Australia’s Biggest Polluters Are At War With Each Other

Not coal, dude.

In today’s cooked climate change news, one of Australia’s largest coal producers is feuding with the Minerals Council of Australia — the country’s biggest lobby group for big miners — because the council is… too… pro-coal?

BHP, which owns a fair few coal mines, has been threatening for several months to withdraw its membership of the Minerals Council of Australia because the council keeps publicly campaigning for the government to favour particular types of energy production.

Specifically, the Council keeps campaigning for government policy to favour “low emissions” coal plants, on the grounds that we should be prioritising power prices over emissions reduction. Meanwhile, BHP favours a “technology neutral” policy stance, which is them trying to look pro-environment without having to actually commit to renewable energy. Basically, if you’re trying to work out who’s doing the right thing here…the answer is neither.

Anyway, the Minerals Council doesn’t seem particularly deterred by BHP’s stance, despite BHP currently providing around 17% of the Council’s funding. Just today, the Council announced it will continue with a kind of patronising campaign to promote coal, saying it reckons lots of people just don’t understand why the fossil fuel is so great.

“Some Australians, particularly those who live in cities and may not have direct experience of the jobs and prosperity brought by mining, might be unaware of the current contribution and the future potential of the Australian minerals sector,” an MCA spokesperson told The Guardian today.

As evidence of that contribution, they pointed to the “$185m in federal company tax and state and territory royalties paid by the Australian mining industry between [2005 and 2016]”, which “helped to fund the schools, hospitals, police and other essential services on which Australians depend”.

And sure, funding schools is nice, but $185 million in tax for an entire industry over the course of a decade is…not much. Oh, and the MCA also released a pre-budget submission today urging the government to reduce corporate tax rates. That’s another part of their contribution city-dwellers might be unaware of.

Anyway, if the Council wants to waste its money advertising coal and possibly risk tearing itself apart in the process, they can go for it. After all, last time they tried to tell the public coal is “amazing” it didn’t work out too well for them.