Coal giants turn to renewable energy

SUNSHINE Coast environmentalists are calling on coal companies to come clean about how coal helps developing nations overcome energy poverty.

An Australia Institute report released last week revealed that when coal companies funded energy- poverty reduction projects, they used renewable energy sources such as hydro and solar - and not coal.

Report author Rob Campbell said Indian mining company Adani distributed solar street lighting to villages in India, BHP Billiton donated solar panels in southern Pakistan and Rio Tinto helped connect Peruvian locals to the local hydro-powered grid.

"Coal companies talk about coal being the answer to energy poverty. That's what they say, but when you look at what they do, it's a totally different story," he said.

Little Mountain resident and Beyond Zero Emissions spokesperson Dylan Tusler said there was no reason developing countries would use coal, when cleaner and more efficient technology was available.

"To say they require it is like saying they can't use mobile phones, but need to go back to putting telephone wires across the country," he said.

Dicky Beach resident and Sunshine Coast Environment Council spokesman Ian Edwards is a chartered accountant and worked in the finance industry for 20 years.

"I don't want to demonise the coal industry, it's played its part, but it's time to move on," he said.

"I don't think any one industry should stand in the way of true economic, societal and environmental progress."

Coal mining company Peabody Energy will host an event at the G20 Summit this week on the role of coal in meeting unmet energy.

A spokesman for Peabody Energy said coal was "at the heart of eradicating energy poverty."

"It is absurd to suggest otherwise when world leaders, agencies and analysts all agree that it has been - and will be - a major positive force," he said.

The coal mining industry was "critical for jobs", and efforts to address climate change should focus on carbon capture and storage technology, a spokesman for the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union said.

"CCS is critical to cutting emissions and to the longevity of the coal industry, but it is not receiving the funding it deserves," the spokesman said.

Topics:  australia institute coal

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