Aussie Gov’t under attack for saying there is 'moral case' for coal mines

Aussie Gov’t under attack for saying there is 'moral case' for coal mines

Stopping coal mining in Australia, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says, “would make not the blindest bit of difference to global emissions.”

Sixty-one prominent Australians, including scientists, rugby players and religious leaders, among others, have written to world leaders, urging them to halt construction of new coal mines when they meet in Paris for a climate summit next month.

Signatories of the letter, The Guardian reports, argue that Australia’s massive coal exports is largely responsible for environmental damage in places like China and India, where the coal is burnt to produce cheap energy.

However, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull brushed off the attacks, telling reporters that stopping coal mining in Australia “would make not the blindest bit of difference to global emissions.”

"If Australia stopped exporting coal, the countries to which we export it would simply buy it from somewhere else," he said, according to International Business Times.

Greg Evans, executive director of the Minerals Council of Australia, agrees, noting that calls for a global moratorium on coal mines ignore the scale of global demand for energy.

“The reality is that demand for coal remains strong, particularly in Southeast Asia,” he said in a statement, adding that he believes coal will remain “a key part of the global energy mix for many years to come.”

Moral case

Federal Resources Minister, Josh Frydenberg, when even further last week, by saying there was a "strong moral case" for Australia to export coal. He added the nation had a role in providing electricity to millions of impoverished people in nations like India.

He told ABC's Insiders program that G20 APEC energy ministers have shown him studies proving that over a billion people around the world don't have access to electricity:

"This means more than two billion people today are using wood and dung for their cooking.

"The World Health Organization says this leads to 4.3 million premature deaths – that's more people dying through those sort of inefficient forms of energy than malaria, HIV aids and tuberculosis combined."

But public figures, including the former head of the Reserve Bank and Climate Change Authority, Bernie Fraser, claim it is "nonsense" and "obscene" for the Federal Government to argue there is a "moral case" to open new coal mines.

"It's the vulnerable people around the world that are going to suffer the most, and have the greatest difficulty adjusting to global warming, even to a two-degree (Celsius) global warming, and a lot of those people are in developing countries, including countries like India," he said.

"It's a nonsense argument really and to sort of put a moral label to it is quite obscene really," he concluded.