Australia is belatedly waking up to the implications of the carbon budget, although the concept has been around for years. It simply says that if the increase in global temperature resulting from human carbon emissions is to be contained to a level which will prevent dangerous climate change, the world, henceforth, can only afford to emit a limited amount of greenhouse gases.

According to the latest science, that limit will be exceeded if we burn more than 20 per cent of the world’s proven coal, oil and gas reserves. This is confirmed in recent reports from the International Energy Agency and Australia’s Climate Commission.

At current emission rates, the world budget runs out in 20 years, and the Australian budget, as one of the highest per capita carbon emitters, runs out in five years. Major coal companies, as members the IEA’s Energy Business Council , are well aware of these implications.

The carbon budget is the basis for current campaigns, led by organisations such as Greenpeace and Bill McKibben’s 350.org, to ensure that budget is not exceeded, in part by stopping the expansion of Australian coal exports,

Recently, the CEO of the Australian Coal Association, Dr Nikki Willliams, hit out at such “eco-activists” who are “ideologically driven to destroy Australia’s coal industry but have no technically and commercially reliable and affordable solution to global climate change,” going on to justify the continued expansion of the industry.

Subsequently, commenting on the Climate Commission’s latest report, Minerals Council CEO, Mitch Hooke, opined that the report, in “calling for an end to the Australian coal industry crosses the line from scientific analysis into environmental campaigning.”

Activists play a vital role in alerting society to critical issues which the establishment may wish to deliberately avoid. But in addition to activists, many more Australians are concerned about the need for serious action to address climate change. Thus the mining industry’s arguments warrant a wide response.

Any balanced risk assessment of the latest climate science and the evidence of warming around the world, would accept that events are accelerating far faster than anticipated. There is now a high risk that our inaction today is locking in catastrophic outcomes; the challenge is far greater and more urgent than is acknowledged officially.

Evidence of climate change and accelerating extreme weather suggests that the world is close to passing climatic tipping points in the Arctic, the Antarctic and elsewhere. Dr Williams facetiously dismissed such concerns: “--- the last time I (looked), the Arctic was still there --- “.  She might have added that the Arctic is warming 3-4 times faster than the global average and that 80 per cent of the Arctic sea ice volume in summer has been lost since 1979, half of it in the last seven years. 

On current trends, the Arctic will probably be sea ice-free in summer by 2015 and in winter by 2030. The Greenland ice sheet melt appears to be accelerating exponentially, which if confirmed, may lead to a five metre sea level increase this century.  

The West Antarctic ice sheet is warming faster than anywhere else on earth. None of this was supposed to happen until post-2100.

These changes may seem remote from Australia, but they have enormous impact on the global climate system, on sea level rise, and thus impact directly upon us.

Science has clearly established human carbon emissions as a prime cause. Despite years of negotiations, nothing has been done to reduce emissions, which are accelerating in line with worst-case scenarios. Despite Mitch Hooke’s boosterism, ‘official’ solutions, such as carbon capture and storage, and clean coal technology, are not working and even if they did, it would require decades for them to take effect, time we no longer have.

Current climate policies, including our own Clean Energy Future package, if fully implemented, will result in 4-6 degrees Celsius mean warming relative to pre-industrial conditions, with the Arctic experiencing 9-12 degrees Celsius regional warming – way beyond the official target of 2 degrees Celsius – worsening an already very dangerous situation.

This would result in a world of one billion people, not the present seven billion, as death and destruction ensue from a combination of heat stress, escalating extreme weather disasters, sea level rise, disease, food and water scarcity with consequent social disorder and conflict. Australia will be severely affected, probably with major population decline, unless emission reductions are accelerated.

Yet notwithstanding the 20 per cent limit on burning the world’s proven fossil-fuel reserves if catastrophic climate change is to be avoided, by 2025, the Australian coal industry is planning to more than double coal exports, and the gas industry to quadruple gas exports, which will make us one of the top five global emitters, exports included.

The Chinese, Indians and other trade partners are in the process of rapidly abandoning a high carbon future.  If our current expansion policies are implemented, it will leave Australia with a stack of stranded assets in mines, ports and railways within a decade, wasting funds which should be spent developing zero-carbon solutions.   

This is part one of a two-part analysis. Part two will be published on Monday morning.

Ian Dunlop is a former an international oil, gas and coal industry executive.  He chaired the Australian Coal Association in 1987-88, chaired the Australian Greenhouse Office Experts Group on Emissions Trading from 1998-2000 and was CEO of the Australian Institute of Company Directors from 1997-2001.

