Call for dialogue on Qld mine emissions

·3-min read

Coal miners are calling for a "much more open dialogue" with the Queensland government about its plans to cut emissions from existing projects.

The state has proposed that new mine applications include methane emissions abatement plans in the draft Queensland Industry Development Plan.

The environment department is also considering a plan for "transitioning" emissions at existing coal and gas projects.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Marfarlane says the industry wants more information about the proposal.

"We're currently having a discussion with the Department of Environment about some of the comments they've made (in the plan)," he told AAP.

"Particularly the retrospective study of some of those things."

Mr Macfarlane said the coal industry was working hard to lower its emissions, and the state government should be open about its emissions plans.

"We've got to have a much more open dialogue and a much better understanding of what it is because there just seems to be a lack of cohesion between, for instance, the Department of Environment and Science and the Department of Resources," he said.

Resource Minister Scott Stewart said the environment department was taking into account the QRC's feedback on the "transitioning" proposal.

However, he warned the sector would suffer if it didn't lift its environmental, social, and governance standards to fit with net zero goals.

"If we continue to do what we're doing now we're going to be left behind in the market," Mr Stewart said.

"And we need to make sure that Queensland with our abundance of resources - whether they be gas, coal or new economy - that we position ourselves in the market with the best opportunities to sell the best products in the world.

"And that will include part of those decarb plans."

The impacts of failing to reduce growing coal mine methane emissions were highlighted in a report released on Wednesday.

The analysis by UK environmental think tank Ember, commissioned by Lock the Gate Alliance, warned Australia was underestimating methane emissions.

Methane can trap 82.5 times more heat than carbon dioxide, accelerating short-term global warming.

Coal mines leaked 898,000 tonnes of methane in 2019, according to the federal industry department.

That's equal to about 74.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide - more than the 44 million tonnes emitted from cars in the same year.

Instead of measuring gas leaking from mines, miners estimate pollution based on coal output.

"The uncertainty associated with estimates is very high, anywhere between more than 50 per cent, or a factor of two higher," it said.

Queensland and NSW mines emit 90 per cent of Australia's methane pollution, and there's no regulations to slash the leaking gas.

Australia's methane emissions will grow by another 25.86 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent if 68 planned coal mines in Queensland and NSW go ahead.

"If Australia's proposed production capacity is realised, the country will by 2030 be producing more than five times the maximum production amount to achieve a 1.5C compliant pathway in 2030," the report said.

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