Resources minister wants $250b coal lending facility

Australian Resources Minister Keith Pitt (coal lending)

Australia’s resources minister Keith Pitt has proposed setting up a government-run $250 billion lending facility for the country’s coal industry in return for supporting a net zero carbon emissions target for 2050, Reuters reported.

Resources minister Keith Pitt, a member of the junior coalition partner National Party, told the Australian Financial Review his idea was for the government to be the “lender of last resort” to the mining sector, with banks and insurers increasingly unwilling to fund and underwrite the fossil fuels industry.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has come under increasing pressure to adopt a zero emissions target, but has been stymied by opposition from the party’s junior partner. Pitt’s proposal is a first sign of what that support might cost.

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Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce told ABC Radio the loan facility proposal was not a policy of the National Party but was up for discussion.

“No matter what happens, we need to find a way to fund the resources sector and provide insurance,” Pitt said.

Pitt also said the agriculture and resources sector should be excluded from any sacrifice in terms of reaching net zero.

“If we want to look after 300,000 jobs, provide power to 70 per cent of homes, the Australian government will have to become the lender of last resort,” he said.

Pitt said last month coal will be a major contributor to Australia’s economy well beyond 2030 given growth in global demand, after United Nations special adviser Selwin Hart called on the country to phase out the fossil fuel