MAC: Mines and Communities

Australian greens seek to outlaw all coal use by 2030

Published by MAC on 2019-10-15
Source: Renew Economy

Greens seek to outlaw coal use by 2030, push climate emergency as Labor

Michael Mazengarb

Renew Economy (Australia)

14 October 2019

Australian Greens MP Adam Bandt has tabled legislation in the Federal
Parliament that would place a cap on the amount of thermal coal that
Australia exports to other countries, and would gradually outlaw the use
of coal altogether by 2030.

The Coal Prohibition (Quit Coal) Bill 2019 would prevent the establishment
of new coal mines or new coal-fired power stations, gradually phase out
the export, importation and the burning of coal by 2030, and establish
criminal offences for the use of coal after 2030.

The Bill would also place a cap on the export of thermal coal at current
levels, approximately 200 million tonnes per year, with this cap
gradually reduced to zero by 2030. The Bill would also prevent the
expansion of existing coal mines or power stations.

Breaches of the controls proposed by the bill could attract a term of
imprisonment of up to seven years.

“The Greens’ bill will steadily phase-out the export of thermal coal until
it ends in 2030 and will prohibit the construction or expansion of any new
coal mines or power stations,” Bandt said.

The Greens cited recent research published by the International Monetary
Fund that suggested a carbon price of US$75 (A$110) would be needed across
industrialised countries to ensure emissions were reduced to a level
consistent with limiting warming to no more than 2 degrees.

But Bandt added that the seriousness of the climate emergency meant that
coal needed to be directly regulated in the same way other toxic
substances are controlled.

“The climate emergency is so severe that a carbon price alone will no
longer fix the problem,” Bandt said. “When it comes to phasing out coal by
2030 as the science requires, even the IMF has acknowledged that a carbon
price is necessary but not sufficient.

“The Greens will continue to argue for the revival of the Greens/Labor
carbon price, the only policy to successfully reduce pollution, but the
Liberals have lifted pollution so much that we need to do more.”

“Coal is the next asbestos. Like asbestos and tobacco, we now know things
about coal we didn’t know before. We now know that coal kills people when
used as directed, so we need to treat it like asbestos and regulate its

Progressive think tank The Australia Institute echoed the message that the
International Monetary Fund research meant that Governments were obliged
to act quickly on climate change.

“The IMF analysis notes that climate change will cause ‘major damage to
the global economy’ and ‘risks of catastrophic and irreversible outcomes’
however it excludes these huge costs from the study,” the Australia
Institute’s climate and energy program director Richie Merzian said.

“If there is one clear message for the Australian Government, it is get
your act together. Australia’s emissions are increasing, not falling,
because there is no credible climate and energy policy.”

The Greens legislation comes as the Liberal government seeks to capitalise
on ongoing tension and uncertainty within the Labor party over its own
positions on climate and energy.

Following the election loss in May, Labor has faced internal pressure to
make itself a small target on climate policy, with Labor frontbencher, and
Hunter Valley MP, Joel Fitzgibbon pressuring his party to adopt the
Liberal party’s 2030 emission reduction targets.

The division within the Labor party over energy policy featured
prominently in the government’s talking points, that were inadvertently
sent to the entire Canberra press gallery, on the first day of this week’s
parliamentary sitting.

The Australian Greens are also expected to move a parliamentary motion
making a declaration of a climate change emergency during the sitting

A formal e-petition calling on the parliament to make such a declaration
has attracted more than 334,000 signatures, smashing the record for the
amount of support received by an official electronic petition.

The Coal Prohibition (Quit Coal) Bill is unlikely to pass the
government-controlled House of Representatives, where the Liberal-National
coalition commands a majority.

Michael Mazengarb is a journalist with RenewEconomy, based in Sydney.
Before joining RenewEconomy, Michael worked in the renewable energy sector
for more than a decade.

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