Our industry has to remind everyone about the value of coal for socio-economic development, especially when irresponsible and ignorant calls are being made to phase out coal or stop its export.
This is all the more important when Greenpeace has mounted a campaign to perpetrate physical attacks on facilities such as ships carrying coal to energy starved Asia.
In Australia, a new report from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology shows that the coal industry brings in AU$43 billion every year. This represents 3.1% of gross value added in Australia in the year 2011-2012. In terms of employment, the coal industry in Australia generates around 180,000 jobs – most with above national average salaries.
When campaigning for an end to the coal industry in Australia, Greenpeace has no plan for 180,000 people whose jobs depend on coal. It is doubtful they have done any thinking on the social and economic impact of their reckless attacks, either inside Australia or in the countries that import Australian coal.
In Asia where most Australian coal exports are destined, coal plays a strong role in social and economic development. In China, coal has been the major energy source fuelling the industrial development which raised over 660 million people out of poverty over the past three decades. It has fuelled an unprecedented poverty alleviation campaign. Indeed without poverty reductions in China – 80% fuelled by coal – global poverty has actually increased over the past 30 years! It is wrong that Greenpeace should dictate that other developing countries should not access the fuel that has driven down poverty in China and driven the prosperity of the Western world.
Coal is one of the most valuable industries Australia has and certainly the industry of most direct social and economic value to the developing world.