The Bandt rant

DESPITE attempts by Greens leader Adam Bandt to urge Australia’s South Korean trading partners to desert Australian thermal coal, demand in Asia is increasing and likely to do so for some years to come.
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Bandt thought he got a free kick when he lectured South Korea about why they should dump Australian coal.

The growing chorus of coal haters, which now includes the ANZ bank, cannot stop the need for developing nations to use our high quality coal for their burgeoning economies.

Bandt, who probably has not ventured further than his Melbourne and Canberra coffee shops in his research on the issue, thought he got a free kick when he lectured South Korea about why they should dump Australian coal.

He told members of South Korea's National Assembly that in Australia, "public support for climate action has hit record highs" and that major banks and businesses wanted to "throw themselves into the jobs-rich climate transition".

"Not only do I ask that you work to get your government to stop buying Australian coal but I also encourage you to agitate to renegotiate our free-trade agreements to include carbon tariffs against us," he said.

South Korea has established a target of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, which is being interpreted by Bandt and other coal doubters as a death knell for Australian coal.

As a significant exporter of thermal coal, NSW's fortunes are tied to the growth of coal use in the region.  

However, it need not worry if some of its trading partners reduce their imports because there will be plenty of other takers to replace them.   

NSW would need to increase thermal coal exports by 75 million tonnes by 2040 just to maintain its current market share.

Demand for thermal coal in NSW's major export markets is forecast to increase 495Mt between 2018 and 2040, according to a market report prepared by Commodity Insights in September 2019.

Small reductions in demand from China and Japan are offset by large increases in demand from other countries, particularly India, Vietnam, Philippines, and Bangladesh.

Turning to ANZ, which is supposed to be Australia's most Asia-focused bank, you would think it would know better about the role coal plays in the regional economy.

The bank wants to apply a net zero emissions test to future loans.

As resources minister Keith Pitt said, Australia was focused on economic recovery and getting back to work.

"It is extraordinary that ANZ's priority is to play environmental activist," he said.

Hogsback also thinks it is extraordinary but despite efforts to thwart one of the nation's leading export industries, continuing demand from our Asian neighbours will ensure the viability of the Australian coal industry for decades to come.