Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison has slammed calls from radical climate activists to end the export of coal – an industry worth $67billion a year to the nation’s economy – as a new report shows global demand is set to keep increasing over the next decade and beyond.
Strong demand from China and India for this electricity-generating commodity is driving the growth. Morrison wants Australia to maintain its edge by staying a key exporter and protecting the jobs of Australians who rely on the coal mining industry for their future and their financial security.
Nationally, the coal mining industry employs 50,400 people, when thermal and coking operations were combined, Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force data for November showed, with exports going mainly to China, India, Korea, Japan and Chile.
The conservative coalition leader spoke on the back of protests last week that called for Australia to end coal exports to ease pressure on the climate.
Morrison, who once once famously brandished a lump of coal in parliament, crying, “This is coal – don’t be afraid!” vowed those climate protesters – including Greta Thunberg – would not be dictating energy or trade policy.
Not even catastrophes like these seem to bring any political action. How is this possible?
Because we still fail to make the connection between the climate crisis and increased extreme weather events and nature disasters like the #AustraliaFires
That’s what has to change.
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) December 22, 2019
“I never panic,” he told the local Sunrise program last week. “I don’t think panicking is to way to manage anything and the urge for panic that has come from some, often politically motivated, to pursue a particular agenda is not something I’m ever intimidated by or distracted by.”
“We won’t embrace reckless targets and abandon our traditional industries that would risk Australian jobs while having no meaningful impact on the global climate,” he said in an opinion piece for the Daily Telegraph.
“In short, we will continue to act responsibly on climate change, avoiding extreme responses and get the balance right.”
He spoke just days after a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) revealed Australia’s coal exports are expected to rise over the next five years on the back of growing demand from Asia.
The report, published by the IEA on 17 December, found demand for coal in India could rise by 4.6 percent by 2024 and by 5 percent in Indonesia and Vietnam. As a result, Australia’s total coal production is expected to rise 1.4 percent annually from 409 million t in 2018 to 444 million t in 2024.
Coal exports were worth an estimated AUS$67 billion (US$45.9 billion) to the nation’s economy in the 2018 – 2019 financial year, overtaking iron ore as Australia’s most valuable export.
Matt Canavan, Australia’s Minister for Resources, said the report supported the need for new coal mines in the states of New South Wales and Queensland. He commented: “We will need more than Adani,” referring to the Carmichael coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.
The Adani mine, which received final environmental approval in June, is expected to produce at least 10 million t of thermal coal every year.