Major Parties Fail On Climate: 12 New Coal Plants Proposed

As federal Parliament resumes this week, climate change is back on top of the agenda. Both sides continue treating the issue like a political football. It’s a bit like being diagnosed with cancer and then having your doctors endlessly squabble about what to do about it.

The reality is that while Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott bicker, there are plans to build 12 new coal power stations in Australia. Neither Rudd’s CPRS nor Abbot’s hodge-podge policy will stop them being built.

If all of these plants are constructed, they will increase Australia’s total annual greenhouse emissions by approximately 39 Mt CO2-e, or around 7% compared to 2008 emission levels.

Emission for the electricity generation sector have already grown by a whopping 54% in the last 20 years and approval of the proposed 12 new power stations will add a further 20% growth in future years.

CPRS or not, Australia is locking itself into an economy fuelled by the most polluting energy source available. Rather than preventing new coal plants and driving investment in renewable energy, the CPRS will see Australian money flooding abroad as offsets. The so-called “direct action” climate policy the federal coalition also fails to address the crucial and obvious question of new coal.

We need direct action, but not of the kind that Abbott is proposing. We need to ban new coal plants and start implementing policies that will begin to wean our economy off the addiction to fossil fuels.

  • Steve

    Breaking news! Australia’s contribution to global greenhouse emissions to rise by 0.0007!

    12 proposed coal fired power stations to blame!

    On the global scene, would such a minute increase really make that much difference given that China, India, etal will be increasing their emissions by far more than that to raise their standard of living?

    I note that in the last 20 years our electricity generation has increased our emissions by 50%. The fact that our population will increase by 50% over the next 40 years would, I suggest, at least double our emissions again. Double that again by the time we get to 2100 when all the bad weather is supposed to be manifest. Add to this the burden imposed by electrically powered motor vehicles to displace oil and new desalination plants to cover us for supposed water shortages … and our demand for electricity will be astronomical compared to today … perhaps we need nuclear power to rescue us as I’m not convinced our salvation lies in wind turbines or solar.

    Your outrage over 12 proposed coal fired power stations, increasing our emissions by 0.0007, is another reminder to me that, on a global scale, what we do in Australia is irrelevant to CO2 induced climate and why our politicians get their knickers in a twist about it is a constant source of bemusement.

  • maria macdonald

    And the Qld Govt with Hancock and Waratah have plans to build what will be the largest coal mine in the world in the Galilee Basin complete with power plant and coal gasification plants – filthy stuff. This will poison acquifers and rivers which feed into the Great Artesian Basin inland and eventually the Great Barrier Reef on the other side and will happen in what is fragile desert uplands country.
    These mines will turn this west country into a giant dustbowl – remember the huge dust storms of last September? Keep up the good fight Greenpeace. Hope to see you in Mackay this year for the trial of your activists in the coal ports protests at Abbot Point and Hay Point. We need you! MM from Bowen.

  • @Steve,
    mate, you’re really having a bit each way, aren’t you ?

    On one hand, you argue “Australia’s contribution to global greenhouse emissions to rise by 0.0007!” due to a few more coal power stations.

    Yet, rather ironically, you point out “such a minute increase really make that much difference given that China, India, etal will be increasing their emissions by far more than that”

    Guess where China, India et al source a large portion of their coal ? Australia !! (Oh, thats right, you don’t count our “exported” coal in our emissions figures though, do you ?)

    Oh, & by the way, protect Jerrys Plains (from coal mining !)

  • Dk

    Is it sad to say I have seen a energy company do more education and action for greenhouse emissions than an environmental group.

    In Queensland, one of the energy distributors here has been running advertisements on televisions about air conditioning use and settings to reduce the impact on peak loading. They have also started providing information to the public on reducing peak loading and ways to reduce it.

    Greenpeace’s get informed “No New Coal in NSW” identifies energy efficiency improvements as a possible way to reduce the requirements for new power. The artical also states NSW does not require new power until 2017. Since NSW is importing power from QLD almost daily, I do not believe this is an accurate statement (its a interconnected grid!Power produced is not limited to NSW).

    Ultimately it comes down to supply and demand, if you want to stop future power plants, reduce the power required by consumers.

  • Steve

    Hi Craig

    I would suggest that China and other developing countries need the coal to fuel their natural and passionate desire to lift their population out of poverty. I’d hate to deny them the improvements to health and welfare that development provides. I’d say it would be inhuman, immoral and monumentally arrogant for me to do so.

    As for me having a ‘bit each way’, I understand the existance of poorer quality coal elsewhere in the world, containing many impurities such as sulphur, would mean that China and the others would simply purchase ‘dirtier’ coal and thus damage their environment and damage the Australian economy for no reduction in CO2 emissions.

    I wasn’t aware that other exporters of fossil fuels – Middle East and South American oil producers for example … have their exports counted as emissions. Is this a new accounting process endorsed by the UN?

    In any case I was commenting on electricity production, not exports, and my point that a 0.0007 increase in emissions is small cheese and really not something we in Australia need to get our knickers in a twist about.

    I see Obama supporting nuclear power as a partial solution in the USA … a solution that EU countries have endorsed for fifty years … no wonder those European industrial economies have a low per capita emissions rate … generating 15 % of their needs with 149 nuclear power reactors without the hysterical fear that we seem to have. China and India also appear to have aggressive nuclear power programs … perhaps if we are so concerned with our 1% contribution to global emissions we should adopt a similar stance … after all, we have plenty of uranium … which, if I understand your argument, those who oppose nuclear energy would say we should cease supplying other countries who have nuclear power programs and thus curtail their emission reduction programs … which would lead me to suggest they’d be having a ‘bit each way’ as well (as EU emissions would rise by 15%).

  • Dart.

    Our current <0.04% CO2 is the food source for plant life and many ocean micro-fauna. A doubling to 0.08% will perhaps not be quite as devastating as we think. The IPCC scientists and skeptics agree that this will cause about 1.1ºC of atmospheric warming which is within recent historical limits. Warmth puts heat into the oceans which evapourates water which causes precipitation. So, we are looking at a warmer, damper, CO2 richer atmosphere. The Poles will get more snow, the edges of deserts will grow plants much more readily, agricultural production will increase by around 40% from the same land, the tropical rainforests will likewise grow about 40% faster and more oxygen will be put into the air.
    I think the politicians know this so do not get too worried about a few power stations. The real danger is that we will pollute and permanently damage the world with our rampant economic growth. We cannot continue expanding population, industry and power production without compromising the natural world.
    What we need is concrete scientific data on all aspects of our planet which is open to public scrutiny, so we can make measured changes ahead of crisis point. When CRU , NASA-GISS and others are exposed fudeging data it undermines our cause and renders politicians less useful. The current polarisation of issues further undermines the ecolgical cause. We need to work with and not against the human race to protect our home.

  • If only there was a reliable bunch of videos to watch to build my own Wind turbine, I am certain that we could reduce our electricity costs. I think wind turbines and other forms of energy is not to far away into the future.

  • Jonas

    I think we should invest in solar -energy rather than uranium. Nuclear power is a risk and would you want to live near a nuclear power plant? Coal is also very filthy and I don’t think it is Australia who gains from it rather than rich mining compagnies. This is not a discussion about countries but about the profits of others.

  • Jane Nicholas

    Stupid country.