Energy & climate change

The importance of access to reliable, affordable energy

Access to low cost, reliable energy, a traditional source of economic strength for Australia and should remain a national priority. 

  • Until the repeal of the carbon tax last year Australian exporting and import-competing companies faced average electricity costs up to 130 per cent higher than those prevailing in other advanced economies
  • While the abolition of the carbon tax was a major step forward, further reform of national energy markets and the Renewable Energy Target (RET) is urgently required, with the RET adding between 9-15 per cent to the energy costs of average mining operations
  • Barriers to resource access have further distorted emerging east coast gas markets.  Reservation policies on the west coast discourage long-term investment.  A lack of investment also hampers the smooth operation of the Northern Territory’s domestic market.
Climate policy should support industry competitiveness

Australia has been wrongly cast, both in Australia and abroad, as a laggard in efforts to slow the growth of greenhouse emissions. 

  • Australia was one of the few nations that fully met (or exceeded) its obligations under the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol
  • Independent research by the world’s most respected economists demonstrates that Australia’s 2020 target represents a fair and equitable contribution to the global emissions reduction effort.

The minerals industry acknowledges that sustained global action is required to reduce the scale of human induced climate change.

The minerals sector statement of principles on climate change policy call for a measured transition to a low emissions global economy will require the alignment of three key policy pillars:

  • A global agreement for greenhouse gas emission abatement that includes emissions reduction commitments from all major emitting nations
  • Market-based policy measures that promote the abatement of greenhouse gas emissions at the lowest cost, while minimising adverse social and economic impacts, including on the competitiveness of the internationally traded sector
  • Substantial investment in a broad range of low emissions technologies and adaptation measures.
Low emissions and coal use are not mutually exclusive

Gains in technology are dramatically reducing the carbon footprint of coal-fired generation technology. 

  • High efficiency, low emissions (HELE) coal-fired generators emit 20-25 per cent less CO2 than the average of existing power stations and up to 40 per cent less than the oldest technology in place
  • 90 per cent reduction in emissions can be achieved with carbon capture and storage (CCS)
  • The Australian coal industry has so far committed $300 million under the COAL21 Fund to a portfolio of projects covering geological storage, methane abatement in coal mines and research, development and demonstration of CO2 capture as a contribution to the international effort.
The role for Australian coal and uranium in meeting energy security needs

Australia is a premier supplier of energy minerals to rapidly growing developing countries, particularly in the Asian region.

  • Between 1990 and 2010, about 830 million people – the vast majority in developing countries – gained access to electricity due to coal
  • Twice as many people gained electricity from coal as natural gas and for every person who obtained electricity from non-hydro renewable sources such as wind and solar, about 13 gained access due to coal
  • The International Energy Agency projects that the global coal trade will grow by 40 per cent by 2040, with Australia providing 40 per cent of that growth in coal demand
  • The outlook for uranium is also strong, with use expected to grow by 90 per cent by 2040

Australian uranium generated export earnings exceeding $800 million in 2012-13 with the potential for substantial further growth as demand for low emissions base load electricity increases in highly populated energy scarce countries like China and India.

Media releases

22 Jul 2015 2030 Renewable Energy Target Will Harm Australia’s Competitiveness

9 Jun 2015 G7 Statement on Climate Change, Energy and Environment

1 Jun 2015 Coal to Play Pivotal Role in India's Economic Expansion

28 Apr 2015 First Uranium Project Approval from Abbott Government

22 Apr 2015 Climate Authority Targets Fail Common sense Test

8 Apr 2015 Energy White Paper – Right Direction But Gaps between Theory and Practice

Reports and submissions

28 Jul 2015 Delivering a low emissions coal future

18 Jun 2015 Even if users agreed to pay much higher electricity bills, SA could not be 100 per cent renewable

16 Jun 2015 Future prospects and opportunities for uranium mining in Australia

15 Jun 2015 Coal: The hard facts

9 Jun 2015 Uranium in Australia – an evolving socio-political landscape

28 Apr 2015 Medium Term Emissions Reduction Target: Minerals Council of Australia Submission

13 Apr 2015 Uranium: Australia’s Next Billion Dollar Industry