Minerals Council of Australia - Statement on the Paris Agreement
15 December 2015
Minerals Council of Australia - Statement on the Paris Agreement on Climate Change
The minerals sector welcomes the agreement concluded overnight as an important step forward in securing a durable and sustainable path to progressively lower global greenhouse gas emissions.
The Australian Government played a very constructive role in the negotiations, both by setting an ambitious and credible 2030 target and by playing a key brokering role in ensuring that the deal included commitments from all major emitting nations.
The Paris agreement and associated initiatives will place technology at the centre of the task of steadily lowering CO2e emissions over coming decades. As a key energy exporter, Australia will play an important part in helping East Asian nations achieve their targets while also having access to affordable and reliable base load energy.
First, the outcome will support and accelerate the further roll-out of low emissions coal technologies, which can reduce CO2e emissions by up to 50 per cent.
High efficiency low emissions (HELE) coal–fired power plants are a central element of the emissions reductions plans of China, India, Japan and South East Asian nations tabled in Paris this week. More than 650 units are already in place in East Asia alone, with more than 1060 of these units under construction or planned.
China’s embrace of these technologies has already reduced its emissions by 450 million tonnes of CO2e annually over the last 7 years, according to analysis by the International Energy Agency Clean Coal Centre.
The boost for HELE plants is good news for Australia, because our high energy, low impurity coal is ideally suited to these power plants. It is why the IEA has projected a strong increase in Australia’s coal exports over the next 25 years.
The agreement will provide fresh impetus to efforts in Australia and globally on the development and deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS). The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has noted that long term emissions reductions targets will be 138 per cent more costly without the widespread deployment of CCS.
Second, the agreement will also support the rapid growth of new generation nuclear power in East and South Asia, providing strong demand for Australian uranium exports. China expects to increase nuclear power by a compound 9 per cent per annum to 2030 while India plans to treble its capacity over the next 5 to 7 years.
Thirdly, and more broadly, the Australian minerals sector will continue to provide the raw materials for an expected expansion of the renewable energy sector.
More than 220 tonnes of coal are used in the construction of every wind turbine, while more than 15 mined minerals are used in the construction of a solar panel.
The minerals sector will continue to work constructively with the Government and Opposition parties in the further development of domestic policy settings to meet Australia’s 2030 target.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Is the Paris deal legally binding?
A: Only if countries choose to bind themselves, otherwise no. Nations are obliged to make an offer, but can chose to define its scope for themselves.
Q: Does Australia have to lift its 2030 commitment (26-28 per cent reduction off 2005 by 2030)?
Q: Are there any changes required in the 2020 commitment (at least 5 per cent off 2000 levels by 2020)?
A: No. The Australian 2020 commitment contained scope for higher ambition if there was concerted international action. While nations are being encouraged to do more by 2020, the attention of policy is now 2025-2030.
Q: Does Australian now have to ban the development of new coal mines?
A: No. The Paris agreements still recognise the social and economic priority of reducing poverty and encouraging growth in developing countries. Each country makes its contributions ‘to its national circumstances’.
Q: Does the agreement call for the phasing out of fossil fuels?
A: No. The Agreement recognises that nations will use a variety of energy sources. The emphasis is on lowering emissions as well as developing renewable sources and in the longer term generating NET zero emissions, which means carbon capture and storage will have a vital role to play in the second half of this century.