The announcement by the US and China on their future climate change targets puts technology, and particularly low emissions coal technologies, at the centre of efforts to reduce global CO2 emissions.

In the case of China, the agreement shows that it is possible to constrain emissions while keeping a central role for coal in meeting strong energy demand.

The strengthening of the US-China policy dialogue and practical co-operation on advanced coal technologies, nuclear energy, shale gas and renewable energy provide many opportunities for Australia, particularly its coal and uranium sectors.

The target of China's efforts will be to reduce the use of low quality coal in boilers in buildings and small manufacturing and shift the emphasis to modern, highly efficient centralised supercritical coal-fired power generation.

That will require high quality coal which Australia is well-placed to supply. In fact, estimates suggest that China's coal fleet will expand by 400 Gigawatts standing capacity by 2040; that growth is more than the US's entire coal sector today (300 GW).

With China accounting for more than half of global coal use, that demand will be a key driver of the International Energy Agency new forecast released today showing that global coal demand will increase by 15 per cent to 2040.

Accelerating the existing commercial adoption of CCS, through initiatives such as the joint new international public-private carbon storage project based in China provides scope for further technical co- operation with Australia’s world leading experts in this field. China is intensifying work on carbon capture and storage with 12 projects underway, planned or under construction.

Technological innovation in carbon capture, utilisation and storage and energy efficiency will enhance the capacity of nations to reduce their emissions without harming economic growth or energy security.

This initiative is in lock step with the joint work of the Australian coal industry’s Coal21 Fund and Commonwealth and state governments as joint funders of a wide range of low emissions coal projects over several years.

The minerals industry has long argued it is imperative for all nations is to sustainably reduce the production and consumption of greenhouse gas emissions without compromising international competitiveness, energy security and economic growth, improved living standards and poverty alleviation. 

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