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Australia, Coal And The Point Of No Return

A new report states if planned expansion of coal exports from Australia proceeds, the nation will be one of the biggest global contributors to catastrophic climate change.

We’ve mentioned in the past Australia being a Typhoid Mary of coal and late last year, the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicted Australia will soon be the world’s biggest coal exporter again.

The Greenpeace report, ‘The Point of No Return’, says Australia is the second biggest offender in a list of 14 mega coal projects in the pipeline that will help it regain its filthy crown. In re-assuming the throne; a massive price will be paid by all.

“In 2020, the emissions from the 14 projects showcased in this report – if they were all to go ahead – would raise global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels by 20% and keep the world on a path towards 5°C to 6°C of warming.”

By 2025, Australian coal exports could increase to 408 million tonnes a year above 2011 levels, pushing associated carbon emissions up by 1,200 million tonnes annually once the coal is burned.

“By then, the CO2 emissions caused by Australian coal exports would be three times as large as the emissions from Australia’s entire domestic energy use,” says the report.

To avoid the point of no return, the report references the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2011; which states building of new fossil fuel infrastructure needs to stop within five years. Greenpeace says given this, it is “placing the planned dirty energy projects in direct conflict with a liveable climate.”

It doesn’t have to be this way says the group.

“If the governments supporting the projects in this report help push the world past the point of no return, the great irony will be that the resulting climate chaos was preventable.”

Greenpeace says clean and safe renewable energy, combined with energy efficiency, can bring us back from the brink. Far from being pie-in-the-sky; the progress made just in the last decade is testimony to what could be achieved with a focus on renewables as the centrepiece of the world’s energy future.

The 60-page Point Of No Return report can be viewed in full here (PDF).

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