Matters of Urgency - Climate Change

We have an urgency motion today with the usual hyperbole we expect day in, day out from the Australian Greens. Instead of using emotion, let's look at a couple of facts. Australia accounts for 0.005 per cent—it's a really small number—of global CO2 emissions and just 0.011 per cent of global coal emissions. Australia's contribution to global thermal coal production also is just under five per cent. Emissions per person in Australia are at their lowest level in 28 years, while we have unprecedented investment in renewable energy and one of the highest rates of household solar uptake in the world. Further, not only did Australia beat its first Kyoto target, by 128 million tonnes, but we will also beat our 2030 targets, halving our emissions per person. Australia's lithium reserves for batteries are among the world's largest. When all of that is taken into account, it becomes pretty clear the Greens are far more concerned with making emotive statements than they are with providing any tangible evidence. They're more interested in whipping up hysteria than in real environmentalism that can practically coexist with economic progress.

At the same time, we are exporting low-emissions sources around the world, which are supporting global emissions reductions. For instance, Australia's black coal emits fewer emissions than brown coal, because it tends to be high in energy and low in ash, meaning that less coal needs to be used for each unit of electricity generation. As such, Australia's high-grade coal is environmentally better coal than that which you can get from other countries with lower-grade deposits. Additionally, our LNG exports produce 50 to 60 per cent lower greenhouse gas emissions per unit of electricity output than coal. As a result of these exports, countries such as Japan, China, and Korea will save 130 million tonnes of CO2 a year.

However, for those people who are really concerned about emissions, it is important to note that our environmental action must not come at the expense of economic growth, of rising living standards and of low electricity prices. For example, in my home state of Queensland coal is a critical contributor to exports and jobs. The royalties provided by the coal industry subsidise a whole range of important public services such as health, education and infrastructure. For every one person who is employed in the mining industry there are four to five flow-on jobs created in Queensland. Further, in 2017-18 coal contributed over $61 billion to the Australian economy—totalling 15 per cent of our exports. It was the second-largest export from this country.

Praying for the demise of Australia's coal export industry is like praying for a monumental black hole in our economy. It would be very interesting to hear how the Greens party would pay for the substantial increases they'd like to see in government expenditure in the absence of the revenue that is provided year in, year out by Australian coal.

It's plain that coal plays an important role in Australia's economic prosperity, and it remains an important part of the energy mix, providing low-cost and reliable generation. It may not always be so, but for now promises of 100 per cent renewable energy are more than unrealistic; they're dishonest. It's simply not technically feasible on current technology. So the coalition offers a practical energy policy, which recognises the realities we face, while Mr Shorten and Labor are stuck in the past with their batteries policy, a throwback to the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years, where, on the promise of a $2,000 subsidy, they'd ask families struggling to pay their quarterly bills for power, to then shell out $10,000 to $20,000 of their own money to put in a household battery. How can anyone seriously believe that ordinary Australian families have the resources to be able to engage in such a strategy?

I remember the last time Labor offered to install things in households around Australia; it led to burning rooftops and dead tradesmen. It was wrong then and it's wrong now.

With world electricity demand expected to rise by 63.5 per cent by 2040, coal will remain crucial in ensuring the lights turn on for millions of people around the world. It's a critical part of world energy generation and I hope it continues well into the future to be an important part of our economic landscape, as it sustains our economy, creates jobs and brings the benefit of low-cost dependable energy to those who can least afford virtue signalling for the cities.