Miners vow on clean coal

Miners vow on clean coal

Under political pressure over climate change, the coal industry has vowed to raise at least $1 billion to develop technology to curb greenhouse gases.

The announcement increases by $700 million the funds producers have committed to clean coal technology.

Both the federal government and Labor have put much store in the technology as a way of reducing emissions.

The Australian Coal Association said the $1 billion would be raised over 10 years by extending the $300 million COAL21 Fund.

All black coal companies will contribute equally to the fund through a voluntary levy, which will continue indefinitely.

“This should leave no doubt about the coal industry’s intention to partner with state and federal governments on nationally significant clean coal projects,” ACA executive director Mark O’Neill said.

Mr O’Neill called on power generators and other industries to share the costs of technological change.

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie this week threatened to increase mining royalties, claiming the state’s industry had reneged on a deal to invest in clean coal.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche said $300 million of the industry technology fund would support a near-zero emissions project in his state.

He did not specify if that would be Mr Beattie’s flagship ZeroGen project near Rockhampton in central Queensland.

The ZeroGen project involves the capture and storage of carbon emissions from coal to generate low emission electricity.

Federal Industry and Resources Minister Ian McFarlane said today’s announcement was an embarrassment for Mr Beattie.

“Peter Beattie must learn that where taxpayers’ funds are involved, bully-boy tactics put at risk confidence in clean coal projects,” Mr McFarlane said.

Federal Labor welcomed the clean coal fund, saying it showed the sector was serious about tackling climate change.

“Australia has an abundance of coal and it is in our nation’s interest to find ways of using this resource in an environmentally sustainable way,” Labor spokesmen Chris Evans and Peter Garrett said in a statement.

Even the Australian Greens, whose leader Bob Brown has called for the industry’s abolition within three years, backed the clean coal fund so government money could be spent developing renewable energy.

“While it remains to be seen whether burying coal’s pollution can be demonstrated to be safe, sustainable and economically viable, we welcome the move by coal corporations to invest a proportion of their own profits into this research,” climate change spokeswoman Christine Milne said.

Not all her colleagues agreed.

“Clean coal technology is a dangerous pipe dream,” Green senator Kerry Nettle told reporters.

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd was criticised by the business community today for failing to flesh out Labor’s global warming policies in his budget reply.

“Given the emphasis by the ALP on the climate change issue it is … disappointing that the ALP has still yet to articulate a clear policy on exactly how it will implement policies to reach its emission targets,” Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Peter Hendy said.

Information from: AAP via www.theage.com.au

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