The Australian Greens Party have lambasted plans to expand the already highly controversial brown coal operations in regional Victoria, with the Greens labeling Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu an ‘environmental vandal.’
Greens MP for Melbourne Adam Bandt has called the move to further develop and export brown coal ‘environmental madness’ and the party has also called out Climate Change Minister Greg Combet for his inaction against this issue.
Combet, however, has defended his position, stating he would not be interfering with economic developments. He sees the latest coal expansion as something that the Victorian government is ‘entitled to pursue.’
“We don’t have a problem with economic development concepts,” says Combet. “We’re not in the business of picking particular fuel sources that should or should not be allowed to be exported.”
While the views of the Climate Change Minister may seem contradictory – he has even suggested that come July’s carbon tax implementation, brown coal could in fact be used more efficiently – Deputy Greens leader Christine Milne left no room for doubt in her opposition to the issue.
“It is unacceptable for Victoria to change the effort from coal-fired generation and go to create a new industry in exporting brown coal,” she says.
With the Victorian government looking to expand the coal allocation to 41 billion tonnes, the Greens say the move could be ‘catastrophic’ for climate change action plans in Australia. This amount of coal has the ability to burn the equivalent of five times China’s greenhouse gas pollution in five years, according to Bandt. This could not only cause further environmental damage both nationally and internationally, but it could bring brown coal reliance back into the equation for a future Australia, something the Greens ardently oppose.
A key element of the carbon tax has been to remove reliance from brown coal technologies onto green technologies. For many, this latest controversy seems like a complete governmental backflip, leaving them to wonder what will come next.