The Dutch research institute, CE Delft, has conducted an analysis of the “external” costs of using coal. The report was commissioned by Greenpeace.
The study evaluated those aspects of climate change, health impacts of air pollution and fatalities and injuries from major mining accidents for which reliable global data is available. CE Delft arrived at a conservative estimate of €360 billion ($AU700 billion) for the cost of these impacts. The report points out that costs from the impact of climate change are likely to rise substantially in the future.
The report also examines the impact of coal mining on several specific parts of the world, including India, Russia, Indonesia, China, Poland, Germany and Australia.
The report describes Australia as “King Coal’s dirty throne”. The report points out that nearly a third of all exported coal traveling around the world comes from Australia. Newcastle is the world’s largest coal-exporting port shipping out over twice as much coal as the entire United States. Newcastle currently exports 80 million tonnes of coal annually. Plans are underway to expand capacity over the next five years to at least 120 million tonnes annually, and even as much as 200 million tonnes per annum.
The investigation found that in 2007 Australia was not only the largest exporter of coal, but the fourth largest producer and, despite its small population, the fourth largest consumer of coal.
By contrast, a Greenpeace report has shown that Australia could reduce reliance on coal and generate over 40% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2020. The Hunter Valley alone could provide 40% of New South Wales’s energy from renewable sources by 2020, creating more than 10,700 jobs in the process.
Click here to read the full report.