Monday, June 17, 2013

Leave coal in ground, Australian scientists urge governmen

Ben Cubby in the Sydney Morning Herald: Most of Australia's coal reserves will have to be left unburned if the world is to avoid catastrophic global warming, according to a major new report from the federal government's Climate Commission. The report puts the key science advisory body on a collision course with some of the nation's biggest export industries, and marks the first time a government agency has endorsed calls for fossil fuel industries to be phased out because of their contribution to climate change.

Its findings mean that most of Australia's known coal, oil and gas reserves – many of which are already subject to minerals production licences held by companies such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto – must somehow be left alone if the world is to avoid dangerous climate change.

The Climate Commission acknowledged its conclusions were "sobering" and that the potential for economic disruption could be serious, but said there was no alternative if the world was to avoid dangerous climate change.

"How people react to this is up to the policymakers and governments, as well as investors," said Professor Lesley Hughes, co-author o
f the report The Critical Decade 2013 – Climate change science, risks and responses, to be released on Monday.

"It isn't our job to reconcile the politics of this with the science," she said. "We are simply presenting the facts as best we know them. Just because the facts may be unpalatable to some people doesn't make them any less important."...

Trains and overburden dredge on the former 900mm gauge railway in the open cut coal mine at Yallourn, Victoria, Australia. Taken in 1948 or thereabouts. Scanned from Gill, Herman (1949) Three Decades: The story of the State Electricity Commission of Victoria from its inception to December 1948, Hutchinson & Co

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