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Great article, but I always wonder about the human versus environmental tradeoff. Sure it's undeniable that lowering carbon emissions is better for the world in many ways (even if you don't believe in global warming), but what are the costs of abandoning coal? Coal and oil are some of the cheapest and most practical energy sources, hence their popularity. In Australia we can (arguably) afford to switch to nuclear and renewables etc, but what about poor people in remote areas of developing countries? Either spend millions on a solar grid, or go without electricity indefinitely? And in the mean time, be condemned to hardship as you cannot have access to modern healthcare, refrigeration, communication etc? How much of that 20% of fossil fuels is for aviation fuel, plastics, steelmaking etc that cannot be substituted by nuclear and renewables?

Point taken. However, ff you chose to use fossil fuels then those people will face all of those problems plus a whole lot of even worse problems!

Remember also that poor people in remote areas of developing countries produce very little greenhouse gas, and you are talking about building new power stations which can be built at lower cost than a coal power station anyway.

On your question re percentage use in aviation fuel, plastics etc, if you remove the huge emitters like coal for electricity production (and so long as I can switch on the light and the cost is reasonable do I care where electrictiy comes from?) then the rest is not so significant any more and we can chose what fuel source we use.

Drew

"but what about poor people in remote areas of developing countries".

The archetypal really poor often don't have electricity at all, of course. Or not much. Because they can't afford it, rather than there being no supply which would follow if there was a market.

I recall years ago in northern Vietnam sitting looking at the beautiful view across the valley to the ranges of Cuc Phuong National Park. A view sullied (to our eyes) by high voltage transmission lines down the valley, off to Hanoi, industrial plants etc.

The house I was in had lights from a micro-hydro plant on a stream on the the hill behind, but others in the village did not have any electricity, although a huge amount was passing less than 1 km away.

Why? They simply couldn't afford it in an area of sparse population and low income. And these people weren't the poorest of the poor in the district either.

And I am in VN now working on a related field. There is little denial here, from farmers up to the central government. That is a First World Problem, as they say.

A great article about the reality of shutting down an unsustainable industry. If anyone is in any doubt about how CO2 emission affect our atmosphere have a play with this interactive greenhouse gas simulator developed by PHet at the University Of Colorado http://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/greenhouse

We certainly do need to move away from using coal.

Alternatives exist today, for example hydro and nuclear power, for energy generation, and advances in wind power and solar coupled with an extensive grid give hope that these can be (though not yet) serious alternatives to fossil fuels.

But, approximately 44% of the coal we export, by volume, is not for energy generation - it is for steel making.

See: http://www.dfat.gov.au/publications/stats-pubs/australias-coal-and-iron-...

And we get a better price for this coal.

As far as I know, there is no practical alternative, as yet, for metallurgical coal for steel making.

I think it is important that articles such as this need to highlight that a very large percentage of Australian coal is not used to make electricity. Further it should indicate the sad truth, that as yet, alternatives are not feasible.

Climate scientist i am not, though Dunlop's view is entirely consistent with my trusted view ever since trying to wade through IPCC reports and all the different blogs on the subject. I notice the contrarians, they have their two-cents worth ready to go first whenever an article appears which is a bit scary for them.

The sad truth leaves about 60% of coal export which is headed for generators overseas. We only use a little bit for ourselves. So, as a very first step, until we can be assured that CCS actually works economically, there should be NO thermal coal exported from this country regardless of whether other coal exporters export to make up the lost market or not. We should be the leaders of reducing emissions.

Australia will take another financial body blow when coal is phased out. Whilst we will have to change to gas turbine generated power for the short term this will also be another body blow because our wonderful world class gas deposits have been flogged off (the national mentality) to overseas investors who control and who will make money out of our natural resources.

For those addicted to the coal heroine addiction the graph on the following link may cure this ailment:

http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence

Well done Australia. One dumb political decision after another and as the game continues ordinary Australians are going to suffer because of the dumb and ongoing decisions from both sides of politics which now have us in a death spiral. But fear not we still have prime agricultural farmland for sale to foreign state owned companies. She'll be right Fred.......lets flog off the 79% we have not already sold.....but we won't tell the public about it until its gone.

So who are the idiots really?

when do we stop listening to scaremongers like this. The UK Met Office among others tell us that the climate has not warmed at all since 1997. The current CO2 in the atmosphere is 400ppm an extremely low level, made up by Al Gore to be a catastrophic number.
Lets go green like Europe where, as expected, extreme green policies are sending them broke and manufacturing is deserting on mass to more friendly, and cheaper ,energy countries.
Lets practice more green policies like Tasmania and we can eventually all be unemployed as they lead the way and show us how to do it.
The CO2 scam is no more than a GLOBAL TAX MONEYMAKING SCHEME being pushed by people who hope to get rich off our collective guilt for a problem that's entirleyfabricated and fictional.

From the linked article it would appear electric arc furnaces are for recycling scrap steel. Also, coking coal adds carbon to the iron which is what makes it steel.

What a dreary, absurd, ridiculous piece of trash. Doomsday all over again!
This character blames it all on people, consumption, and now, coal!
He's an idiot!
I'm a top executive in an oil and gas company, and mining development, and you don't hear me blubbering along like this guy does.

