The Greens say their policy to close coal mines does not include the metallurgical coal operations in the Illawarra, as the world digests the “urgent” call on renewable energy from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Australian and NSW Coalition governments threw their support behind the coal industry on Wednesday after the IPCC released a new report calling for an end to coal-fired power by 2050.
The IPCC’s report said global warming could be kept to 1.5 degrees but this would still have profound environmental effects.
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said coal was vital for employment in the Illawarra and Hunter regions. He said NSW coal exports grew to almost $17 billion last year (from $11 billion in 2011), and the industry employed 2335 people in the Illawarra.
“Mining is our biggest export earner, it employs tens of thousands of people indirectly across NSW,” Mr Perrottet said.
“Labor can’t be one thing to the people of Newtown and another thing to the people of Newcastle.”
Greens energy spokesman Jeremy Buckingham said the party wanted to close all coal mines within 10 years – but then clarified that this would only apply to thermal coal.
“While the Greens recognise a small amount of metallurgical coal is necessary for steel making, our policy also emphasises the need to reduce emissions from metallurgical coal and maximise steel recycling,” he said.
This would mean metallurgical coal mines at Tahmoor, Appin, Dendrobium, Metropolita, and Wongawilli would be unaffected.
Labor’s shadow treasurer Ryan Park said Mr Perrottet was “confused”.
“The Treasurer’s comments are confused and reveal his lack of understanding about the NSW coal industry,” Mr Park said.
“Growing renewables for our domestic energy supply poses no threat to the coal mining industry in NSW as the vast majority of coal mined is exported.”
“NSW Labor supports Federal Labor’s target of 50 per cent renewables by 2030 and this will largely drive meeting the emissions target.”