The United Nations’ top climate official has urged Australia to have a “more honest and rational conversation” about urgently abandoning coal power, which he said was in the nation’s and the world’s best interests.
Selwin Hart, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Climate Action, said wealthy nations must stop using coal power by 2030 and the rest of the world must dump it by 2040 if the world is to keep global warming to within the agreed target of 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“Market forces alone show coal’s days are numbered, as many investors increasingly abandon it in favour of renewables, which are now cheaper in most places,” said Mr Hart during a speech recorded for an Australian National University leadership forum.
“We fully understand the role that coal and other fossil fuels have played in Australia’s economy, even if mining accounts for a small fraction - around 2 per cent - of overall jobs.
“But it’s essential to have a broader, more honest and rational conversation about what is in Australia’s interests because the bottom line is clear.
“If the world does not rapidly phase out coal, climate change will wreak havoc right across the Australian economy: from agriculture to tourism, and right across the services sector,” he said.