Pat and Geoff.

I keep saying this because it ends to shut your lot up. For every body else - I'm sorry but it's an important message...

Please note that there is not a single peak body on this planet that doubts AGW or the need to act. Not a one. Not also, that this hold true regardless of the politics of their funders. It holds regardless of whether their funders are even democratic. Even the Saudis and the UAE, undemocratic and almost entirely reliant on fossil fuel income, support the science on AGW. Now, why would they do that f the science was so obviously flawed as your say?

Note also - that this peak body consensus holds regardless of there being a spectacular business case to disprove AGW. There are billions on the table for anybody who can provide evidence that will lead to policy action on AGW to be shut down. The Australian coal industry - the biggest coal exporter industry in the world, is suffering massive write-downs right now, due to Chinese carbon policy and the current shift to more expensive, but cleaner gas, nuke and wind.

This consensus holds quite in spite to the fact that, politically most governments would love the problem to go away. Neither side sees more than a few hippie votes in carbon; putting up energy prices is not an election winning policy for anyone.

The consensus not only crosses politics and cultures, it also crosses scientific thinking with the worlds peak geological bodies supporting it.

So lets be clear - all the above bodies have formally signed statements of consensus, none have put out dissenting statement. None.

By peak bodies I mean the national academies and peak subject matter experts such as NASA, JAXA, ESA, Royal Society, NOAA, CSIRO, WMO ect. People who own satellites, ships and publish peer reviewed science ... So not lobby groups, a Brazillian TV network weather unit, unheard of one web-page scientifically unrelated Russian groups, singular scientists or small collectives who have never released peer reviewed research.

Just though you might like a reality check. You are quantifiably (and the skeptic crowd in general), are flat earthers.

BTW - I'm a capitalist and believer in the free market and i believe the green movement is actually half the problem as they have politicised the debate and mobilised the bark mad right in response.

Why is it that even the most rabid skeptics are shut down by this point? I've been making it for years - and while they used to claim a conspiracy, I think they are beginning to see the lunacy of that suggestion. Currently you occasionally get the group think argument - but that's a hard case to make when it crosses, politics, cultures and scientific discipline.

Why is that so many people are led to believe that there is a significant debate going on in science, but when this is pointed out they are quite surprised and generally ask, why is this point not made more frequently. They also ask why doesn't the media make this known ... Why indeed.

The peak body consensus is a far more compelling argument than the easily assailable "97-98% of Scientists Agree" argument.

It also saves you the pain of reiterating the same points you been making for 10 years and simply direct the skeptics to NASA. Just get NASA or any other peak bodies to change their mind, and your on.... It should be that hard, given how so obviously flawed the science is and how stupid and corrupt the scientists must be .....

"I'm a top executive in an oil and gas company, and mining development".

And that says it all.

Quite clearly Pat you demonstrate the views of the mining industry and its ALL ABOUT ME, My SALARY and MY FUTURE and lets call reality "scare mongering" so that average Australians will not accept the science.

The information AND THE GRAPH found on the following link says it all:

http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence

This is from NASA (maybe you have no idea of who Nasa is) so you cannot get away with debunking the report as it has been meticulously complied. So spare us your rhetoric about scare mongering. You may be happy to sell future generations down the drain. I am not.

We elect governments, and, generally, our elected politicians try to satisfy the views of the majority.

Whilst there is a lot of verbiage to distinguish the usual two choices available in most first-world democracies, there is nowhere near as much difference as the verbiage suggests.

Take climate change as an example. It is hard to realise from the profiles and statements of some Coalition parliamentarians, that most actually accept the science, and most believe that a "price-based mechanism" to limit its consumption is the best way to do it. Whether you call this price mechanism an ETS, an ETS with a fixed price, or a "tax", it is still a "tax".

After the september landslide, there will be a struggle within the Coalition over this issue, but that struggle will be one-sided. The Prime Minister can, and will, decide who is in Cabinet - that gives him enormous power - if having just won a landslide victory was not enough.

What will be implemented, or more probably, not be implemented, though, will be accepted by the majority of people.

As much as I would like to think that I am less an idiot than someone else, I baulk at claiming that the majority of Australians are idiots.

Yet, many idiotic things seem to be done, nonetheless, to satisfy the views of the majority.

Look at the ridiculous amount of money we use to prevent a few thousand refugees coming into the country, whilst happily allowing an extra 20 times as many to arrive on 457 visas.

Perception is everything - and the current government, and the next, will be happily responding to our collective perceptions.

