‘We’ll keep mining’: Australia resists climate policy pressure
Federal Resources Minister Keith Pitt is promoting Australian coal and lashing calls from international scientists and diplomats targeting Australia’s fossil fuel policies, as the Prime Minister defends a move to excise a reference to climate commitments in a trade deal with the UK.
“The reality is that global demand for Australian coal is increasing and forecast to continue rising into the next decade at least,” Mr Pitt said on Thursday.
Resources Minister Keith Pitt.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer
His statement responded to a report by Science journal which said 95 per cent of Australia’s coal cannot be dug up if the world is limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees by 2050 – which is the goal of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
It was the second time in a week that Mr Pitt responded to international questions about the long-term viability of the Australian coal industry.
He responded to UN Assistant Secretary-General Selwyn Hart on Monday, who said to achieve the Paris goals Australia must cut out coal-fired power by 2030 and commit to reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
“The future of this crucial industry will be decided by the Australian government, not a foreign body that wants to shut it down, costing thousands of jobs and billions of export dollars for our economy,” he said.
Mr Pitt said the government “stands with our resources sector, including the coal industry”, and international pressure on Australian industry created a “test for Anthony Albanese and Labor”.
“Will they support Australian workers in such an important industry or will they allow Australian resources policies to be set by overseas interests?”
When asked on Thursday if Australia was open to signing a deal with other countries to set a deadline on the end of coal exports, Prime Minister Scott Morrison did not specifically refer to coal but said mining was “absolutely critical to Australia’s future” and “we will keep mining the resources that we’re able to sell on the world market”.
Mr Morrison also pledged to work with developing nations on emissions reduction to “ensure that they can engage in a positive transition of their own energy economies”.
An email leaked to Sky News UK showed senior British ministers had dropped their request to include a reference to meeting the Paris goal of limiting global temperature rise to as close to 1.5 degrees as possible in a free trade deal with Australia.
Mr Morrison said Australia’s commitment to the Paris Agreement was “clear” and trade deals should be separate from climate agreements.
“In trade agreements, I deal with trade issues. In climate agreements I deal with climate issues,” he said.
Climate is also expected to play a role in ongoing negotiations with the European Union over a free trade agreement.
Asked about the issue during a webinar with the Australia Institute last month, Cecilia Malmstrom, the former EU Trade Commissioner who commenced negotiations with Australia on the agreement in 2018 said the bloc would not accept a deal that abandoned the Paris Agreement.
“There are some red lines there that, without them being there, the agreement would not be accepted by member states, but particularly the European Parliament, who attaches great importance to make sure that there is a legally binding reference to the commitments made in the Paris Agreement,” she said.
She added that other international agreements, including any arrived at during the upcoming climate talks in Glasgow, would be equally important to EU negotiators.
The Australia Institute’s climate and energy program director Richie Merzian said the leaked email suggested the Australian government was prepared to block a trade deal with a key ally, but ultimately the UK relented.
The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.
Most Viewed in Politics
From our partners
Source: Read Full Article