PM’s key to phasing out coal

SHUTTING down Australia's coalmines will not reduce emissions or global demand for the mineral, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a speech pitched at regional Australia - and his back bench.

He defended his Government's approach to climate change, saying gas reserves would be necessary to any transition to a clean economy, while investing in technology was key to meeting emissions reduction targets.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivers a speech at the National Press Club in Canberra. Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP
Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivers a speech at the National Press Club in Canberra. Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP

But Labor took aim at him for failing to take action on "the summer of damage" climate change was causing.

Mr Morrison indicated Australia's emissions reductions targets would not be shifting, despite comments earlier this month his government's climate policies would be evolving.

He said "taxes and increased global bureaucracy" would not lower emissions, but practical change driven by technology would.

"You will also not reduce the number of coal-fired stations in the world today by forcing the shutdown of Australian coal mines and Australian jobs that go with them," Mr Morrison said.

"Other countries will just buy the coal from somewhere else, often poorer quality with greater environmental and climate impacts."

He said a transition to lower emissions could be done "without sending jobs offshore".

In good news for Queensland's $1 billion petroleum and coal seam gas industry, Mr Morrison said gas reserves would be key to any transition to more renewable energy in the electricity market.

"Gas can help us bridge the gap while our investments in batteries, hydrogen and pumped hydro energy storage bring these technologies to economic parity with traditional energy sources. So right now, we've got to get the gas," Mr Morrison said.

"There are plenty of other medium or long-term fuel arrangements and prospects, but they will not be commercially scalable available for at least a decade is our advice."

Opposition climate change minister Mark Butler says the government has failed to take action after the “summer of damage”. Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP
Opposition climate change minister Mark Butler says the government has failed to take action after the “summer of damage”. Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP

As well as taking "practical steps" in lowering emissions, Mr Morrison said adaptation would be necessary to deal with "the new norm" of longer, hotter and dryer summers.

Labor's climate change spokesman Mark Butler said Mr Morrison missed an opportunity to take action on climate change.

"Australians have seen through the course of this summer the damage that climate change is causing," he said.

"Scott Morrison's speech today confirms he has no plan to keep Australians safe from those impacts now or into the future."


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