Coal is under threat, regardless of what domestic climate change policies Australia adopts, and coal miners and their communities are owed honesty by their political leaders, shadow climate minister Chris Bowen says.
In his first speech since inheriting the portfolio in January’s shadow ministry reshuffle, Mr Bowen notes that almost 80 per cent of Australia’s thermal coal exports go to Japan, China and South Korea and all three have committed to net zero emissions by mid-century.
“And so Australia faces a choice. We can allow the decline of our jobs and our industries to be dictated by boardrooms in Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul,” he will say in a speech on Thursday at the latest launch of a book of essays entitled The Write Stuff.
“Or we can pull our heads out of the sand, face up to global realities, and create new jobs – all while making energy cheaper and more reliable.”
Mr Bowen says “coal mining is good and noble work″ and “it should be honoured, not demonised”.
“Our economy has in many ways been built on the back of it. But we owe coal miners and coal mining communities more than our respect.
“We owe them honesty.”
Mr Bowen says Labor will never win the climate change policy argument if it argues for it only on a moral basis and ignores the economic and job creation benefits.
"Climate change is an existential threat. But if you think you might lose your job, that’s a more direct existential threat. And so, we must tackle and win the economic argument, head-on".