Whilst I applaud your enthusiasm David you fail to understand the relationship between government and business, especially between the coalition and business. Big business effectively owns the coalition because it contributes into the re-election coffers of the coalition. Don't ever expect that big business does this because it is a kind benefactor. It isn't. And when elected it is pay back time. If you don't believe this then look at the published first three things Abbott has PROMISED:

1. "Give back the mining tax" - for the benefit of Australia's richest group of people. Nothing to do with mining but everything to do with maintaining the wealth of certain individuals.
2. "Repeal the carbon tax" - the dirty coal mining industry will love it. Are you surprised? Given that most other nations are well down the road (China the latest) of some scheme or other on carbon this would make Australia a recalcitrant nation and it will come back to bite average Australians in the long run.
3. "Lower company tax rates" - once again a payback for the wealthy who already enjoy low tax rates and a host of deductions which average Australians are unable to utilise because they do not earn enough. And now more!

And in case you are not convinced I ask the question as to who is going to make up the difference so that huge amounts of money can be transferred into the bank accounts of the mega wealthy? You guessed it my friend....you and I and the rest of battling Australians. Not Pat the mining executive above. He will be one of the benefactors.

Don't be taken in. What is happening is a scam from those with the most to lose, big business.

Some kinds of steel are made using electric arc furnaces - that is true. To get the temperatures involved it is necessary, but this is extremely expensive.

What I find interesting is that solar concentrators seem to be only used for rather modest electricity production. The temperatures that they can achieve would make them ideal, I would have thought, for converting ore into copper, steel, even aluminium?

Who knows - I am an electronics engineer, not a metallurgist :-(

David,

An EAF actually heats the entire mass of steel via induction - the first problem with solar is that you can only heat via the surface - ie where the beam of light makes contact. This would dramatically reduce heat transfer and slow down production. The next problem is a common solar problem. An EAF might draw say 10 MW of electricity. To get 10 MW thermal of solar - is very very difficult, requires a stupendous amount of space and it's only avaible 20% of the time and at full intensity 3-5% of the time ......

Unfortunate - saving the planet is going the be that easy.

In many cases, in many key technologies like power generation where are already sailing close to maximum theoretical efficiency (especially say in the case of combined cycle electricity generation) - so technology is not going to leap ahead in the way that computer technology has, (where not close the limits set by the laws of physics there).

We're not even far off the maximum theoretical efficiency of solar ether, (as dictated by a concept known s exergy - or the availability of energy).

Pat:

Being some kind of business executive does not automatically disqualify you from being an idiot.

I have been in senior management meetings where the most idiotic suggestions have not only been made, but then accepted.

Worse, these same management teams have totally ignored the fact that they were capable of making bad decisions, when the bad decisions blew up in their face.

I saw a robotic facility that made telephone connectors at 1million per annum being sent to NZ because in the Sydney facility the manager had over-loaded the costings onto this product line to favour his pet line that was not so profitable.

When the robots got to NZ less one damaged en-route, the bean counters realised the error (that many of us knew and had claimed), so they shipped the robots back to Sydney.

Another robot was destroyed en-route.

Then, later, some brilliant young 30-something sold the management on the idea of selling the business - he raised a whole $1 million.

They were selling these things for around $5, and they cost about $0.50c in parts, and almost no labour. Do the math!

So Pat, I am not impressed that you are some "business executive".

what a lovely beautiful article, What perfect unbiased prose, What generosity of spirit regarding the best interests of the world and all people, plant life and animals on the planet. Makes me want to smoke another and flit from planet to planet. Maybe not though, there is a good chance that in the very near future we will probably find out that C02 is not the gas causing climate change, good luck to Ian Dunlop crying at the Coal Face when he finds out.

Alan.

I once worked in a room where there were 2 smokers. These guys had the same sort of belief as you appear to have, that it was their right to smoke in this room and that if anybody didn't like it they should leave.

In case you haven't noticed we all reside on the same planet. If you believe that you have rights which will in time cause the planet to become uninhabitable then I suggest that, just like the smokers above YOU stop or YOU leave. It is the ultimate arrogance to state that you'll do as you like when future generations deserve their 5 minutes of sun shine as well. I can see your stereotype: old, set in ways, well to do. Right?

Hello Ian,

Thanks for your article.

Given your previous positions, perhaps you have undergone some sort of 'religious conversion' and now seek to 'atone for your sins'??

Unfortunately, a Resume, is not equal to credibility.

The majority of the discussion in this piece, is totally irrelevant.

What you advocate is the limitation of supply of Australian coal.

What you do not demonstrate, is that this limitation will in any way limit the aggregate supply of coal globally.

Further to that, whilst you make grandiose statements about 'The Chinese, Indians and other trade partners are in the process of rapidly abandoning a high carbon future.'.. the specific evidence is neither referred to, nor if it was, would you be able to back it up.

Coal fired power plants have a lifespan of up to 50 years.

There are approximately 620 coal fired power stations in China, of which, >70% have been built within the last 5 - 10 years.

Unless they are shut down, these power stations will require coal.

Full stop.

