Aerial view of the Adani Carmichael coal mine in Queensland, Australia. Adani's Carmichael project has been the focus of opposition by organizations ranging from the United Nations to green groups fighting new coal projects in the environmentally sensitive area. Photo:

By Sophie Vorrath
19 April 2016

(RenewEconomy) – The Turnbull Coalition government has kicked off its informal re-election campaign by repeating its desire to build a massive coal fired power station in north Queensland, only this time it proposes to use climate funds to help pay for the project.

In confirmation that little has changed in the switch from the Abbott to the Turnbull regimes, Queensland MP Ewen Jones became the latest member of the Coalition to outline the federal  government’s plan for future energy innovation: more fossil fuels.

On the same day as a compelling economic case for shifting Australia to 100 per cent renewable energy is published, and just days ahead of Australia signing the Paris climate agreement, Jones suggested that the government could use funds from Direct Action, as well as the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the northern Australian infrastructure fund, to support development of a 1.2GW coal-fired generator in north Queensland.

Ignore for a moment the fact that Australia already has a surplus of nearly 7,000MW of coal-fired capacity, and the carbon emissions impact of adding yet more, Jones argued that a coal-fired power station was critical to address unemployment issues around Townsville.

“The one thing we can’t do in North Queensland is develop our industrial base, because the cost of power is just so huge,” Jones told the Q&A audience on Monday night.

“If, through using Direct Action … and the clean energy finance corporation and private money we can develop a power plant or a power station (to power the planned Adani Carmichael coal mine) of 1.2GW and make it a super efficient, or an ultra-efficient, ultra-critical power plant, we can then bring the $5 billion concessional loan facility on developing the north of Australia that can build the poles and wires, which will be a saleable asset, to bring that power to the national energy market.”

Leaving aside the obvious contradiction of using federal government funds allocated to fight climate change and to finance renewable energy to build a coal plant to power a coal mine, it sounds like a great plan – just not one for this century. […]

At least John Hewson, a former leader of the Liberal Party leader and an economist, gets it. As he told the Q&A audience on Monday night, “the Adani Carmichael mine is a massive mistake for this country” – both economically and from the point of view of climate change.

“The climate change numbers are that about 75 per cent of known coal reserves today cannot ever be mined (if we’re going to meet climate targets),” Hewson said.

“So to contemplate opening a large new mine simply for the benefit of exporting that coal to India, it boggles my mind.” [more]

Coalition wants to build 1.2GW coal plant, using climate funds



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