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Sep 29, 2009

Coal Association scores own-goal on emissions trading

The Australian Coal Association’s campaign against the Government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme has been undermined from the outset by its own website.

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The Australian Coal Association’s campaign against the Government’s emission trading scheme has been undermined from the outset by the Association’s own website, which features material that directly contradicts the claims in its campaign, and by the CFMEU, which has attacked the campaign as “blatantly dishonest.”

The campaign was unveiled yesterday with considerable fanfare due to the involvement of Neil Lawrence, who was responsible for the successful “Kevin ‘07” Labor advertising campaign before the last election.

The ACA claims in its campaign that the CPRS will “cost the industry more than $14b over 10 years”, cause 16 coal mines to close prematurely and cost 9000 jobs. The figures are drawn from an Association-commissioned report by ACIL Tasman which compared a CPRS-based reference with “business as usual”, involving significant industry growth. The 16 mine closures forecast are all of mines that would have closed anyway within a few years under “business as usual”. The 9000 figure relied on an employment multiplier of 3 — i.e. only 3000 coal mining jobs were actually forecast to be lost.

But two links below the campaign video on the ACA website, the Association linked to an article “Boom forecast for coal output“. The article includes industry estimates that 13 new coalmines would be opened and $23 billion invested in the sector between now and 2015. ABARE figures that the industry saw $10.4b in new investment in the month of April 2009 alone were also quoted. Conversely, the article quoted the Minerals Council of Australia rejecting ABARE speculation that a Japanese carbon levy might reduce demand for Australian coal. Apparently moves to reduce greenhouse emissions in Japan won’t affect Australian coal but similar moves here will be a disaster.

The import of the article is clear: the effects of the CPRS even when modelled by industry-hired consultants will be swamped by industry growth fuelled by Asian demand.

Crikey emailed the ACA early this morning inviting comment on the disparity between the campaign and the material linked to by the Association. No response had been received by deadline, but the link to the “Boom forecast for coal output” article was moved off the front page during the morning. Google Cache shows the original page before the change.

It’s yet another example of the extraordinary disparity between the optimism and endless growth spruiked by industry leaders when talking to investors and the financial media, and the apocalyptic forecasts that accompany their demands for compensation under the CPRS.

The key mining union, the CFMEU, has also savaged the industry campaign.

“Industry research predicts mining jobs will increase by 120 per cent on 2006-07 levels in Queensland by 2030 under the Federal Government’s plan for tackling climate change,” CFMEU mining president Tony Maher said.

“Australian coal mining companies are extremely profitable and will continue to be well into the future under the Federal Government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. This scare mongering is purely a cynical bid by mining giants to squeeze more money in compensation out of Australian taxpayers.”

Dead right. And the Association’s own website shows why.

Bernard Keane — Politics Editor

Bernard Keane

Politics Editor

Bernard Keane is Crikey’s political editor. Before that he was Crikey’s Canberra press gallery correspondent, covering politics, national security and economics.

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16 comments

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16 thoughts on “Coal Association scores own-goal on emissions trading

  1. Altakoi

    a) No, I don’t think it has been debunked – there are solar thermal plants operating in the 50+ MW range, and more are under construction. Its a whole lot more real than ‘clean coal’ and, as I have said, if Australia thinks it has an abundance of cheap coal it is as nothing to our abundance of flat areas with good sunlight.

    b) Have been a geodynamics shareholder, but not currently. They have the right idea, and have been undermined by lack of government funding. This should have been a billion dollar grant rather than a half-billion dollar IPO. As I say, its a better investment in new technology than an equivalent grant in ETS permits to mother coal.

    c) Part of the cost-benefit is that you have to build transmission lines. The ones currently used by the power industry from coal stations were largely built by government utilities and then sold, so if the government would be kind enough to build some to the Cooper basin then it will be a fair analysis of costs.

    d) Economics of scale do make it cheaper. Silly farty noise does not invalidate this.

    e) No, not sarcasm, thats just petulance.

    I actually agree with Evan that nuclear is a poor option, I was just pointing out that someone being pro-nuclear is not support for you being pro-coal.

    If someone could switch on some gigawatts of nuclear power today I would be all in favour of it as a means of decreasing coal burning, but the problem is that no plants exist. Building the stations in anything like the time required is not feasible and, as mentioned, they are expensive to build, maintain and dispose of. I think there are better alternatives.

  2. Most Peculiar Mama

    “…Why won’t economies of scale make it any different? Why does the size of the continent influence the cost? Doesn’t it just have to connect to the grid in one place?…”

    Um, no.

    Been outback lately Evan?

    Big isn’t it.

    Here’s another list of BIG things we don’t have in this country:

    National Education policy
    National Health system
    National Energy (Gas/Electricity) strategy
    National Water policy
    National Ports management
    National Road/transport initiatives
    National Rail strategy…laughably only up until very recently have we a unified national gauge.

    Are you seriously suggesting that the government (Federal, State or Local) has the capacity AND the cojones to construct a nationally integrated and regulated grid of solar thermal transmission stations?

    One that would need to span the length and breadth of the entire continent?

    In Victoria they won’t even build a dam to secure a water supply for an expected 2 MILLION increase in population by 2050.

    What evidence do you have that ANY government possesses the ability to coordinate and execute such a MONUMENTAL and EXPENSIVE national public works inmitiative.

    And in what time frame do you think this benevolently co-ordinated magic pudding would/could be effected?

    And spare me the “but we gotta do sumthin'” gumpf.

    Just building a roundabout in a suburban street takes MONTHS before a spade even hits the ground.

    The ETS acolytes cannot even clearly outline ANY details of their emissions plan.

    Not a SINGLE DETAIL.

    Just the we gotta have one and before everyone else does.

    Why? Because Kevin and Penny say we must.

    And they wonder why no-one’s listening

    Evan, help us understand how your mind works.

    And drop the juvenile troll carp.

    Crikey is not a petri dish for you and your fellow travellers to huddle together and congratulate yourselves on how much you all agree with each other.

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