest nations.

In a clear sop to climate sceptics in his party room, Mr Turnbull has insisted that nothing in Australia's suite of policies will change. But he has also indicated that he will now attend the Paris talks, fuelling hopes that he wants to lift the pace of action and achieves a more urgent response.

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Philip Downie
27/10/2015 10:36:17 AM

Listened to Malcolm he spoke like it was just Australia and that would be a waste of time, but obviously he misrepresented it a bit (a lot). People don't look for new solutions whilst the old system is still running. Malcolm is all about innovation, opportunity and science, so put the pressure on. Not likely.
27/10/2015 12:12:00 PM

Downie states "People don't look for new solutions whilst the old system is still running". Thank goodness few Australians subscribe to that cave minded philosophy.
27/10/2015 2:46:17 PM

Pocock has had his head in to many scrums.
Philip Downie
27/10/2015 3:33:54 PM

Anyone who thinks coal is the future certainly subscribes to that Steve. "Necessity is the mother of invention" remember that one?
27/10/2015 6:21:04 PM

The stone age didn't come to an end because they ran out of stones
28/10/2015 5:32:00 AM

Pocock might be a Rugby celebrity but when it comes to the running of our country he has no more status than any man or women in the street. So just get on with winning us the world cup David and when your career is finished start your political career then and see how far you get.
29/10/2015 10:24:58 AM

Quite right, chops. The Stone Age ended because our ancestors used their brains, and invented technologies which worked better than stones. Today the issue is energy, and we have the opportunity to leave behind inefficient 19th century coal-burning technologies, with their potentially devastating side-effects, and continue to develop better means of generating energy. If we were really a clever country, we'd be leading the world. We did, for a while, but the wealthy anti-science knuckle-draggers got their way.
29/10/2015 1:50:00 PM

Cute idea Nico, but, how about you develop the new industries first then we shut down the old ones. let us know when you are good to go. oh, and if you want to use my taxes to subsidise something, subsidise food production, not hair brained schemes to build what is almost stone age alternatives (windmills) with subsidies that make their international owners rich, you feel good and the rest of us pay for a technology that is not viable.
29/10/2015 2:51:08 PM

It's already happening, chops. We are good to go, now. The question is, should Australia be a leader? Or are we willing to be left behind? There were probably Stone Age tribes who refused to have anything to do with metal. "Nasty stuff, that bronze. Won't have it in MY cave. (Grunt!) Stone was good enough for my father ..." You are right about food security, but it depends on energy security. We have renewables, we have geothermal, we may even have (perhaps) safe and viable nuclear, though not yet.
29/10/2015 3:01:13 PM

What devastating side effects Nico ? I have yet to hear about them.
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