Australia can either supply the coal, or it WILL be supplied by others.

Full stop.

It is demand which must be limited, in order to limit emissions. It precedes supply.

Those that burn the coal, must be incentivised, to NOT burn the coal.

This paragraph is particularly misleading and deceptive:

'Yet notwithstanding the 20 per cent limit on burning the world’s proven fossil-fuel reserves if catastrophic climate change is to be avoided, by 2025, the Australian coal industry is planning to more than double coal exports, and the gas industry to quadruple gas exports, which will make us one of the top five global emitters, exports included.'

As you would well know, carbon accounting occurs at 'the point of emission'.

'Exports included' malisciously misrepresents the facts.

Australia are not liable for the export emissions, because we do not do the emitting.

Lumping exports, with our actual domestic emissions, combines two separate and disparate 'units of measure'... they don't go together... like wax and water.

If you wanted to give that example, you would have to EXCLUDE the majority of domestic emissions (cars, trucks, aeroplanes), and account for those in the oil refining or oil producing countries, in order to be CONSISTENT.

To sum it up, attempts to target Australian coal industry are misguided, will not be effective from an emissions point of view, unless accompanied by supply side measures, and will rob Australians of wealth which should flow to them, from the efficient development of its natural resources.

I have reading a few articles about the Chinese cleaning up their act lately but do not know a heap about it. They are muted to have a Carbon trading Scheme. Whilst you are correct about the Chinese appetite for coal the real worry is growing affluence in China which will exacerbate the problem of carbon and pollution. As I have stated for some with DEAF EARS IN THE MEDIA NOT LISTENING IT IS POPULATION GROWTH WHICH IS THE MAIN OFFENDER. The more people there are on the planet the more carbon, pollution and more. But of course big business wants its market and population growth is permanently off the agenda. So much for the independent press.

Rambotrader,

You are obviously passionate about this.

I'm sure that you will appreciate the irony in the following two observations:

- China is facing a 'demographic cliff', partially as a consequence of its one child policy, with a very rapidly aging population. To the extent that you are right about the relationship between population and emissions... in China.. in the medium term... due to population decline.. emissions will decline; and

- Due to shale gas revolution in USA, its coal consumption has been dramatically reduced, which in turn has US coal looking for an export market... it is this 'surplus supply' which has dropped the price of thermal coal used in power generation, and which consequently has made some high cost Australian operations uneconomic...

Nothing to do with 'global action on climate change'... just an indirect consequence of nature working... and markets working...

Something to think about.

Like a lot of the comments from more balanced input, I'm very sceptical of his conversion, from the nodus try that he apparently made most of his living from. I'm a chemical engineer and yet to be convinced Australia should shoot itself in the foot by doing what this babbles on about! Given we live with 99-100% secure electrical supply (except when ERGON sends a maintenance supply disruption notice), and guys like this armchair expert, GETUP, GREEN-PEACE & WOTIF, have not personally turned themselves off the Australian Electricity grid which is 80% coal supplied and want to deny upwards of 50% of India and China our substitute clean (lowest Sulphur, Ash & Particulates!) export coal from the Galilee & Bowen basins and deny 20% of Queens-landers their living! What an armchair hypocrite!

From "an armchair hypocrite":

http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence

The facts are the facts. Your argument is the same as the unregulated and unlimited immigration argument which is the politically correct are running in this country and it is a matter of working out what is good for future generations in this country. This is not occurring and we have self interest groups and brain dead people who are in position of power making calls which they will not be around to see. What is really sad is that the do gooders and the do nothing because I like it like it is brigade have no empathy with their descendants. Anybody who did and who had the ability to stand back and take a long hard look would not talk rhetoric over positive action. I for one vote for future Australians and leave recalcitrant citizens to vote for themselves, something they seem to do quite well.

Like a lot of the comments from more balanced input, I'm very sceptical of his conversion, from the nodus try that he apparently made most of his living from. I'm a chemical engineer and yet to be convinced Australia should shoot itself in the foot by doing what this babbles on about! Given we live with 99-100% secure electrical supply (except when ERGON sends a maintenance supply disruption notice), and guys like this armchair expert, GETUP, GREEN-PEACE & WOTIF, have not personally turned themselves off the Australian Electricity grid which is 80% coal supplied and want to deny upwards of 50% of India and China our substitute clean (lowest Sulphur, Ash & Particulates!) export coal from the Galilee & Bowen basins and deny 20% of Queens-landers their living! What an armchair hypocrite!

John W Barnes (meant to include name before!).

