Coal Rocks On, Features

Morrison govt pushing coal in Asia

By Eve Sinton • Fossil Fool Bulletin 27 September 2019

Fresh details of Morrison Government’s coal spruiking have emerged as Australia was blocked from speaking at this week’s UN climate summit.

New documents were released under Freedom of Information as Australia was blocked from speaking at the United Nations climate summit in New York due to the Morrison Government’s ongoing support for coal and lack on new climate commitments.

The documents reveal the lengths the Morrison Government is going to spruik polluting coal across the world, despite worsening climate damage and increasing hits to Australia’s international reputation.

Sales pitch in Vietnam, Bangladesh

They suggest coal was a central topic of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s visit to Vietnam in August, with the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science urging the strong focus to “partially mitigate declining [coal] exports elsewhere, notably China”.

The documents, released to the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), also show Resources Minister Matt Canavan spruiked coal to officials from Bangladesh, where millions of rural and poor people are at extreme risk from climate damage, on a recent trip during in which he also flogged coal to India.

“Our government is trashing Australia’s international reputation because of its addiction to polluting coal,” ACF Climate Change Campaigner, Christian Slattery, said.

“As major importers of Australian coal transition to cleaner forms of energy, the Morrison Government is doing the industry’s bidding by trying to push more coal on other markets.

“Australia could become a clean industry superpower. A recent study from the Australian-German Energy Transition Hub detailed how we could become a net exporter of clean energy through green hydrogen, green steel and aluminium produced from green electricity.

“But the Morrison Government seems instead intent on selling a twentieth century technology to a twenty-first century world and doing a great deal more climate damage while they are at it.

The briefing note to Senator Canavan, said that with “a significant expansion of coal-fired power in Bangladesh expected in the near future”, there were opportunities for Australia “to establish a new export market for thermal coal”.

It outlined three new coal-fired power plants expected to open in the low-lying south Asian nation, in addition to one existing plant, noting reports that Bangladesh coal imports “could reach 45 million tonnes by 2025”.

In a section on “sensitivities”, the briefing note says: “none”.

Denialist government’s chutzpah

Writing in Crikey, Jeff Sparrow said, “If chutzpah was combustible, Prime Minister Scott Morrison could single-handedly solve the global energy crisis.

“After ostentatiously not attending the UN climate action summit, our ‘man of titanium’ capped off his American tour by insisting that China, as a rising power, must do more to reduce emissions.

The effrontery was gobsmacking, not merely because the statement coincided with analysts and former diplomats accusing Scott Morrison of leading a ‘denialist government’ – but also because, in 2018, Australia sold China about $15 billion worth of coal, a substance that, as you might have heard, bears some link to carbon pollution.”

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