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Labor fossil fuel policy: Lobby group’s push to leave coal in the ground

Amy Remeikis reports in the Brisbane Times (23.4.17) on a potential change to Labor’s fossil fuels policy, raising questions about what it might mean for major projects in North Queensland, such as a rail line to Adani’s Carmichael coal mine.

‘Labor is poised to shake up its position on fossil fuels, with a key internal lobby group pushing for Bill Shorten to “start a global conversation” on the future of mining, and leaving coal in the ground.

‘After months of internal debate, the Labor Environment Action Network (LEAN) has drafted a policy for the party to follow, which would put a ban on any public funds being used to subsidise the fossil fuel industry and shift communities reliant on mining into other industries.

‘Federally, Labor has attempted to walk the line between pushing for a shift to renewable energy while remaining in support of fossil fuel mining, with electorates, particularly in Western Australia and Queensland, still heavily reliant on the sector.

‘But the party has so far resisted pressure, particularly from the Queensland Labor government, to support using the Northern Australian infrastructure fund to help private mining companies build a train line deemed critical to opening the Galilee Basin up to coal mining.’

Australia’s energy debates need to move beyond political tribalism

Michael West writes in The Conversation (19.4.17) that there needs to be less politicking and more planning for a sustainable future in government energy policy.

‘As public angst over the prospective A$1 billion subsidy to coal magnate Guatam Adani hits fever pitch, a small company is modestly beavering away on another – more worthy – energy project in Far North Queensland.

‘Genex Power has turned the abandoned Kidston gold mine into a solar farm and pumped-hydro power storage project. Kidston will deliver 145MWh of renewable energy per year. This is enough to power 26,484 homes. In terms of reducing emissions, this is equivalent to taking 33,000 cars off Australian roads.

‘Like Adani, the Kidston project also got a leg-up from government. It won a grant of nearly A$9 million from ARENA, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, and struck a deal with the state of Queensland to sell electricity for 20 years.

‘Unlike Adani’s Carmichael coal mine, however, the Kidston solar project has bankers and investors. Unlike Adani, whose labyrinthine corporate structure wends its way to the Cayman Islands, Genex is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, has a market value of A$70 million and is owned by small investors. When it delivers its first power in the next three months, it’s likely to pay tax on its profits.

‘… So it is that, for many, the Australian government’s stubborn support of the Carmichael mine is beyond comprehension. It defies logic on so many levels: environmental, political and financial.’

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