A new report in Nature magazine that global peak coal will be reached within years, leading to the end of the era of cheap coal, has major implications for the future of the Australian economy, the Australian Greens said today.
If global coal prices increase thanks to peak coal, renewable energy technologies will become directly competitive with coal more rapidly and as yet unproven carbon capture and storage technology is unlikely to ever be cost-competitive.
"Peak coal is a game-changer for the Australian economy," Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said.
"The dreams of being able to cheaply and effectively capture and store pollution from coal fired power stations are already faltering around the world, hitting both financial and technical stumbling blocks. Peak coal will burst the bubble.
"Without cost-competitive carbon capture and storage, the global market for coal around the world will fall away, leaving Australia stuck in the hole we have dug ourselves unless we change direction rapidly.
"Renewable energy technologies are already becoming increasingly competitive, particularly given the fact that they do not need ongoing fuel supplies.
"Australia needs to shift our focus, in federal funding, carbon price design and more, off coal and onto renewable energy or be trapped in an economic and environmental dead end."