2017 ends with rush of good news for No New Coal Mines

in Medium

A world tackling climate change needs fewer coal mines, not more. Australian governments still refuse to put a moratorium on new coal mines, and our emissions are climbing.

However, we’re going into 2018 with a sense of optimism, because 2017 is ending with a rush of good news for #nonewcoalmines.

Here are some highlights we wanted to share with you —

In Australia’s export coal industry >

  • Australia’s biggest and most controversial proposal, the Adani coal mine, is facing a string of setbacks.
  • Queensland Premier Palaszczuk has vetoed a $1 billion proposed loan subsidy from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF), a decision with wide public support and good economic justification.
  • Major Chinese banks — including the two biggest commercial banks in the world — announced they were not and would not consider funding Adani’s mine. It came days after an Adani director was reported to have boasted the NAIF loan wasn’t needed because Chinese companies would fund it.
  • Major mining services company Downer EDI has walked away from three years or negotiations about providing services to the project. The decision, apparently, was “mutually agreed”.
  • In NSW, the proposed Rocky Hill mine near Gloucester has been knocked back by the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC).
  • National Australia Bank has announced it “will no longer finance new thermal coal mining projects.” Earlier in 2017 Westpac announced it would not fund new coal basins or coal of quality below the Newcastle benchmark — which would rule out the Adani mine.
  • The new Chair of the operators of the Port of Newcastle, the world’s biggest coal port, has outlined “an urgent need to diversify the Hunter economy and the port’s business.”
  • Earlier in the year, the owners of the Port of Newcastle commissioned modelling from Wood MacKenzie, which showed subsidised expansion of new coal supply would suppress coal prices and threaten coal profits and jobs in other basins.

In coal lobbying >

  • In 2017, the Minerals Council of Australia went from getting a lump of coal into the House of Representatives and helping derail a Clean Energy Target, to sacking its CEO and losing numerous member companies. MCA’s coal advocacy was out of all proportion with its diverse membership and desire of some members like BHP to be ‘climate leaders’. BHP will be announcing soon if they will leave the MCA.

In domestic energy >

  • AGL stared down pressure from the Prime Minister to keep the aging Liddell coal power plant open another 5 years, instead announcing a mixture of storage, renewables and gas. Meanwhile, half of Liddell’s boilers are out of action.
  • Origin announced a 50% cut in emissions 2030 — a target they’ll reach by shutting down an aging coal plant on schedule, yet is still far more ambitious than government policy.
  • In a state now without coal, Tesla’s new world’s-largest South Australian battery is showing the market what it can do.
  • And The Australia Institute released research showing fossil fuels fail during heatwaves. During the February 2017 heatwave across south eastern Australia, 14% of fossil generating capacity (3,600 MW) failed during critical peak demand periods in South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland as a result of faults largely related to the heat.

Internationally >

  • Twenty countries — including France, UK, Canada, New Zealand — announced the international Powering Past Coal Alliance, pledging to phase out coal power in their domestic power supply by 2030.
  • ING announced that by 2025 will stop lending to any energy company that uses coal for more than 5% of its energy, while French insurer AXA will stop insuring coal and tar sands and divest from a further Euro 3 billion of coal and tar sands. The threshold they’re using means they will divest from large diversified miners like BHP.
  • The World Bank already won’t fund coal, but has now announced it will no longer fund oil or gas extraction projects.
  • The International Energy Agency’s World Energy Update 2017 shows full energy access, security and affordability can be combined with success under the Paris Agreement. Crucially, “coal demand goes into an immediate decline”, replaced by energy efficiency and low carbon energy.

Don’t get us wrong. Emissions are high and edged up this year, when they need to come down, fast.

But there are promising signs and no good reasons to delay

The sooner we stop building new coal mines, the better.

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