Coal down but not out: COP26, Morrison

COP26

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Australia’s coal industry is fighting hard to assure itself that a ‘phasing down’ of coal power, as agreed upon at COP26, would not mean the end of coal altogether.

The final day of the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, saw strong debate over the wording of the commitments signed onto by almost 200 nations, replacing “phase out” with “phase down” in regard to coal consumption.

Following the final day, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a press conference where he said the event was the turning point for coal.

“Together, it is beyond question that Glasgow has sounded the death knell for coal power,” Johnson said.

Despite this, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison responded to questioning at a press conference to say that coal power had a significant place in the future of Australian mining, and that COP26 did not spell the end of coal.

“I don’t believe it did. And for all of those who are working in that industry in Australia, they’ll continue to be working in that industry for decades to come, because there will be a transition that will occur over a long period of time,” Morrison said.

“And I make no apologies for Australia standing up for our national interests, whether they be our security interests or our economic interests.

“We have a balanced plan to achieve net zero by 2050, but we’re not going to make rural and regional Australians pay for that.”

The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) argues that even if coal were to be phased down or out, the state’s high-quality coal reserves should be the last to go.

“Queensland coal mines should be the last coal mines closed in the world because it’s the best quality coal there is, and that goes for our thermal and metallurgical coal,” QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said.

“The world needs Queensland coal more than ever to support the transition to a cleaner, greener and more sustainable future.

“Right now, steel can only be produced commercially by using metallurgical coal, and thermal coal is the only 100 percent reliable way to produce energy.

“This will change as fast as the technology will allow and our industry will evolve accordingly, but the road to a lower emissions future is a long one that needs to be managed in an orderly and logical way.”

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