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The Australian government says it will not phase out the use of coal-fired power, despite a new report saying its elimination is integral to limiting global warming.

Tara Cosoleto
Presented by
Euna Cho
Published on
Tuesday, October 9, 2018 - 21:35
File size
11.05 MB
6 min 2 sec

Prime Minister Scott Morrison maintains Australia is satisfied with its climate change policy, despite a new report calling for immediate changes across society to prevent an increase in world temperatures.

The report, from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warns there will be a "global catastrophe" if temperature rises exceed pre-industrial levels by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The chair of the Panel, Hoesung Lee, says coal-fired electricity must end by 2050 if the world is to limit global warming increases to 1.5 degrees.

"First, climate change is already affecting people, ecosystems and livelihoods all around the world. Second, limiting warming to 1.5 degrees is not impossible, but would require unprecedented transitions in all aspects of society. Every bit of warming matters."

Mr Morrison says he will consider the report, but maintains Australia is satisfied with meeting its targets under the Paris Agreement.

Figures from the Department of the Environment and Energy show black and brown coal generated about 62 per cent of Australia's electricity in 2016-17.

Renewable sources, like wind and hydro, generated 15.6 per cent.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the "lights would go out on the east coast of Australia" if coal-fired production was phased out.

But Greens M-P Adam Bandt says it is imperative that Australia abandons its reliance on coal, for power and income.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack says coal is an important part of Australia's energy mix.

He has told Sky News, it should not be phased out.

"I'm very much supportive of the coal industry, very much supportive of what those workers in high-vis(ibility) vests do whether they're in Queensland or New South Wales, or wherever they may happen to be in Australia. I understand the concerns. I understand the IPCC report. I'll certainly consider what it has to say but the fact is coal mining does play, and coal-fired power stations do play, an important part of our energy mix in Australia and will do so going forward."

Australian Conservation Foundation chief executive Kelly O'Shanassy says coal is no longer a viable option anywhere in the world.

Ms O'Shanassy says the Australian government needs to change direction.

The Conservation Foundation's Kelly O'Shanassy says immediate action from the Australian government is imperative.

"This is not just an impact on the natural world, this is an impact on all living things including humans. That's why we need to reduce the amount of global warming. Limit it to as little as possible, because the hotter the world gets, the more dangerous it is to live in."