Australia has rejected calls from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report to phase out the use of coal by 2050, describing such actions as “irresponsible”, instead focusing on its priority of cutting domestic electricity prices.
Melissa Price, Australia’s environment minister, who previously worked in the mining industry, said: “To say that it [coal] has to be phased out by 2050 is drawing a very long bow”.
She added: “I just don’t know how you could say by 2050 that you’re not going to have the technology that’s going to enable good, clean technology when it comes to coal. That would be irresponsible of us.”
Australia generates two thirds of its domestic electricity from coal and gained a record $61 billion from export earnings in the financial year 2017-2018.
Following the publication of the report, Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said: “Let’s not forget Australia accounts for just over 1% of global emissions. There are a lot bigger players than us out there. … Emissions per capita in Australia are at their lowest level in a decade.”
Under the Liberal-National coalition, Australia became the first country to scrap a national carbon tax in 2014.
“If we take coal out of our energy system, the lights will go out on the east coast of Australia — it’s as simple as that,” said Josh Frydenberg, Australia’s treasurer.