Australia Set the Stage for Renewable Energy but Erected a Monolithic Barrier- Coal Mining. Or So Some Say… – Part 1

The 2015, Paris Agreement which extended its tentacles to include 196 state parties, was accepted and signed by 195 of those members as of 2019. What Paris began, was a global endeavor to mitigate the impact of climate change, that is today one of the deadliest threats looming over humanity. Formulated under United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), it was the first actionable structured resort to involve individual nations to cut down their greenhouse gas emissions. Australia signed, thus entering a league of nations that volunteered to accost the burning effects of climate change, through some measured approaches, the first and foremost being cutting down carbon emissions and fostering sustainable development, through organized renewable energy initiatives.

So far, the path seemed unfettered and unobstructed. The country was charged much like its other counter parts to harness clean and green energy, self-monitor and report its growing and augmenting efforts with transparency. Australia was touted as the powerhouse of unexploited renewable energy with 40% of it yet untouched and having infinite potential. Its solitary landscape, galloping territories had resources to turn solar and wind energy into practical projects. The ushering in of the new age, so defined by informed conscience, was at its peak too. Research, conservation and the diverse wildlife, distinct to the country would all be affected by this global warning. Shores would be swallowed, heated centers would dry out, humidity dropping would make regions inhabitable, leading to the slow but sure decline of life as the country and by extension the world knew. What was the other alternative? The caution declared, repeatedly, carbon will dilate the poison, green energy could save the day. The worldwide goal, nationally determined contribution (NDC) as stated in the Paris Agreement, was achievable. Bringing the increase in the global average temperature to below 2°C and to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C was the aim.

2019, 4 years hence, the country marches on in the pursuit for better, cleaner energy options. It strategically set state wise competitive renewable energy goals. Marked by some grueling challenges, Australia looks like it will reach the finishing line. 2020 is supposed to see the realization of its globally set renewable energy target. And yet, one ugly head popped up. Australia’s ancient engagement with coal and mining.

The national fabric, political tapestry has seen changes in the recent past. Devised plans so the initiative gains momentum and yet somehow sustained mining operations. What then is the role today of this duality? How do the numerous contributions to renewable energy factor in this rigid stand to continue coal? Or are we making too much of the coal mining operations. The Pacific Island Forum in Funafuti, attended by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, held mid-August 2019, stood testimony to the country’s efforts in hushing, raging accusations on Australia’s lack of defined climate policy. The Pacific nations were unceremoniously silenced on Australia’s Coal exports, even as their countries fall prey to the rising seas.

Supporters say coal exports do not equate to coal burning overseas and emissions thus releasing. This side of the story deserves a fair chance. Why does it have the country so deeply buried to the ground? Why is Australia not giving up on mines and what then does it mean for the world and the renewable energy revolution?

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