US-China deal to push clean coal growth
Deal to push clean coal growth
- by:ANNABEL HEPWORTH
- From: The Australian
- November 14, 2014 12:00AM
TWO of the world’s top mining executives have declared that the pact between the US and China should spur progress on clean coal technologies.
Amid fears the deal could hurt Australia’s coal producers, miners yesterday lined up to applaud the support for “advanced coal” technologies in the deal between the world’s two biggest economies.
BHP Billiton chief executive Andrew Mackenzie said while the impact of the agreement was “hard to tell at the moment”, it would be “wrong” to rush to the conclusion that “anything to do with climate is bad for coal’’.
“It needn’t be if the right technology is developed, and people also want to solve the issue of keeping energy affordable and secure,” Mr Mackenzie said.
The deal should not mean “that you drastically move away from coal”, Mr Mackenzie said, advocating that the “the world moves quickly to deal with offsetting technologies like carbon capture and storage”.
He said that “formulating away” from fossil fuels could drive up energy costs and undermine “the very growth that actually would stimulate a lot of the technology ideas that could solve both issues of keeping energy cheap and lowering carbon in the future”.
Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh also stressed the role of carbon capture and storage, saying he hoped the deal would allow the technology to “take a leap forward”.
Under the new climate change agreement, the US and China will strengthen co-operation on advanced coal technologies, as well as nuclear energy, shale gas and renewables.
The deal included the establishment of a new carbon storage project based in China.
Mr Walsh said it was important that the US-China agreement had “identified that technology is going to be the solution and they are going to work on it together”.
“That is a huge breakthrough that is important for us,” Mr Walsh said.
Asked if he was concerned about stranded coal assets, he said “no, because coal will continue to be part of the energy solution”.
“Don’t get me wrong, renewables do have a serious part to play but you’ve got to look at how is the baseload going to be provided. At the moment, the options are either fossil fuels or uranium.”
Global CCS Institute chief executive Brad Page said the US and China were making progress on developing and deploying carbon capture and storage.
“This isn’t about choosing one fuel over another — it’s about maintaining energy security while reducing our carbon emissions at the same time,” Mr Page said.
Minerals Council of Australia executive director of coal Greg Evans said the co-operation between the US and China on advanced coal technologies “is positive for Australia and demand for coal”.
“The agreement should intensify work on carbon capture and storage. It’s particularly important as the US and China are the two largest investors in CCS with China now developing 12 large scale projects,” Mr Evans said.
Also yesterday, miners seized on a new report by the International Energy Agency that forecast global demand for energy would rise 37 per cent by 2040.