For the UN climate summit in November in Glasgow to succeed it “must be the COP that consigns coal power to history”, Britain’s climate envoy Alok Sharma has repeatedly stressed. After all, a binding agreement on phasing out coal by 2030 is the main goal of both the Biden administration and UK government.
Today’s developments down under, however, demonstrate once again that their COP26 agenda is almost certain to fail as Australia has become the latest nation to reject the demands for an end to coal.
Australia vowed Thursday to keep mining coal for export and said global demand was rising, rejecting a study that warned nearly all its reserves must stay in the ground to address the climate crisis.
Researchers warned in a study published in the journal Nature this week that 89 percent of global coal reserves — and 95 percent of Australia’s share — must be left untouched.
Such restraint, they said, would still only offer a 50 percent chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels — the current global goal.
But Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Thursday Australia’s energy exports were needed to power developing countries, and predicted technology would enable them to be burned “in a much more climate-friendly way” in the future.
“We will keep mining the resources that we’re able to sell on the world market,” Morrison told a news conference when asked if he would put an “expiration date” on the coal mining industry.
“We obviously anticipate that over time world demand for these things may change.”
Under existing agreements, developing countries are able to use Australian resources “well into the future”, Morrison said.