Australia has 52 proposals to build new coals mines or expand existing ones! But we should be joining a moratorium on new coal development – because coal’s days are numbered.
The rapidly falling price of renewable energy such as wind and solar, combined with the growing resolve of China, the US and others to reduce their emissions, put a dark cloud over the future of coal.
Coal mines are intended to have lives of 50 to 90 years. Will coal prices be high enough in 30 or 40 years to make continued production profitable? If not, investors in new coal mines won’t get their money back, but will be lumbered with “stranded assets” – assets that no longer earn much of a return.
It’s now widely accepted by international agencies that meeting the goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees requires keeping most fossil fuels unburnt and in the ground.
This helps explain why the world’s big banks, including our own, have become markedly less enthusiastic about financing new coal mines. That – plus the present flat state of the world coal market.
Preventing further coal development – including by governments declining to subsidise new mine railways and ports – wouldn’t just reduce future greenhouse gas emissions. It would avoiding causing a further decline in coal prices, it would also benefit the owners of existing mines, the banks that have lent to them and those who work for them, as well as the owners of present and future renewable energy projects. Not to mention the governments dependent on revenue from price-based mining royalties and company tax collections.
The Age: Ross Gittins: 14 Oct 2015
Key Words: Climate Change, OzPolitics, fossil fuels
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