The G7 has delivered a timely reminder on the need for a global roadmap to a low carbon economy through ongoing research and development in carbon capture, storage and re-use technologies.

The G7 statement says all nations must do their part to achieve a low-carbon global economy in the long-term including developing and deploying innovative technologies striving for a transformation of the energy sectors by 2050 and committing to develop long term national low-carbon strategies.

Australia, which accounts for more than 30 per cent of the world's uranium reserves, is well placed to become a major contributor to the increased adoption of zero emissions base load nuclear power around the world over coming decades.  This trend is already evident with 70 nuclear reactors are under construction and hundreds more planned or proposed around the world.

It is also important to emphasise that decarbonisation and continued fossil fuel use are not mutually exclusive.  The production of zero emissions electricity from coal is already happening.  Using carbon capture and storage, the Boundary Dam power station in Canada is demonstrating that coal can produce affordable energy at virtually zero emissions.

Importantly, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has forecast that a global solution to climate change without CCS will be 138 per cent more costly than other options.

Meanwhile in Japan, China and Korea, as well as in developing Asia, new high efficiency coal plants are producing low cost, base load energy while slashing CO2 emissions by as much as 40 per cent. New advanced technologies will lower that carbon footprint even further.

Australia's coal industry is playing its part and will continue to do so. The Australian coal industry has committed more than $300 million to a range of projects including:

  • Successfully capturing CO2 at a coal-fired power plant at Callide in Queensland's Bowen Basin.
  • Successfully storing 65,000 tonnes of CO2 in a depleted gas field in Victoria's Otway Basin.
  • Intensified the search for major CO2 storage sites for future CCS projects with exploration work underway or planned in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and WA. 

Coal will continue to play an on-going role in the world's electricity generation due to its reliability and cost competitiveness.

The outlook for investment in coal production will remain strong. The independent International Energy Agency expects the global coal trade to grow by 40 per cent over the next 25 years, with Australia expected to regain its ranking as the world's largest coal exporter later this decade.

High quality Australian coal is in demand across a diversity of markets notably Japan, China, India, Taiwan and Korea while many fast growing ASEAN countries will increasingly look to Australia as a reliable supplier of thermal coal for their electricity generation requirements.

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