"Australia has received seemingly contradictory messages about coal this week.
In a UK study published today in Nature
, scientists found Australia must keep
95% of coal in the ground if we have any hope of stopping the planet warming
beyond the crucial limit of 1.5℃.
These findings echo the message of senior United Nations official Selwin Hart,
who earlier this week urged Australia to end the use of coal by 2030. He warned
if the world doesn’t boost climate action urgently, Australia can expect more
frequent and severe climate disasters such as droughts, heatwaves, fires and
Meanwhile, markets for coal seem to be sending the opposite message.
The price of Newcastle thermal coal recently reached a record high of US$180
per tonne due to rising electricity demand in India, China and other Asian
countries. That seems to suggest whatever the consequences, Australia and the
world are not going to give up on coal or other carbon-based fuels.
But it’s a mistake to place too much weight on fluctuations in coal markets.
Earlier this year, the price was about US$50 per tonne and seemed likely to
fall further. The current price tells us nothing about the choices we face in
reducing emissions by 2030.
It’s entirely feasible for Australia to phase out thermal coal by 2030 — we
just need political will."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics