Coal is still a widespread fuel source in major Australian industries even in 2021, when much of the world is starting to move even deeper into renewable energy. But according to a UN official, moving away from coal should be Australia's number one priority moving forward if they don't want their economy to tank.
That's because a lot of investors have been increasingly abandoning the use of fossil fuels, which include coal. Selwin Hart, who serves as the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Climate Action, has urged Australia to stop using coal by 2030 alongside other OECD member nations, reports The Guardian.
Hart made the remarks in a pre-recorded speech made to an Australian National University forum, which is scheduled to be held soon. As a former diplomat and climate official for Barbados, Hart put the Australian government in the spotlight for its alleged "resistance" to setting a net-zero greenhouse emission target for 2050.
To aid his cause, Hart cited scientific data which states that global emissions from fossil fuels such as coal must be cut by at least 45% for this decade.
If the world wants to limit global temperature increases to 1.5C (3F) above levels before the Industrial Revolution. Aside from that, he also called for Australia's increased commitment to the emission reductions before the Cop26 summit in Glasgow commences, which is scheduled for November of this year.
Australia's energy consumption is still largely dominated by coal at around 40 percent of their total, according to Geoscience Australia. Oil follows in second place at 34 percent, with gas at 22 percent. Furthermore, a massive 75 percent of Australia's electricity generation is done by coal.
But among OECD member countries, Australia's dependence on renewable energy sources is among the absolute lowest. According to data from the OECD, a paltry 7 percent of Australia's overall energy supplies is from renewable energy. Other countries' renewable energy outputs dwarf this, such as Paraguay's 113 percent. Even Mauritius, a tiny island in the Indian Ocean, already produces double Australia's renewable energy output.
Coal Use Is Fast Becoming Outdated
Coal is considered one of the dirtiest fossil fuels around, and that's no exaggeration. And yet, even several of the world's most powerful countries still rely on it, which is one of the main reasons the globe has been having a climate crisis for the past 200 years.
Hart's warnings to the Australian government were even made not largely in an environmental context. He stated that current market data has been showing that coal's days are numbered, with more investors abandoning it for renewable energy. It's easy to see why because if you think coal is cheap, wind and solar power are actually cheaper. Not to mention, a lot cleaner.
And it's not like entire countries can't depend on renewables for all their power needs. This was demonstrated in Portugal back in 2015, when the nation ran almost solely on renewables for 107 straight hours. If Portugal can do it, then there's no way Australia can't.
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Written by RJ Pierce