Media Releases | 20th Mar, 2012

Baillieu Government caught red-handed green-washing brown coal

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Plans for a new coal allocation would be a disaster for public interest and climate.

Environment Victoria has today condemned plans by the Baillieu Government to allocate billions of tonnes of brown coal and run a taxpayer-funded PR campaign to improve the image of coal mining and power generation. The ‘greenwashing’ strategy, revealed today in The Age newspaper, was outlined in a Cabinet Submission along with details of a proposed allocation of coal to take place in 2013.

Environment Victoria Campaigns Director Mark Wakeham said today:

“This leaked strategy confirms our worst fears. The Baillieu Government has acted to undermine solar and wind power since being elected. Now it’s doing the coal industry’s dirty work by using taxpayer funds in attempting to improve the industry’s image, but Victorians are smart enough to see through an ill-conceived PR strategy. The Baillieu Government should be developing a serious plan to clean up our energy supply and embrace clean energy jobs instead of spruiking polluting coal.”

“Coal is widely accepted as the largest contributor to climate change globally, threatening the health and survival of millions of people around the world. It is unthinkable that the Baillieu Government believes it is appropriate to run a PR campaign to improve coal’s image. This is like running a taxpayer-funded campaign promoting the tobacco or asbestos industries.

Mr Wakeham said the last coal allocation in 2002 has comprehensively failed and had not created a single job in the Latrobe Valley.

“In 2002 the State Government gave three companies a total of 15 billion tonnes of coal to build three so-called ‘clean coal projects’. None of these projects materialised and the coal allocation did not create a single job.

“It appears the Baillieu Government has caved in to the demands of companies like Exergen who have spent much of the past decade attempting to get their hands on a coal allocation.”

“Instead of chasing phantom jobs in polluting industries the Baillieu Government should embrace genuinely clean and jobs-rich renewable energy industries.”

Thirteen billion tonnes of coal is yet to be allocated in the Latrobe Valley, which is over 200 years worth of coal at current rates of usage. If burnt in conventional coal power stations it would produce the equivalent of 100 years of Victoria’s current greenhouse pollution.

Mr Wakeham said recent polling commissioned by Environment Victoria and undertaken by Essential Media found that just 7 per cent of Victorians want more coal-fired power stations while 78% wanted more renewable energy, and 82 per cent wanted more support for energy efficiency.

“Clearly the Baillieu Government is out of touch with what Victorians want.”

“The Baillieu Government should immediately rule out a coal allocation and the establishment of an export coal industry. Selling dirty brown coal to developing countries would undermine international efforts to reduce greenhouse pollution.

“Globally, renewable energy investment and jobs are growing much faster than fossil fuels. Over 300,000 people are now employed in the renewable energy industry in Germany. With Victoria’s economy shedding jobs, it’s time for the Baillieu Government to embrace the clean energy economy instead of burying its head in the coal,” Mr Wakeham concluded.



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