October 18, 2009 | Ronda Jambe

Old King Coal still rules

The Age has reported on Victorian cabinet documents that indicate they want to open the La Trobe Valley brown coal up for export. Apparently a company called Exergen would mine, dry and ship the coal to India, via a 150km undergroung pipe.
Very high tech, very big project, very unwise.
But they know that.
The giveaway is the justifications trotted out. Straight from the textbook examples of ‘tragedy of the commons’:
a) If we don’t, someone else will, or they might use energy sources that will cause even worse emissions. (no, there isn’t enough chicken execrement in the world to make worse pollution than brown coal)
b) Victoria isn’t able to solve global carbon emissions by itself (is the implication that therefore they might as well exacerbate the problem?)
and, with heart on sleeve, that
c) burning brown coal will help lift many Indians out of poverty (presumably it is a better quality of dying if you have electricity to watch your family starve from respiratory diseases and climate-induced food scarcity)
At least they’re not trying to say how wonderful it will be for employment. The Gippsland Trades and Labour Council is doing that. But cautiously, as they give the nod, because they also want the project to contribute to clean coal solutions. Sort of the same reasoning as limiting fire danger by burning all the trees first.
And isn’t Queensland, for all Anna’s blissy Blighness, planning to increase coal exports? Hasn’t anybody got any better ideas for underpinning their economies in the months before carbon become too expensive to burn? (Assuming Copenhagen comes up with something serious.)
Just last week, in the impressively thoughtful sanctums of the Australian Government I heard a high ranking policy wonk throw away the line: economists have always known that GDP is a poor measure of the economy.
At the national level at least, many measures of Australian well-being are being linked to triple bottom line perspectives.
It’s about time the states woke up to this reality. Maybe they are the problem. But then, coal’s pockets reach all levels of gov.
The article is at:

Posted by Ronda Jambe at 6:28 am | Comments Off on Old King Coal still rules |
Filed under: Environment

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