Like a lot of the comments from more balanced input, I'm very sceptical of his conversion, from the nodus try that he apparently made most of his living from. I'm a chemical engineer and yet to be convinced Australia should shoot itself in the foot by doing what this babbles on about! Given we live with 99-100% secure electrical supply (except when ERGON sends a maintenance supply disruption notice), and guys like this armchair expert, GETUP, GREEN-PEACE & WOTIF, have not personally turned themselves off the Australian Electricity grid which is 80% coal supplied and want to deny upwards of 50% of India and China our substitute clean (lowest Sulphur, Ash & Particulates!) export coal from the Galilee & Bowen basins and deny 20% of Queens-landers their living! What an armchair hypocrite!

John W Barnes (meant to include name before!).

John,
A secure electricity supply doesn't help if you are dead. Ian Dunlop is just reporting what the experts are saying. India and China are taking action, we just sit there and hope that things won't change ... well they are changing.... even in parts of Australia. For example South Australia gets close to one third of its energy from renewables now.
How scary is it when Alaska is hotter than Miami, with temperatures above 30C in June...http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/all-time-heat-records-broken-in-alaska-9.... This has to have implications for sea level rise.

Some interesting discussion around Ian's paper ranging over the full range from insightful to idiotic. If only carbon dioxide would change its physical characteristics we could dream about climate change as a non-event. In view of the usefulness of coal in steel making and the difficulty of replacing coal in such uses with biological carbon sources, it only makes it clearer that energy production has to rapidly move away from combustion of fossil fuels in the developed world. It would be nice to give the earth and its poorer inhabitants the chance to escape poverty by leaving them with a carbon budget commensurate with our own past use. But as Ian highlights, the earth isn't going to be co-operative. The earthlings who died in tornadoes, fire and flood in 2012 remind us that burning fossils fuels energises the atmosphere and is a threat to human life. But perhaps we can ignore that. Perhaps we won't do anything much until Australia has no useful beaches because they will be under-water!

Your last sentence sadly describes how the business funded and owned coalition operate. "Climate change crap" believer Tony Abbott is the prime example and the defender of the stone age.

You seem to spend a fair bit of time on the rights of the third world to pollute because this is how the first world got on. A bit like saying that taxpayers (today) should be able to use the Bottom of the Harbour tax avoidance scheme because others did in the past. A real dumb view of the world, but certainly understandable from a third world point of view.

The only position we can all take is to look at where we are rapidly heading as a world. Whilst the rich have almost always got their way it is about time where the demands from this section of society were refused when these demands work against the most important need of the human race: SURVIVAL. Whilst I read the denial theories above the 2 billion extra people on an already fast modernising planet tells a compelling tale which cannot be ignored, at least only by the ignorant and self interest groups. We all need to look at the graph on the link below to see where we have come in the past 60 years and if this does not send a chill up and down one's spine then moron status needs to be assigned:

http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence

Rather than wallow in the emissions please direct your attention and dollars to the available technologies which permit combustion of coal and natural gas (70% of coal emissions) with nil emissions and nil use of water. See "www.docscipark.com.au".
These are carrot technologies as they produce 5.19 MWh of electrical power per tonne of coal for less that $30 per MWh and no emissions. Eliminates 60% of coal demand up front.
They are supported by Harvard and Stanford Universities.
New ocean technology, currently being tested, if the funds allow, will produce base load power 24/365 at much less than $30 per MWh and this source can produce 2,500 times current global power demand. Future looks great, given the dollars, unless the wobble of the earth produces another global cooling (predicted), but we know how to generate trapped heat.
John Martin

Well spoken John but don't expect too much support from some of the self interest posters on this forum.

From John W Barnes.
Armchair hypocrites generally idealists who don't understand that the electronic devices and hot lattes that come largely from coal produced electricity yet don't turn themselves off from the grid to reduce the CO2! And who want to deny India and China using our cleaner coal! Has Rambo & Ian Dunlop caught up with the latest UN Climate Change leaked reports showing nothing like the knee jerk reactions this ex Oil & Gas guy is peddling? The 2007 report has been updated with the leaked 2013 draft to show Temp increases reducing form 0.8 to now 0.5 over the last decades to actually reducing since 1997-2012, despite the CO2 increases.

These big business interests & free markets Rambo(trader?), derides, have been responsible for lifting people out of poverty world wide (and yes they must be held accountable for sustainable environmental policies), but please don't over react by proposing shutting down of Australian Clean Coal Exports and closing our coal (fired Electricity) mines & quality of life without reading the cautious tone coming out in the most recent UN drafts per;

http://stopgreensuicide.com/SummaryForPolicymakers_WG1AR5-SPM_FOD_Final.pdf.

If your are still serious then let every one know you are not using 80% coal fired Australian Electricity and you are on your own 100% renewables on the web communication for credibility, like I'm sure the like minded GREENPEACE, GETUP, WOTIF and Local Greens senators are doing - yeah like!!??

