6 September 2021

UN asks Australia to drop coal quicker, Australia not so sure

Climate change will intensely damage Australia’s economy unless coal is phased out quickly, Selwin Hart, the United Nations special adviser on climate change, said yesterday.

Glowing coal
© Amrit Leone/Unsplash

The country is still reliant on coal-fired power. While the UN has called for phasing out coal by 2030 in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries, which include Australia.

‘We fully understand the role that coal and other fossil fuels have played in Australia’s economy, even if mining accounts for a small fraction - around 2% - of overall jobs,’ Hart said in a speech at the Australian National University in Canberra.

‘But it’s essential to have a broader, more honest and rational conversation about what is in Australia’s interests.’

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said Australia is on a path to net zero but has not committed to a timeline. He has said that Australia would update its 2030 emissions projections before COP26.

Hart said, ‘If the world does not rapidly phase out coal, climate change will wreak havoc right across the Australian economy.’

Minister responds
Coal will be a major contributor to Australia's economy well beyond 2030 given growth in global demand, the country's resources minister commented today.

Australia's latest export figures indicate that, ‘the reports of coal's impending death are greatly exaggerated and its future is assured well beyond 2030,’ Resources Minister Keith Pitt said in a statement.

‘The future of this crucial industry will be decided by the Australian government, not a foreign body that wants to shut it down costing thousands of jobs and billions of export dollars for our economy,’ Pitt added.