Leave coal in the ground, save the planet: climate change report

A new report calling on Australian coal to be left in the ground to combat climate change has been  labelled as ‘taxpayer-funded environmental activism’ by the industry.

The latest Climate Commission report warned that 80 per cent of global fossil fuel reserves will have to stay in the ground if earth is to avoid dangerous climate change.

"We have to leave most of the fossil fuels in the ground and of course that has obvious implications for investment decisions this decade,” said Professor Will Steffen, a climate commissioner who co-authored the report.

Professor Lesley Hughes, who also co-authored the report, said there will be catastrophic consequences if the world does not move away from the use fossil fuels, SMH reported.

"In order to achieve that goal of stabilising the climate at 2 degrees or less, we simply have to leave about 80 per cent of the world's fossil fuel reserves in the ground. We cannot afford to burn them and still have a stable and safe climate," she said.

However the Minerals Council of Australia has slammed the report and said the tax-payer funded agency is ‘following the same approach as the radical green movement.’

“There would be severe economic consequences if Australia’s coal industry was eliminated and no tangible environmental dividend,” chief of MCA, Mitch Hooke said.

“If the Climate Commission wants to eliminate the Australian coal industry, it should identify how Australia would replace the jobs and many billions of dollars in export and other revenue that would be lost to the economy.

“Rather than backing extremist proposals, the Climate Commission should be promoting the benefits of carbon capture and storage as a means of reducing emission from coal. You cannot have climate change management without a global clean coal solution.”

The federal government's Climate Commission said the results were ‘sobering’, but said there was no other way to ensure global temperatures stay at a manageable level.

"How people react to this is up to the policymakers and governments, as well as investors," said Hughes.

"It isn't our job to reconcile the politics of this with the science," she said.

"We are simply presenting the facts as best we know them. Just because the facts may be unpalatable to some people doesn't make them any less important."

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