John W Barnes

Great article and sobering.
To Brian, Geoff and Pat and all the other climate science illiterates out there, I challenge you to nominate ONE national or international scientific body (not individual scientists) that supports your crazy views. Of course you will not respond because there are none.
Harsh but yes the coal industry has to be slowly shut down in Australia and around the world. If we progressively roll out renewable it can be done. It is not scaremongering - it is reality. Deniers have a psychological problem - they cannot accept a worldview that does not suit them so they deny it. Strange but true. Pity that many of the politicians in our next Government suffer from it, but over time they will be shown up in their ignorance and swept away as pressure to make real changes grows.

from Don Aitkin, trying not to be Anonymous, which seems to be what happens if you don't put your name first.

Wow! What a lot of comments. And such moral fervour. And so many confident statements in the article that have no references or source. I can hardly wait for part II.

When will the alarmists realise that the Climate Change scare campaign is lost? There has been no rise in global temperature since 1998 and, by some reports, there has been a significant rise in CO2 levels during that time. How much of that rise is a result of man-made CO2 does not really matter. In any case the burning of coal has become so efficient that there is no pollution emitted and the ash is buried in the form of concrete. The steam belching out of the cooling towers is deceitfully misrepresented as CO2 pollution. Even the IPCC is running out of steam.

No. That didn't work. Would the moderator please advise me on how to stop being 'Anonymous'!

Doug Gaze, Your argument is perfectly summed up. If anyone would like to be inspired by some real action in energy policy checkout this speech at the Vienna Energy Forum in 2011 by Arnold Schwarzenegger talking about the reforms he introduced as governor of California. Skip first four minutes as he speaks German for a bit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9uBJnCnhC4

John Goldsworthy, that is simply false.If you are so confident of your position, name one national or international scientific body that supports your view. If you can't then it demonstrates that you have fixed views with you will not change because the reality does not suit your world view. Your particular idea that warming has not occurred since 1988 has been thoroughly debunked so you obviously don't follow the science at all.

John G is right, read the latest UN Climate Change reports!

From 0.8 Deg C rise from 1901, then to 0.5 for last 3 decades then to a drop since 1998!!

Try reading the Australian too instead of the other failing newspapers and the biased ABC!

As a chemical engineer and believer in free markets, I'm unconvinced in shutting down Aus Coal!

John W Barnes

Anonymous, Fri, 2013-06-21 16:02 , for goodness sake, read the science ! it is patently false and deceitful to say global warming has stopped. Name a scientific body that says it has !

Not hard to tell which side of politics you support Mr Barnes !

Now that you have read my name right Doug, have you read the latest UN report (as you want the report name), on the reducing global temp at the same time as CO2 is dramatically increasing. The overall rate of increase was dropping with increased CO2 (against all my heat transfer training!).

I understand the science being a Chemical Engineer, but I'm not convinced of all the scaremongering from guys like this. John G is right, be careful, instead of prattling the same "name one report" line, when you have still not read the latest. This lead article is more like the same drivel we get day day out from ABC and other failed reporting organisations. People who don't read the Australian I've found to be in denial, not up to date and generally not willing to listen.

As to political, I vote for the best leader & policies I see, so don't assume that uninformed conclusion! I have no problem with an economic based move to renewables.

Don't throw the baby out with the bath water Doug.

This sort of article comes under the heading of misleading and deceptive.
A) The major part of the Antarctic has been cooling for more than three decades. Antarctic ice is currently at record levels since measurements began
B) UK Met office and Dr Pachauri from the IPCC have admitted that there has been no statistically significant planetary temperature rise for 16+ years.
Carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have risen by approximately 10% over that period. When I did science, the conclusion would have been that carbon dioxide is not the principal driver of planetary temperature.
C) In the Northern Hemisphere, there have been a succession of severe winters. A new all-time Northern Hemisphere low temperature record was set in Siberia in February.
D) Currently the global temperature anomaly over the 30 yr average is +0.07 degC [satellite measurements.]
At the moment, the divergence from reality of the major temperature forecasting models has become embarrassing.
The UK Met office is currently having a major conference to discuss why their models have been such a major failure. A cynic might suggest that the simple reason is that they have grossly overestimated the sensitivity of climate to carbon dioxide concentrations.
In the face of major looming power shortages, even Germany is now starting to rebuild its brown coal burning power stations.
Measurement trumps theory every time.

Doug Lavers

He we go again Global Warming alarmism, the worlds heating up and yet
- the UK has the coldest spring in decades
- Australia was supposed to be running out of water and yet how much of the country has flooded since that comment was made,
- remember all the freeloaders that went Copenhagen for a Global Warming conference and Europe was hit buy one of the worst winters on record that included closing the euro tunnel.
- all these countries build wind generators that blight the country side while producing hardly any electricity because they don't generate any power when the wind doesn't blow while power users have to pay higher fees to subsidise these "renewable" energy projects.
With modern technology power companies that use coal CAN reduce the amount of pollution they generate but governments keep forcing high cost low production projects.

