Australia’s coal deal with China

by Milan on March 4, 2010

in Climate change, Climate science, Coal mining, Economics, International relations, Power plants

Given their level of water scarcity, Australia may be the developed nation most exposed to climate change risks. Unfortunately, that has not translated into political action. Now, Australia is cementing its role as a carbon-intensive state, with a $60 billion deal to provide China Power International Development with 30 million tonnes of coal annually for the next two decades.

This is exactly the wrong thing to do for so many reasons. It locks two important states into the usage of yesterday’s energy source, in defiance of the risks that both face due to climate change. Rather than supporting China’s destructive coal habit, advanced economies like that of Australia ought to be helping them to develop and deploy low- and zero-carbon forms of energy. Unless rapidly developing states like India and China can put themselves onto a low-carbon development path, our chances of avoiding dangerous or catastrophic climate change are slim indeed.

Also, if developed countries continue to supply the world’s dirtiest fuels to states like China, they cannot continue to use Chinese inaction as an excuse to do nothing at home. China, Australia, and everyone else need to move beyond fossil fuels. This deal does the opposite.

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. April 6, 2010 at 10:50 am

“A Chinese freighter crashed into Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Saturday, running aground and spilling heavy fuel oil into the water. The ship is stuck, and while the flow of oil has been stopped, rescuers worry that righting the ship could create even more spillage.

Besides its fuel, the ship that rammed the reef was carrying another toxic fuel—Australian coal meant for power-plant furnaces in China. Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal and China the world’s largest consumer of coal, so the route the ship was supposed to run is a common one. But the coal is incidental—the ship could have been carrying solar panels and the fuel spill would have been just as damaging.”

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