Australia’s biggest coal and gas customer to slash coal and gas use by 2030

The Australian Greens MPs

Australia’s biggest thermal coal and LNG customer, Japan, has announced new 2030 targets for their electricity sector, slashing the amount of coal and gas they intend to use, with a 41% cut in thermal coal and 46% cut in gas over the next 10 years.

Given Australia’s high reliance on Japan, these new targets could see the Australian thermal coal industry slashed by almost 20% by 2030, putting the lie to Liberal and Labor’s claims that coal will continue to be mined and exported for decades to come.

The almost halving of gas for electricity by Japan underscores the economic and environmental madness of spending hundreds of millions of public dollars to open up the massive new Beetaloo gas fields, as Labor and Liberal are proposing.

Based on data from the Department of Industry’s Resources and Energy quarterly June 2021 publication:

  • Last financial year (2019-20), Australia exported 74.1 million tonnes of thermal coal to Japan, which was 34.8 percent of Australian thermal coal exports by volume. The previous financial year (2018-19) Australia exported 79.3 million tonnes of thermal coal to Japan, or 37.8 percent of total thermal coal exports by volume. Over the first three quarters of the current financial year, Australia has exported 56.7 million tonnes of thermal coal to Japan, or 39.5 percent of thermal coal exports by volume.
  • Last financial year (2019-20), Australia exported 30.1 million tonnes of LNG to Japan, which was 38 percent of Australian LNG exports by volume. The previous financial year (2018-19) Australia exported 29.9 million tonnes of LNG to Japan, or 40 percent of total LNG exports by volume.

Japan gets 67% of its thermal coal and 39% of its LNG from Australia.

As stated by Greens Leader, Adam Bandt:

“When Liberal and Labor say that coal will be mined and exported for decades, they’re lying to voters.

“This year, about 40% of Australia’s gas and thermal coal exports have gone to Japan.

This one decision from Japan alone could end close to 20% of Australia’s thermal coal exports within a decade, and with China and Korea also committing to net-zero emissions, the industry could soon collapse.

“These industries could be over by 2030 as our biggest customers accept the climate science, but Liberal and Labor are giving communities false hope about coal and gas continuing for decades.

“It’s time to face facts and tell workers in Queensland and New South Wales the truth. Coal and gas are now on borrowed time and we need to support workers and communities to transition.”

“The federal government must now massively ramp up investment in manufacturing and green energy in Queensland and NSW to guarantee secure jobs after 2030.

“Liberal and Labor must immediately halt their plans to use public money to open up the massive new Betaloo gas fields in the Northern Territory. Opening up new gas fields isn’t just a climate crime, it’s an economic disaster.

“This is further evidence that 2030 is the main game for the rest of the world. The Liberals’ 2030 target is completely out of step with the science, and Labor doesn’t have one at all. That kind of denial is putting coal and gas workers at risk.

Australian fossil fuel exports

2020 Exports

Thermal Coal

(M$) (% of Aust exports)

LNG

(M$) (% of Aust exports)

  1. Japan

6,941

15,209

  1. China

2,492

13,006

  1. South Korea

2,145

3,863

Combined Exports

$11,578 (70%)

$32,078 (88%)

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