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Out with the coal, in with the flue
John Perkins, The Age
POLICYMAKERS who advocate an emissions trading scheme as the solution to global warming, but who overlook the role of Australia’s coal exports, are suffering from delusion. Practically every atom of carbon in our exports of coal will soon become a molecule of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The Garnaut report provides no recognition of this. Our coal exports are the elephant in the room that we pretend does not exist.
Coal is the most carbon-intensive fuel. Most of Australia’s coal is exported. Australia has the largest reserves of coal available for export and is by far the world’s largest exporter of coal. Australia supplies almost 40% of globally traded coal and coal mainly consists of carbon. These exports are Australia’s largest carbon emission, larger than all other atmospheric carbon emissions combined.
Australia’s annual gaseous emissions of carbon dioxide amount to about 590 million tonnes. Our exports of coal are about 250 million tonnes.
Almost all of that coal will later be turned into carbon dioxide, with a mass of about 740 million tonnes. So, more carbon already leaves Australia in ships than is discharged into the atmosphere. Despite the pretence of reducing atmospheric emissions, current investments will double our coal export capacity within a few years.
When this happens, Australia’s contribution to global warming as a result of our coal exports will dwarf all other domestic sources of emission…
(11 September 2008)
Scientists call for curbing coal burning
U.S. scientists say they’ve determined curbing carbon dioxide emissions from coal might avert climate danger.
Researchers at Columbia University’s Earth Institute said the continuing rise in the planet’s atmospheric CO2 levels resulting from burning fossil fuels might be kept below harmful levels if emissions from coal are phased out within the next few decades.
(16 September 2008)
Short article on the report by Pushker Kharecha and James Hansen of NASA. For more, see NASA study illustrates how global peak oil could impact climate.
Dirt on the coal supply (audio and slideshow)
Shawn Allee, The Environment Report
Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama are trying to sell us on a clean energy future. And they’ve got a laundry list of ideas, including conservation, solar and wind power, and safer nuclear energy. But they both want to tweak an old reliable fuel, too. That would be American coal. Shawn Allee looks at why McCain and Obama are gung-ho on coal.
(15 September 2008)
Richard Heinberg is interviewed during this segment.