When the coal industry says its product is the only way the world’s poor can lift themselves from poverty, some people in Australia believe them.
Chief among the industry’s promoters has been the country’s Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, who has said that coal is “good for humanity” and that the energy source and main driver of climate change shouldn’t be “demonised”.
But a new report from progressive think tank The Australia Institute (TAI) has put a looking glass up to the industry’s claims to a glistening future and found what it claims is little more than self-serving industry spin.
The industry has been pushing its supposed concerns for “energy poverty” in media statements, columns, industry presentations, reports and advertising campaigns this year.
According to the International Energy Agency, there are about 1.3 billion in the world without access to electricity and about 2.7 billion without access to clean cooking and heating. Almost all these people live in rural areas in either sub-Saharan Africa or Asia.
The coal industry – led by a PR campaign from the world’s biggest private-sector coal company, Peabody Energy – has been using the energy poverty issue as way to lobby investors and world leaders.
But the TAI report – All Talk, No Action – finds that the industry’s claim are largely misrepresenting the current economic climate and forecasts for the future.