By Peter Roberts
Anyone looking for the federal government to put emissions-producing exports behind it and focus on zero emissions exports of green hydrogen and ammonia would be disappointed at a major speech just delivered by Resources Minister Madeline King to Japanese industry leaders at the Australian Embassy in Tokyo.
In a long speech King repeatedly reiterated Australia’s determination to remain an exporter of LNG as well as coking coal into an indefinite future, spruiked the export of hydrogen produced from dirty Victorian brown coal, and failed to mention future green resources exports at all.
King said exports of Australian gas were helping Japan reduce emissions, a statement which is only true to a limited degree and in the short term but ensures the continued exploitation of natural gas.
“As we look to the future, I want to assure our friends in Japan that Australia will remain a trusted and reliable partner on gas.
“This includes ensuring that we bring new LNG projects to fruition – such as the Barossa LNG project and the Scarborough LNG project – which will provide a much-needed source of energy for Japan as your economy decarbonises over time.”
Yes there was the usual nod to achieving net zero by 2050 in both Australia and Japan – a deadline only 26 years away.
But how is this going to be achieved by approving huge new gas projects that have multi-decades lifespans – and if they are to be gone by 2050 is it the responsible thing to just keep churning out greenhouse gas emitting exports as long as possible?
Furthermore, according to King to achieve net zero, there is a need for more exports of Australia’s resources.
“This includes traditional resources like iron ore and also metallurgical coal, which is still essential to the production of steel at scale.
“We also know that we must massively scale up the development of critical minerals projects in order to build solar panels, batteries, wind turbines and electric vehicles.
“And of course, gas will have an important role to play as a flexible and dependable source of energy as we transition to renewables.”
Most worryingly for me King made no mention at all of resources of the future, other than offering support for the export of hydrogen produced from brown coal – with all the emissions that entails.
King misleadingly calls this ‘clean hydrogen production’. It is no such thing.
She said: “I look forward to our two nations working closely together to provide a commercial supply of liquid hydrogen to Japan in the future.
“This fits with Japanese plans to greatly increase the use of hydrogen as part of a shift away from fossil fuels.”
The promise of the future is that Australia can transition from exporting dirty gas and coal to exporting energy in clean forms – green hydrogen, green ammonia and even electricity produced from solar energy.
So why does King make no mention at all about these future resource exports? If these are to replace coal and gas in 26 years we need to be investing in lots of the stuff right now and every year until 2050.
Or is this another case in the federal government of the left hand not knowing with the right hand is doing.
So we have Chris Bowen pushing green technologies, and Tanya Plibersek protecting the environment, while the resources minister still pushes the dame old, damaging resources?
Picture: Madeline King