Forget subsidy-hungry wind, solar and hydro power alternatives. Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott believes coal is the future because it’s good for humanity. To prove he is a man of his word, Mr Abbott’s conservative coalition government has approved another massive new thermal coal mine for the resource-rich land Down Under. Cue apoplexy from the perpetually indignant green left.
Last week a contentious A$1.2bn open cut coal mining project was given the thumbs up by the Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, allowing for 268 million tonnes of coal to be extracted until 2046. The mine is in the state of New South Wales. The project, the third begun under Mr Abbott in less than 12 months, was approved after rigorous environmental testing and consultation with the local community.
Yes, there were Green Party opponents who called the mine ‘disastrous’ and ‘economically insane’, but in the end the mine went ahead because of the national interest.
Mr Abbott’s stated belief is that fossil fuel not renewable energy holds the key to a viable future – not just in Australia but across the developing world. In November last year he said:
“For the foreseeable future coal is the foundation of prosperity. Coal is the foundation of the way we live because you can’t have a modern lifestyle without energy, you can’t have a modern economy without energy.
“So if we are serious about raising people’s living standards in less developed countries, if we are serious about maintaining and improving living standards in countries like Australia, we have to be serious about making the best use of coal.”
The new mine is consistent with that approach. It will deliver jobs and energy. For all the wailing of those wedded to spurious notions of wind and solar power somehow taking over from fossil fuel as a way to power homes and industry, there is no way Mr Abbott, a leader who repealed a tax on carbon pricing and abolished the independent Climate Commission advisory body in his first months of office, will back down.
The prime minister’s chief business adviser Maurice Newman is also on board. In May he accused the United Nations of using debunked climate change science to lead a new world order just as a visit from the top UN climate negotiator concluded in the national capital Canberra.
Christiana Figueres, who heads the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, travelled Australia urging the country to move away from coal production.
Mr Newman, the chairman of Mr Abbott’s business advisory council and a climate change sceptic, told her the UN was using false models showing sustained temperature increases to end democracy and impose authoritarian rule.
“The real agenda is concentrated political authority,” Newman wrote in an opinion piece published in The Australian. “Global warming is the hook. It’s about a new world order under the control of the UN. It is opposed to capitalism and freedom and has made environmental catastrophism a household topic to achieve its objective.”
In 2013, Australia was the world’s fifth-largest coal producer, after China, the United States, India and Indonesia. However, in terms of proportion of production exported, Australia is the world’s second largest coal exporter, as it exports roughly 73 per cent of its coal production. That is more than the US and Russia combined.
Mr Abbott wants Australia to harness those coal reserves to ensure humanity’s future prosperity no matter what the UN says. All of which should make Australia a lively participant at the UN’s own climate change conference in Paris come December.
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