We will be loud against the silence
Angry at the greed
We will not beg
We are defiant
Tell it like it is
– Phil Monsour and the crisis actors, ‘Our House is on fire‘
The global climate deal reached at the Paris climate talks was silent on what do to about coal. It isn’t even mentioned in the (Paris 2015) agreement text.
This week the Paradigm Shift (4ZZZ fm 102.1 Fridays at Noon) looks around the country at proposed new coal mines and the resistance to them – from Gomeroi traditional owners in NSW to farmers in central Queensland.
We also have an update from Ben Pennings (Galilee Blockade) on the campaign to stop Adani’s infamous Carmichael mine in Central Queensland.
Andy, Ian & guests
Friday 12:00 – 1:00 PM July 3, 2020
Welcome to the Paradigm Shift on FM 102.1 4ZZZ Fridays at noon. We challenge the assumptions of our current society, to resist oppression …
This week we look around the country at proposed new coal mines and the resistance to them – from Gomeroi traditional owners in NSW to farmers in central Queensland. We will also have an update on the campaign to stop Adani’s infamous Carmichael mine in Central Queensland.
Ziggy Ramo – Stand for something
The Lurkers – Mining man
Mick Daley and the Corporate Raiders – No minister
Stretch Farbrigas – Adani stinky farty
Formidable Vegetable Sound System – Climate movement
2 thoughts on “New Coal Mines in Australia”
WBT received this article in response to the Paradigm Shift’s program about New Coal Mines in Australia. It is by Trevor Berrill – Sustainable Energy Systems Consultant and Educator.
The Battle for the Green New Deal
The battle over the expansion of coal and gas mining continues to confront Australians, as indigenous Australians lose country and heritage, farmers see strategic cropping legislation fail to protect precious fertile land, and coal seam gas fields and coal mines scar the countryside. Australia is now the biggest world exporter of both these fossil fuels (1). A “Green New Deal” (GND) has been suggested as a solution to the climate crisis and now a pandemic recovery. It has the potential to replace the need for mining coal and gas. It could transform the Australian economy, building a renewable energy power system, high speed rail between Brisbane and Melbourne to replace cars and much aviation use, producing green hydrogen from renewables as an export fuel, reduce emissions and deliver thousands of jobs. All of this has been shown to be technically and economically feasible in comprehensive analysis reports by organisations such as Beyond Zero Emissions. But such a “Deal” looks unlikely in Australia, under the current Federal LNP government. Its aim is to limit renewables, which have continued their rapid growth even during covid-19 pandemic, both in Australia and internationally.
Energy Minister, Angus Taylor is doing this in a number of ways. Firstly, the LNP have stacked the National Covid-19 Coordination Committee, responsible for recovery planning, with fossil fuel representatives, promoting fossil fuel infrastructure programs, instead of renewables. Secondly, Taylor is slowing down changes in electricity industry regulation to prop up the incumbent large fossil fuel generators as their financial models crumble, at the expense of cheaper renewables with storage. Thirdly, he is allowing fossil fuel projects to receive funding from both the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CFC). Both these organisations were set up under Labor to promote renewables. The LNP have repeatedly tried to shut them down but have failed in the Senate. Instead, Taylor is promoting gas and the oxymoron of “clean coal” again. Most of these measures, except the first, were already in place before covid-19 struck (2).
But Taylor is facing stiff opposition to his plans at a State level as the States want a foot in both camps, selling fossil fuels, upgrading transmission systems to assist rapid expansion of renewables with storage. This isn’t going to slow new coal or gas mines though. You have to look at the bigger global picture to see what is happening internationally with fossil fuel demand, and what other countries or regions are doing with renewables as part of a GND.
