The Deputy Prime Minister says some people might ‘set their hair on fire about climate change’ but Nationals MPs are unashamedly pro-coal.

The technology road map, released on Thursday, indicates that coal will have a diminishing role in the nation’s energy mix, forecasting that domestic gas and pumped hydro will usurp its role as part of the transition to solar and wind as the reliability of renewables improves.
The road map signals a role for hydrogen and even opens the door to small-scale nuclear reactors in the future. Coal’s role is largely limited to maximising the lifespan of existing coal-fired power stations.
Although Labor has indicated it backs the thrust of the road map, Mr McCormack said Nationals MPs understood there were still many regional jobs in coal in the regions, as well as in renewables.
“We’re all pro-coal but we’re pro-coal, we’re pro-all technologies,” he said.
“This technology road map is a draft. It’s in its draft form so there will be the opportunity for input into that process.”
Despite the road map’s view that coal will fade, the government has made available $4 million for a feasibility study into building a new high efficiency, low emissions coal-fired power station at Collinsville in north Queensland, which Nationals MPs have championed.
The feasibility study is yet to start, and government officials are finalising their assessment of project proponent Shine Energy’s application for the $4 million grant.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor rejected Labor resources spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon’s claim that the government had run up the white flag on coal.
“Labor demonised coal in the lead-up for the last election. And let’s be very clear. The government is a strong supporter of coal as a source of reliable baseload power and coal workers,” Mr Taylor told 2GB.
Coal has enjoyed being puffed up and placed on a pedestal in Australia.
Richie Merzian, Australia Institute
“We have always supported the coal industry, will continue to but technology is important. This is how we solve problems in this country. We’re clever with it.”
The Australia Institute, a left-leaning policy think-tank, said Mr Taylor had finally factored into his technology choices to reduce emissions that the mining and consumption of coal was the largest contributor to climate change.
“Coal has enjoyed being puffed up and placed on a pedestal in Australia, which is spurred on by some politicians such as Senator Canavan, but it’s just not backed up by the reality,” the institute’s climate and energy program director, Richie Merzian, said.
“The only way we will see a new coal-fired power station built is with taxpayer support, which certainly flies in the face of the technology-neutral and market-driven approach promoted by the Energy Minister.”
Mr Merzian said gas was not an appropriate transition fuel because it would only increase emissions, and was also critical of the road map’s backing for the “fairytale technology” of carbon capture and storage to capture emissions from LNG projects.
“The technology road map does at least acknowledge that renewables, batteries and smart grids can provide baseload power by 2030, but the bigger question is why arent they fast-tracking changes and upgrades to the energy market to make that happen sooner,” he said.