So the deniers are in full force, please read the World Bank report, just released (hardly a leftie organization) its pretty clear - even for you ! Quote from the President of the World bank at the release of this report " LONDON, June 19 (Reuters) - The world should stop arguing about whether humans are causing climate change and start taking action to stop dangerous temperature rises, the president of the World Bank said on Wednesday.
Jim Yong Kim said there was 97 to 98 percent agreement among scientists that global warming was real and caused by human activity.
"If you disagree with the science of human-caused climate change you are not disagreeing that there is anthropogenic climate change. What you are disagreeing with is science itself," Kim told a Thomson Reuters Newsmaker event in London.

If you can read then why do you still hold views so opposed to scientific consensus ?

Rather than debate the extent to which climate change caused by humans / CO2 is real / occurring, it would be more productive to discuss what 'effective action on climate change'.. actually means.

Test: 'In order to be sustainable and effective, for any proposed solution, the common good and self interest must be combined.'

That goes for nation states, politicians, corporations, technologies... anything.

Proposing to shut down the Australian coal industry - fails the test.

Australia's self interest economically, which will trickle down to social, political and other consequences, are in conflict with the 'common good'... which itself is in question.

I.e. emissions will not fall, unless those burning coal - either stop, or burn less.

So the objective will not be met - via this measure...

Fail on both counts, to use the current vernacular = EPIC FAIL.

At my age, one way or another, it won't matter to me. Over 50 years ago it occurred to me that humans were a plague on the earth. Nothing has happened since to dissuade me from that view. Reading all this denial stuff confirms that we are a flawed species. The only way to save the planet is to get rid of us and with any luck we'll do it ourselves, taking much of creation with us, but the world will go on, just like "old man river".

wow that's an extreme view, we have our faults as humans but we also have many virtues. I don't want to see a world of 7 billion its just to much, we should embrace declining birth rates and reduce to a realistic population where the natural environment and people can live in a realistic balance. IMHO population is more important than carbon I see carbon as a by product of population. If we halved the world population had 25% renewable and increased power efficiency 25% within the next century we would be totally sustainable and enjoying life a lot more with ample resources for all

The Stone Age didn't end due to a lack of stones.

It is quite unlikely that world coal production will double. It has reached a tipping point in China, and the leadership there have called a halt to further rapid growth in its use.

Indeed, it is more likely that world coal production will decline over the next few decades, as more efficient coal-based electricity plants go on line, and more renewables get included in the system.

http://australiancarbonprice.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/will-co2e-emissions...

I agree that action on climate is needed. Yet the world has probably left it too long, since it will take a while to "turn the ship around", so to speak. We will have to cope with the consequences in due course.

This similar to the situation with the ozone layer hole. Global action has been taken on CFCs, but the hole still exists, and might take a much longer time to repair naturally.

Doug Gaze comment:
"The world should stop arguing about whether humans are causing climate change and start taking action to stop dangerous temperature rises, the president of the World Bank said on Wednesday."

Are you arguing that the end May satellite position of +0.07degC over the 30 yr average is wrong?

Are you arguing that overall Antarctic Ice is not reaching new records?

Are you arguing that the Northern Hemisphere has not had 5 severe winters in a row?

Are you arguing that the sun is not having the weakest solar cycle for many decades, and this is not influencing temperature?

Measurement [reality] trumps rhetoric [theory] every time.

Doug Gaze again:"Anonymous, Fri, 2013-06-21 16:02 , for goodness sake, read the science ! it is patently false and deceitful to say global warming has stopped. Name a scientific body that says it has !"

Try the UK Met Office and Dr Pachauri, head of the IPCC.

BTW, The Russian Met office is seriously worried that a new Little Ice Age is about to start, and I believe the Chinese Met Office no longer believes in AGW either. Something to do with the horrible winters they have just experienced, perhaps.

For a whole raft of reasons, Australia should invest in the future of energy, future generations and future living. Governments' constant attempts to shore up the past, be it via coal, school buildings or forestry practices. We all need to focus on how we want to live in the future, how we'll pay our way in the world, how we'll educate our young and the kinds of lives that we want Australians to have.

None of this can come from looking backwards and trying to keep the future at bay.

Most of "why coal has to go" could have been elucidated fully by anyone living in London 130 years ago... or in Tokyo in the late 1950s/early60s.

Why is this still an argument?

May I humbly suggest that if Australian coal exports are reduced, the coal demand wouldn't and it just means more coal mined by our competitors and fewer jobs here.

This would be a troubling consequence of Australia pulling out of thermal coal export. There are several exporters who could make up the slack, at least in the short term.

I think it would send a positive signal about the export of pollution, assuming they are not sociopaths and cared even just a little. And which most eligible country, being a first world OECD country having dodged the major effects of the GFC, which has a wide skills base and who could rely on other industry to re-employ its affected population could actually lead the trend towards freezing coal export ?