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.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

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.

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

  1. Evan Beaver

    I wish this was true: ” the CPRS will “cost the industry more than $14b over 10 years”, cause 16 coal mines to close prematurely and cost 9000 jobs. ”

    I’m sick to death of the rent seeking over this. Of course their business will be impacted; That’s the Bloody Point! Did James Hardie get compensated for bans on asbestos products? were international manufacturers compensated when CFCs were phased out? Not to my knowledge. Put up or shut up I say.

    They’ve been making money hand over fist by digging up dirt and selling it overseas for bloody years. There’s is not an industry of innovation or reserarch, it’s bloody caveman stuff. The good times are over. Sod off.

  2. Altakoi

    What irritates me about the bleating of the coal industry is that they are only being asked to pay for the cost of the pollution produced by their product. Any industry can be hugely profitable if its main cost is removed to the public purse – factories would be far better off economically if they could also dump toxic waste rather than minimising, containing or disposing of it. But what is good for a firm is not necessarily good for the economy. Coal earns about $18 billion per year, which is nice if you own a coal mine or work in one. But it is not a huge employer compared to many other sectors of the economy threatened by global warming and it is simply not important enough to be a protected species.

  3. Ben Carew

    Evan nicely said. Sod off times one thousand.

  4. AR

    Altakoi skewers the principle of Capitalism, private profit, public cost. Find one, just ONE, big buck$ indu$try that does NOT rely upon this principle.
    Oz, being vast with 70% of its tiny population within 50kms of the SE coast, is a textbook example of a 3rd World cash quarry – I won’t say ‘farm’ (>70% of our rural output is for export – Katter & Barnaby Rude are right for the, usual, wrong reasons) since our land use is little more than soil mining – viz Orange Sydney Morning . And who pays for the waste, destruction & pollution of public property? Not BigBiz that for $ure.

  5. Most Peculiar Mama

    “…There’s is not an industry of innovation or reserarch, it’s bloody caveman stuff. The good times are over. Sod off…”


    Once again Evan, you proffer no real alternative solutions to sourcing base load energy.

    The masturbatory fantasies of the “Wind & Sun” cult have even been exposed for the steaming pantload they are.

    And by one of your own no less.

    I suggest you read Professor Barry Brook’s (yes, THAT one) latest treatise on the comedic gift that is the “renewable energy industry” ‘and his frank admission that the only way forward is nuclear.

    I look forward to reading your thoughts.

  6. Altakoi

    Personally, Mama, I yawn at posts which apply sarcasm like house paint rather than detailing. Its so overdone its camp.

    Anyhoo, I have no problem with nuclear as a climate change solution. I think you will find standard fission methods use no coal.

    I think solar thermal can provide significant amounts of baseload in Australia, a continent famous for being a) empty and b) bloody hot. I am really sure that geothermal could provide baseload if it were funded more agressively than the current crop of small start-ups can manage. Perhaps a couple of billion in free ETS grants could help things along.

  7. Evan Beaver

    You’re not even a very good troll are you MPM?

    I know so much about the many options available to deliver ‘dispatchable renewables’ (I think that baseload is a shocking misnomer. What benefit is there in producing power when no-one needs it?) that I shan’t be diverted by your poorly baited hook.

    In any case, you’ve completely missed the point. I didn’t say they should all close, but was, badly I’ll admit, supporting the notion that we should stop subsidising them. That’s all. Make it a proper open market where companies pay for their pollution.

    Plenty of reports suggest that nuclear is a terrible option for Australia. Too expensive and too slow. Waste problem not solved. This is not related to the article though, so I’m not going there.

    Also, I’m not about to change my views because someone wrote, what, an actual book! With frank admissions no less. And what on Earth is ‘One of my own’? Some faux intimacy with your audience to try and troll on another level?

  8. Most Peculiar Mama

    “…solar thermal…”

    A ridiculous suggestion that has been comprehensively debunked…even a grade 9 science student knows this.

    You must be a Geodynamics shareholder like Mr Flummery.

    I’d love to here your cost-benefit analysis of getting the “hot-rock” power to market…particualry across a continent as vast as Australia.

    Economies of scale will make it cheaper you say.


    Oops…is that sarcasm?

  9. Evan Beaver

    Ahhh, no it’s not sarcasm. Sounds like ignorance to me.

    This is pretty kooky, even by your normal high standards. Solar thermal is the conversion of solar heat into electricity. “Comprehensively debunked?” WTF are you talking about? The sun shines, it makes things hot, you poor water on a hot thing and use the steam to drive a turbine. Pretty simple. Even simpler than burning dirt.

    Then, Geodynamics? Don’t have anything to do with solar. Hint: the GEO is to do with dirt and rocks. To the best of my knowledge, Geodynamics are concerned with deep-geothermal power generation.

    Any of these cost benefit analyses depend pretty strongly on the economic setting in place; ie do we have a CPRS and what does it look like. With out one, sure the economics are awful. But with a price of $20-30 a tonne geothermal gets cost effective pretty quickly.

    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?

  10. 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.

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