Quit Coal: Ending Australia’s thermal coal exports by 2030
Greens Deputy Leader and climate and energy spokesperson Adam Bandt MP has outlined a significant new election policy on coal when addressing a conference of the United Firefighters Union in Hobart today.
Highlighting the link between worsening bushfires and climate change, Mr Bandt has detailed how the Greens would phase out thermal coal exports by 2030.
The burning of coal is the biggest cause of global warming. Australia is the biggest coal exporter in the world and the second biggest exporter of thermal coal that is burnt in power stations to generate electricity.
The world’s scientists have said that the burning of coal must end by the middle of the century at the latest and that by 2030 at least two-thirds of the world’s power stations must close.
If we are to have any chance of halting and reversing global warming, most of Australia’s coal must stay in the ground.
The time has come for Australia to accept that the time of coal is over. Australia is moving to renewables and so is the rest of the world. There is no future in coal exports.
To reflect the urgency and reality of a constrained carbon world, The Greens are announcing an election policy to phase out and eventually criminalise the burning and export of Australian thermal coal by 2030.
Based on laws to regulate asbestos, Greens Deputy Leader and climate change and energy spokesperson Adam Bandt MP will introduce legislation to make it illegal under Commonwealth law to export thermal coal by January 1, 2030 with the exception of narrow exemptions for research and heritage purposes. Between now and 2030, quotas will be imposed on the export of coal so that the amount of coal exported reduces to zero by 2030.
The policy builds on the existing Greens policy of no new coal mines which would prevent, for example, the proposed giant Adani mine.
Before 2030 the auctioning of export permits by the Clean Energy Regulator will fund a Clean Energy Transition Fund to support the social and economic transition in coal communities in NSW and QLD.
Quotes attributable to Mr. Bandt:
“When coal exports are added to Australia’s domestic emissions, Australia is the sixth highest emitter in the world.”
“Australia’s coal exports produce over 1 billion tonnes of pollution a year, doubling our domestic emissions.
“Coal is the next asbestos and it is time we regulated it as such. It is toxic and dangerous. We need to stop exporting coal.”
“Australia could be a renewable energy superpower, exporting clean, cheap renewable energy instead of coal.”
“The Greens’ plan would see at Australia quit coal at home and abroad by 2030.”
“Funds raised from coal export permits during the phase-out period would be used to support Australia’s coal communities during the transition.”
In the years up to 2030, a declining amount of coal will be permitted for export each year. After 2030, it will be an offence to export coal.
The Commonwealth will issue tradable permits equal to the declining quota set out in legislation each year.
Each year, thermal coal exporters will be required to surrender permits equal to their annual coal exports. In the first year exporters will purchase permits from the Clean Energy Regulator at $1 a tonne equal to the previous year’s exports of each company, in subsequent years permits will be auctioned by the authority and the price will be set by the market with a floor price of $1.
Export companies will either need to lower their exports, secure enough permits in the auction and/or purchase from other companies that have a surplus. Over time the value of traded permits are expected to rise as the quota declines.
Existing mine licence and royalty obligations administered by states and territories’ will continue.
The Greens’ plan for an orderly phase out will provide certainty to industry, providing ample opportunity to invest capital into developing the infrastructure and expertise to export clean energy.
The Greens will establish a ‘Clean Energy Transition Fund’ to support the reskilling and redeployment of workers and the redirection of investment into the clean energy industry. Funds from the auction of tradable permits (up to $1 billion until 2030) will be allocated to the fund.
Australia exported 203 million tonnes of thermal coal in 17-18, with a value of $22.6 B. 80% of Australia’s thermal coal is exported.
The bill prohibits building new coal mines or expanding existing mines immediately. It also makes it an offence to burn coal for power generation after 2030.