Australia’s fossil fuel reserves

by Milan on June 7, 2011

in Climate change

Australia has a lot of fossil fuel, which could be either used domestically or exported:

Coal is still Australia’s main minerals export, and Queensland produces about a third of the world’s coking variety, the kind used to make steel. The hot new product in Queensland, though, is coal-seam gas. When Queensland in 1998 mandated that 13% of its electricity should come from natural gas, companies went out to look for it and found enough in the state’s coal seams, they believe, to power a city of 1m people for 1,000 years. The country’s main industrial research organisation thinks Queensland and northern New South Wales together have about 200 years’ worth of gas at current rates of production.

Hopefully, Australians will recognize how risky it is to dig up and burn all that fuel, given the danger of destabilizing the climate. It should be left underground, while renewable and zero-carbon forms of energy are developed.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Byron Smith June 7, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Hopefully, the Moon’s gravitational pull will suck all the carbon out of the atmosphere. Probably about as likely, unfortunately. But maybe I’m just feeling cynical today.

A series of rallies in favour of a beleaguered carbon price managed to gather 40,000 people on Sunday, but big coal has big influence in Oz (just like the Tar sands in Canada). Australia is the world’s #1 exporter of coal, and the strength of our minerals exports are widely credited with helping the country (so far) avoid much pain from the GFC.

. March 13, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Coal port growth threatens Barrier Reef: Greenpeace

Australia’s rapid expansion of coal ports in the next decade will threaten the Great Barrier Reef as increased ship traffic, port infrastructure and dredging put pressure on the world’s largest coral reef, Greenpeace said on Thursday.

Coal is one of Australia’s top export earners, and the Great Barrier Reef sits off the coast of the eastern state of Queensland, the country’s largest coal-producer.

“The creation of mega mines in central Queensland, the accompanying export infrastructure and increases in shipping traffic, as well as the burning of the coal they produce, place an incredible burden on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef,” the environmental group said in a report.

peer reviewed science March 13, 2012 at 7:18 pm

Climate science
The extended reach of Australian drought
Journal name: Nature


Volume: 483, Page: 8
Date published: (01 March 2012)
DOI: doi:10.1038/483008a
Published online 29 February 2012

The Big Dry, a prolonged drought that affected southeast Australia from 1997 to 2011, was more extensive than previously thought.

Gavan McGrath at the University of Western Australia in Crawley and his colleagues analysed satellite data from across the continent and found evidence of decreased water storage, rainfall and plant growth throughout the country between 2002 and 2010. In the southeast, the drought correlated with an irregular Indian Ocean circulation, whereas in the northwest it was associated with a decreased frequency of tropical cyclones. The authors say that the northwest drought coincided with and probably exacerbated the one in the southeast.

The findings suggest that distinct climatic factors such as decadal cyclone trends and changes in ocean circulation can combine to create a continental-scale drought.

. April 1, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Climate change ‘irrelevant’ in coal mine decision

Queensland’s Land Court has recommended the state government approve Xstrata Coal’s massive new thermal coal mine at Wandoan, in the Surat Basin, and deemed objections based on the mine’s likely contribution to climate change as ‘‘irrelevant’’.

The Wandoan project, in planning for years and potentially the largest thermal coal mine in the southern hemisphere, was challenged by environment group Friends of the Earth (FoE) on the grounds that it would be responsible for 1.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over its lifetime – equal to twice Australia’s annual emissions – and displace 11,000 hectares of agricultural land.

In a decision handed down this afternoon, Land Court president Carmel MacDonald recommended approval of the project, subject to groundwater monitoring and make-good obligations, and to excision of certain lands, but found that the concept of the environment in the state’s environment protection law was ‘‘limited to Queensland’s environment’’.
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‘‘The reference in the ESD (environmentally sustainable development) principles to ‘the global dimensions of environmental impacts of actions and policies’ appears to allow the Court to take into account the global impacts of the project,’’ Justice MacDonald said.

‘‘But whilst the FoE argue that limiting the consideration of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions to the extraction of the coal would be inconsistent with this principle of ESD, it is my view that the court can only be concerned with the global impacts of the “mining activities” which are the subject of the environmental authority application before the court – that is, the physical activities of winning and extracting the coal that may be authorised.

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