The Federal Government’s carbon emissions trading scheme will cost the coal industry up to $5 billion within its first five years, Australian Coal Association (ACA) executive director Ralph Hillman told a Senate inquiry last night.
Speaking at the Senate Select Committee on Climate Policy hearing, Hillman said that by not including coal mining in the Energy Intensive Trade Exposed (EITE) class the Government will cause enormous damage to the industry while doing little to reduce greenhouse emissions.
“From a coal industry perspective the main flaw in the proposed CPRS has been the unfair exclusion of coal from the Emissions Intensive Trade Exposed arrangements,” he said.
“There are a number of options for emissions trading that would comprehensively address the competitiveness impacts on trade exposed industries and particularly Australia’s largest export industry, coal.”
Hillman said that while it was initially felt that the coal industry could sustain not being included in the EITE class, that notion had changed in the current economic market.
“The decision to treat coal differently from other trade exposed emissions intensive industries was taken right at the peak of the boom,” he said.
“Coal was seen as doing extremely well, with very strong prospects and I think it was thought that coal could afford to meet the costs of the CPRS without any assistance.”
He said that the result of the industry’s exclusion will also be international customers looking elsewhere for coal.
“There are plenty of other suppliers of coal who will happily supply international markets,” he said.
“The majority of our competitors are in developing countries that will not be subject to a carbon price in the next decade, including Indonesia, Colombia, South Africa, Mongolia, China, and Vietnam.
“The emissions will go up there, they will get our market and there will be no climate benefit globally and Australian jobs will have gone out the door.”
Hillman believes that the coal industry has not been taken properly into account and has been treated unfairly during the process of the emission trading scheme’s implementation.
“Coal was treated unfairly in the White Paper and in the following legislation that will lead to substantial job losses, loss of competitiveness and lower investment in the coal industry in Australia,” he said.
“The industry is not asking for special treatment, just fair treatment.”