Today the Australian Coal Association launched its $2.5 million advertising campaign to convince the Government and the good people of Australia that a) it cares about climate change and b) that it has a solution that will allow us to keep digging up coal and burning it without killing the planet.


But somehow, despite the gorgeous “new technology” shade of blue on the $1 million website ( and the PR spin machine working overtime, there was a slight credibility gap in what is being proposed.


Ralph Hillman, the ACA’s Executive Director, today said that Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) could deliver 20% emissions reductions by 2050, and that by 2017 they were anticipating the first commercial scale plant being operational.

That may well be the case, but if that is all that “clean coal” can deliver, then it’s clearly not going to be a solution to the climate crisis we are facing right now. And by the time the coal industry get their act together, the global community will probably have figured out a better, cleaner way to make energy, or it will likely be too late to keep temperatures low enough for a safe climate.


The coal industry would also like is to stop using the words “clean coal”. They’ve figured out that we, the Australian public, don’t buy it. Phew, well that’s a relief. They’d like us to think about calling it “New Generation Coal”, presumably as opposed to the “Old Generation Coal” that they are currently peddling around Australia and the world. Here at Greenpeace we are a little sad they didn’t try “Diet Coal” or “I can’t believe it’s not planet destroying coal”, but perhaps that didn’t run so well in the focus group testing!


The one thing the coal industry didn’t commit to was switching off or phasing out the “Old Generation Coal” that is causing dangerous climate change right now. In fact, between now and 2017, Australia and many other countries around the world, currently plan to build new coal-fired power stations that will keep releasing CO2 into the atmosphere. Factor in the predicted rise in energy consumption and population, and you can see where this is heading.


So, will the Australian Coal Association put their money where their mouth is?


Mr Hillman today acknowledged the need to drastically alter the Australian public’s view of coal. After extensive market research they have discovered that Australians understand coal is a major contributor to climate change. Worse still, Aussies are looking towards Government and industry “with increasing impatience” to address climate change.  So it’s good to know the Australian Coal Association has stepped-up to the challenge with a $2.5 million spin campaign!


The reality is that spin is about all they have to offer for the next 10 years, which is the timeframe in which they hope to have their first commercial scale project ready to run.


But we can’t wait for these emission reductions from coal to happen in 2017 and beyond. It will be too late. So if the ACA really want to be part of saving the planet, then perhaps they should at least support heavy investment in renewable energy and, importantly, support the retraining needs of the workers in their industry who are the real victims of an industry that has no place in our energy future.