Towards Q3 – Carbon intensive global warming opportunities seized by Queensland

(Originally posted Wednesday 01 June, 2011 – the development has not proceeded as proposed initially)

Premier Anna Bligh today announced that proponents were being sought for a massive $6.2 billion expansion of the Abbott Point coal port.

Seeking to cash in on the Asian demand for Queensland coal the Premier said that up to four additional coal terminals would be built with a combined capacity of 120 million tonnes per annum.

 She could have mentioned that those 120 million tonnes of Queensland coal would generate over 300 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and pollute the global atmosphere.

The Premier claims that when combined with other planned expansions, the extension at Abbott Point will give the port a capacity of close to 300 million tonnes of coal per annum.

For those interested in the global warming contribution, it amounts to about 860 million tonnes of greenhouse gases being mined from the earth’s crust in Queensland, shipped through Abbott Point and released through the power stations and factories of Asia into the planet’s atmosphere.

The Premier says being the world’s largest exporter of coal is “critical to the economy and wealth of Queensland”.

“Coal exports create thousands of jobs and help pay for our schools, hospitals and roads,” she said.

But already there are the early signs of a strategic movement in China and South Korea – two major markets for Queensland coal – away from a reliance on fossil fuels to cleaner renewable and nuclear energy.

So what do we do when the boom goes bust and the world says “No more” to carbon?

What will we Queenslanders do for an economy then? How will we pay for our schools and vital infrastructure without the royalties kicking in from the coal miners? 

 Shouldn’t we be thinking about the alternatives and building the basic blocks of that other economy now.

Maybe after Q3 there will be a Q4 but it might also be too late for our kids to capitalise and provide competitive products and and services in global markets wanting anything but carbon intensive commodities.

Author: Professor John Cole OAM

Professor Emeritus and founder of the Institute for Resilient Regions at the University of Southern Queensland and Honorary Professor, UQ Business School, The University of Queensland.

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