Globally, the pandemic’s slowing of the world’s economy has resulted in a huge reduction in demand for all fossil fuels (oil and coal mostly), with global greenhouse gas and other emissions down by 17 percent in April, and predicted to be 8 percent lower for 2020, the lowest since 2006. This is associated with a reduction in energy use of up to 25 percent in countries during full lock-down (3). Many organisations and experts are calling for the opportunity to move to the “Green New Deal” as the way to address both economic recovery and reduce greenhouse gas and other emissions from fossil fuels. In Australia, this includes many conservative groups including the Business Council and the Australian Industry Group, as well as Unions and green groups (4). This is largely because they recognise that new industries are often labour intensive in their early phase of development, as is the case with renewable energy. There are about 3 times the number of jobs created for each unit of energy generation from renewables compared to coal and gas generators (5).
Currently the pandemic response has reduced fossil fuel use and emissions, but at a huge economic cost, and potentially mass unemployment and social/political instability. The question is, can a “Green New Deal” get us out of this mess and clean up the environmental and social costs (called externalities) associated with fossil fuel use? According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, “These substitutions (I.e. of renewables for fossil fuels) would reduce externalities by at least USD 1.2 trillion per year and as much as USD 4.2 trillion per year by 2030, in comparison to current policies” (6). These savings would help fund a “Green New Deal”.
So what is happening globally to implement a GND? The European Union is attempting a “Green New Deal” (7), but it’s likely to be piece meal, given the tensions across the EU, and the exit of the UK. Some Asian countries are planning part measures, such as South Korea. But China is key and may stimulate polluting industry instead to reboot the economy (8). America is in crisis although some progressive States will act as much as they can. As a whole nation though, America is rejecting this strategy under the Trump administration and supporting the fossil fuel industry, which is in crisis and being heavily subsidised (9). However, to address both the pandemic, its economic / social / political consequences and the climate crisis, will require a level of international cooperation never seen before. That doesn’t appear to be happening. Overall, it seems to me to be unlikely that a “Green New Deal” will get enough international cooperation to address both the climate and pandemic crises.
The Battle for the Green New Deal
Trevor Berrill – Sustainable Energy Systems Consultant and Educator
1. Coal seam gas and coal exports and emissions https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/2020/07/09/australia-export-fossil-fuels/
2. Renew magazine (2020 – issue 152). “Transition delayed”. http://www.renew.org.au
3. Reduction in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions https://www.iea.org/reports/world-energy-investment-2020
4. Support for Green Recovery https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/may/22/australian-government-urged-to-back-sustainable-covid-19-recovery-with-clean-energy-transition
5. Jobs in renewables 3 times more https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jun/07/renewable-energy-stimulus-three-times-as-many-australia-jobs-fossil-fuels-coronavirus-economic-recovery
6. Environmental and socials costs of fossil fuels https://www.irena.org/-/media/Files/IRENA/Agency/Publication/2016/IRENA_REmap_externality_brief_2016.pdf
7. EU Green New Deal https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/priorities-2019-2024/european-green-deal_en
8. Asian Countries Green New Deal https://www.eco-business.com/news/how-green-are-asias-post-covid-economic-recovery-plans/
9. Green New Deal in USA https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/the-green-new-deal-is-more-relevant-than-ever/
Employment as security guards, and in cafes, coffee shops and cleaning in the regional towns are not real jobs. They are not unionised and the awards in those jobs are pathetic. Plus such jobs are not productive. Retail & café jobs are used by workers to supplement income from other sources.
I think people in regional areas of Australia understand the difference between a real job and a fake job.
Ironically it is partly for this reason that people in the regions voted for Morrison’s support for coal.
During the last federal election, they sensed that Labor was equivocal on mines like Adani. They understood that Labor had no solutions for real jobs in Queensland. Neither does the LNP.
Until regional voters are convinced that there will be real, long term employment with proper conditions they will continue to oppose the ‘Green New Deal‘ outlined here and in the US by people to the Left of the Democratic Party.
When jobs are raised, opponents of new coal mines may claim the existential threat of carbon outweigh concerns over employment . They may claim alternative energy companies will provide better employment in the regions. I just do not buy it, privately owned renewable energy companies are run for profit not for workers rights. As are coal mines. It is just that coal mines in Qld & NSW are unionised.
I find arguments that imply that one group of people have greater insight into the future than another group unhelpful. Such arguments often ring with moralism.
16 July 2020