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Loy Yang Power Station in Victoria's Latrobe Valley, ranked as producing the highest volume of greenhouse gas emissions. Tracy Deichmann via flickr.
Defend the Planet

Australia Refuses to Shift Away From Coal Despite Recent Dire Climate Warning

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The smoke from coal power plants is extremely hazardous to both human health and the environment. Improving the environment gives people the opportunity to survive and thrive in a world free of extreme poverty. Taking action to address climate change is critical to this. Join us in taking action here.

The Australian government has rebuffed a plea from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to eliminate coal-fired power by 2050, despite the IPCC’s harrowing warning that the world has less than 12 years to avoid global climate catastrophe.

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The report implored world leaders to take action to prevent global temperature increases from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsicus above pre-industrial levels. To meet this target and, in turn, limit rising sea levels, increasing forest fires, and the spread of deadly disease, the report claims carbon dioxide pollution needs to be cut by 45% by 2030 — instead of 20%, the target laid out in the Paris Agreement. 

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack responded by revealing he “understands the concerns” of the report. He announced, however, that ultimately Australia would not alter its emissions reduction path “just because somebody might suggest that some sort of report is the way we need to follow and everything that we should do."

"I’ll certainly consider what it has to say. But the fact is, coal mining and coal-fired power stations do play an important part of our energy mix in Australia and will do so going forward,” McCormack told Sky News. "I'm very much supportive of the coal industry. I haven’t seen anything that’s going to replace coal in the near future.”

Similarly, Environment Minister Melissa Price told ABC AM she dismissed environmental experts who urged Australia to shift its climate policy. She said Australia was on track to meet its Paris Agreement targets thanks to the nation’s Emissions Reduction Fund, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and the government’s investment in hydro-electric.

When pressed about eliminating coal completely by 2050, Price claimed it would be “irresponsible to make that commitment” due to the fact that clean coal technology could become a reality in the coming years.

"Coal does form a very important part of the Australian energy mix,” she stated. "We make no apology for the fact that our focus at the moment is getting electricity prices down.”

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Despite assurances that Australia is on track to meet its climate requirments, a report released last month from private consultant NDEVR Environmental announced Australia was set to exceed its Paris Agreement emissions target by almost 1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.