The Minerals Council of Australia has slammed the Greens’ proposal to make it illegal to dig, burn or ship thermal coal from 2030, with individuals who break the rule to face up to seven years’ jail.
Greens MP Adam Bandt outlined the policy on Friday in Hobart, saying after a transition period to allow the country to switch to renewables, it will become a crime to use coal, “because coal kills”.
“I want to encourage those who will express concerns about the future of coal mining that they need to face the reality of where the world is going,” Mr Bandt said.
“Thermal coal is on the way out anyway. Our approach offers a structured, planning phase out rather than the chaos of the market.”
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Chief executive officer of the Minerals Council of Australia Tania Constable says the call by the Greens to make Australian thermal coal experts illegal needs to be categorically rejected.
“Australian coal has powered the industrialisation of Japan, Korea and China,” Ms Constable said.
“In doing so it has directly contributed to hundreds of millions of people being lifted out of poverty and improving the living standards for many more.
“Strong electricity demand is being driven by a combination of factors including significant population growth across most Asian regions, industrialisation and urbanisation and a move in policy direction away from nuclear power in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
“Suggesting that Australian thermal coal exports should be banned not only flies in the face of what the IEA [International Energy Agency] is projecting for our region, it also condemns billions of people across the Asian region and increasingly Africa to energy poverty.
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“The victims of this would be primarily women and children in developing countries.
“Suggestions that coal exports should be banned are reckless and insulting to tens of thousands of hard working Australians and their families.”
According to SBS, the policy puts in place an annual quota for coal exports, declining each year until it reaches zero after 2030.