Turnbull government accused of blocking US, Japan plan to reduce coal

Malcolm Turnbull’s government is opposing a plan that would limit public financing of coal power to only the “cleanest” plants available.  The Turnbull government is standing in the way of the US and Japan as they try to dramatically reduce the ability of rich countries to fund coal plants in the developing world.

Documents seen by Fairfax Media show Australia has opposed a US-Japan plan that would in effect limit public financing of coal-generated power by Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries to only the “cleanest” coal plants available, mostly those classed as “ultra-supercritical” generators.

The proposal is to be debated at an OECD meeting next week in Paris, amid hopes it will provide a boost to the global climate summit a fortnight later.

A source familiar with the discussions said: “There would be a very real-world, material difference under this proposal”.

It is expected it could reduce the funding of coal by OECD public agencies by billions by making more polluting power stations ineligible.

Japan – the world’s largest public financier of coal plants – last month reversed years of opposition and will now back the US proposal. The US-Japan plan also includes a clause that a coal plant could only win public funding if cleaner alternatives, such as renewables, were not viable.

But the deal will be scuppered if Australia and South Korea remain opposed. Australia’s submission, filed in response to the US-Japan plan, would still allow large “supercritical” coal plants to be publicly financed, despite their higher emissions, and would not require an evaluation of cleaner alternatives.

Australia is one of the world’s biggest coal exporters, but its export credit agency, the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation, does not fund coal plants.

The source familiar with the talks said countries supporting the current position were, in effect, supporting a “negative carbon price” – an incentive for developing countries to build coal plants rather than look for cleaner alternatives.

Australia has pledged $200 million to the Green Climate Fund to help the poorest cope with global warming, so the source said the proposal to keep the current rules on coal funding was “akin to bailing water out of sinking canoe while at the same time making a larger hole in the hull”.

Sydney Morning Herald: Adam Morton: 10 Nov 2015-11-10

Key Words: Climate Change, OzPolitics, International
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