Palaszczuk’s political problem: Can Queensland still be a coal state?

The Palaszczuk Government’s coal dilemma is growing with claims from an environmental group that CO2 emissions would double if all the mines in the planning stage were granted approval.

Mar 28, 2022, updated Mar 29, 2022
Coal is likely to play a key role in the upcoming election

Coal is likely to play a key role in the upcoming election

Activist group Lock the Gate said there were 34 coal projects in the approval system and they would produce a total 21 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, about double the current output.

But it’s not that simple. Coal mines currently producing have a limited life and will run out of coal as the resource is depleted and many of the 34 projects won’t find financing or won’t get the approval they want. Some also become uneconomic when prices fall, which will happen.

However, it highlights a dilemma for the Palaszczuk Government that will produce a Budget this year relying heavily on a massive amount of royalties from coal production.

But the industry is also highly charged politically in central and northern Queensland where jobs are the key. In the southeast debate on the industry’s future us more likely to be focussed on climate change and how that is increasing the vote of the Greens.

The industry is also in a boom and generating huge dividends for shareholders.

The LtG report found that the additional scope one and scope two emissions from the planned coal projects would add more than 855 million tonnes, more than 1.5 times Australia’s total emissions in 2019.

He said if Queensland wanted to meet its emissions target of a 30 per cent reduction by 2030, it would need to slash 52 million tonnes.

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“There is a clear risk that, given the limited avenues for avoiding coal mine emissions and current lack of any reduction obligations on mine proponents under Queensland law, this would result in other sectors shouldering the burden of the coal industry’s pollution as the State seeks to achieve reduction targets,” the report said.

He said there were ways for mines to reduce their emissions but none of these had been widely adopted. There was also no enforceable obligations for coal producers to reduce their emissions.




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