Australian Coal Export Plans Will Erase Few Benefits Of Country’s Weak Paris Targets

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Australia will export a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in its coal in 2016, all but erasing the little benefit it would accomplish if it met its weak Paris targets.

A new analysis from Greenpeace Australia Pacific shows that the billion tonnes of carbon dioxide it will export in its coal in 2016 will erase “the few benefits of meeting its weak Paris target and worsening its contribution to global climate change.” Specifically, if Australia’s coal exports increase by 60%, as the Australian Government expects and intends, then “the resulting increase in carbon emissions will erase the benefit of Australia meeting its Paris target nearly seven times over.” The report notes:

“Australia represents itself as an overachiever in global efforts to combat climate change but despite its commitment to the Paris Agreement, the rapid growth in its fossil fuel exports show Australia’s overall contribution to global climate change is getting worse, not better”

“The Australian Government wants us to believe it is proactive about climate change, but in reality it’s sending its emissions overseas through its coal exports,” said Shani Tager, Greenpeace Australia Pacific’s climate and reef campaigner. “Australia is the world’s largest coal exporter and is avoiding responsibility for its contribution to global carbon emissions. By doing so, the Australian Government is ignoring the most serious threat to the Reef—climate change.”


According to the analysis, Australia’s domestic CO2 emissions have not decreased since 1990, and its coal export volumes have more than tripled in the same period, now sitting at 400 million tonnes per year. This is bad news, as every tonne of coal Australia produces emits 2.5 tonnes of CO2 on average, no matter where it is used, meaning that Australia’s CO2 exports through coal have shot through the roof, increasing by 253% since 1990.

“Australia’s climate change response and its signature on the Paris Agreement simply won’t be credible as long as it sends more carbon emissions abroad than it saves at home, and pushes its coal exports,” Tager said.

Coral BleachingThe report also highlighted the impact that global climate change is having on Australia’s World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, which is currently in the midst of its worst coral bleaching in known history, with almost the entire reef experiencing some measure of bleaching.

“This isn’t a future threat, it’s one that is playing out right now before our eyes, with coral bleaching on 93 percent of the Great Barrier Reef, and severe bleaching on the most pristine northern parts,” Ms Tager continued. “The Australian Government cannot say it is safeguarding the health of the Reef when it is doing everything it can to avoid tackling the greatest threat it faces, which is coal-driven climate change.”

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Joshua S Hill

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (, and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at for more.

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21 thoughts on “Australian Coal Export Plans Will Erase Few Benefits Of Country’s Weak Paris Targets

  • The plan to increase coal exports by 60% is wishful thinking. Who exactly is going to buy? China has a coal glut and imports have collapsed. India claims it wants to expand coal burning – but not imports. A domestic coal surplus has already emerged, and coal stocks are rising. The coal targets are likely to be scaled back as investors are leery of building big, polluting plants with rising fuel costs and falling capacity factors, and the solar boom contunues. Vietnam (I don’t know if it’s an importer) has stopped all new coal plant projects. The giant Carmichael coal mine project in Queensland is a dead man walking, though Adani and the state government are plating pass-the-parcel to avoid the blame when it’s officially killed (source John Quiggin).

    • Is Carmichael truly dead? I read something last week that it’s been “re-approved” (whatever that means).

      • Even though Adani is vertically integrated the problem is that to break even the project needs north of $70 a tonne for the product.
        This means that the power is too expensive to sell into the Indian market.
        No amount of gashing of teeth and blaming court challenges changes the root problem that the product is too expensive.
        The aspect that the Indian Government has decided to curtail coal imports to help their balance of payments renders that market closed.
        All in all not much future for the Carmichael Mine when talking about India.

      • The Carmichael mine is dead. As James alluded to, the Queensland state government only approved the mine to avoid being blamed for all the unemployment ever by the evil Coal-ition government.

        The mine cannot make money at current prices. The mine cannot obtain financing. Indian has declared it will coal imports. The coal cannot be used without killing people. The Carmichael mine is as dead as people incinerated in an Australian bushfire. Which is what we would be getting more of if it went ahead.

      • I rely on John Quiggin here (link to his latest post, search for earlier ones). He’s a well-known and rated economist and works at the University of Queensland, and gave evidence to the last public inquiry. He says the mine just can’t be financed. Adani’s restructuring rules out cross-subsidy from the profitable Indian operations.

    • The Coal-ition isn’t actually selling coal, it’s selling Company Tax cuts.

      If they claim coal exports will increase 60% they can make their budget figures kinda sorta balance and then they can say they can afford to give companies a tax cut, and when that doesn’t work out, they will go back to claiming they have to cut health, education, and unemployment benefits, as per usual. “There is no other choice,” they will say.

      • That sound eerily familiar to the logic used by George Osborne and the Conservative party here.

        • Same tactic is used routinely by Republicans in the US. Tories use it in Canada too. I believe the Nationals use it in New Zealand. I haven’t surveyed the non-English-Speaking countries…

          • Welcome to Wisconsin.

      • Unfortunately, coal is the source of some of those health problems that are trashing the budget. Climate change will do the rest.

        • Don’t worry, health will improve because they are planning to raise the tax on cigarettes, so they can afford to subsidize coal. I would say the irony is delicious except it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    • I notice also plans to build a coal export facility in San Francisco Bay – Oakland. where would the market for that be? If it did go ahead, a competitor…

      • Will not be built until coal gets back to $75/ ton. So basically never.

      • A zombie coal export terminal plan in the Bay Area? This is low-budget Hollywood fiction.

      • I think the plan is to ship to Fantasyland….

  • I must be stupid (or stoopid in US English)… How is it possible to get MORE weight out of coal by burning it. Doesn’t this go against the laws of physics? One Ton of coal can’t contain 2.5 tons of CO2 can it ? Or am I missing something ?

    • Coal contains the C. The O comes from the air. And there’s OO.

      • Hesitatingly I’d say that coal is mostly carbon, which readily bonds with almost everything.
        The latest news in man made materials are “organic” substances that are made of existing elements (like Carbon) but with ‘lab’ made cellular structures that wouldn’t occur normally. A one layer thick mat of pure Carbon atoms that can be used in paint, rolled into tubes, etc.. The characteristics of the material are unique when it comes to resistance and filtering things like sunlight.

      • Thanks Bob, that sounds like a fair explanation. I bow to your wisdom.

        • My wisdom comes from stealing answers from smarter people… ;o)

          • Didn’t Issac Newton say something like that?

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