Thursday, April 12, 2012

Baillieu to spin coal fiction into "fact"

Yesterday, The Age reported the Baillieu Government's "Plan to head off protests on coal". This deceitful plan to sell brown coal expansion to the Victorian public itself acknowledges that "as part of action on climate change, many stakeholders expect to see a transition away from coal".

It's worth asking why, as we also note the fundamental obligation of any publicly funded government campaign to be based on truth.

Coal protest, which the so-called Coal Action Plan (CAP) aims to head off, is founded not just on the unavoidable high emissions from using coal - especially brown coal - as a fuel source, but on its significant health and environmental impacts, and on the clear threat posed to prime agricultural land.

There is no way (in the words of the plan) to "identify actions to address" these "issues" apart from leaving coal in the ground - the only form of carbon capture and storage we know that works.

Talk of "low-emission" or "clean" coal technology is self-contradictory, as there is no existing or foreseeable technology with emissions low enough to avoid a heavy contribution to climate change. Nor is there any such technology that comes even close to genuinely clean energy sources - such as solar and wind - that can be tapped by low or zero emission renewable technologies that are working right now around the world.

The government's "coal narrative" can only ever be a work of fiction; the narrative we need, one that can CAP our growing carbon emissions within safe limits, must be based on fact. The alchemy of turning coal fiction into "fact" does not become possible, even for Premier Baillieu, just because there are coal dollars to be made.

See also views by Lynn Frankes ("Next generation be damned") and Jo McCubbin in today's letters in The Age.

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