War of words between charity and coal lobbies – by Ben Hagemann (Australian Mining – July 30, 2015)


Charity group Oxfam Australia has taken aim at the coal industry in a new report which suggests renewable energy is quicker and cheaper for bringing energy to the developing world than coal-fired power.

The report ‘Powering up against poverty’ accused Peabody Energy, the Minerals Council of Australia, Adani, and other coal mining interests of aggressively promoting coal as a solution for energy poverty, while going no further than PR campaigns in their own interests.

Oxfam also said that statistics given by the Institute of Public Affairs, that an increase in the supply of Australian coal to India would bring electricity to 82 million people, were rejected by Indian NGO the Vasudha Foundation which said the arguments did not stand up “even the most basic scrutiny”.

Report author Dr Simon Bradshaw said there were many examples of how renewable energy was already helping impoverished people to gain access to energy, bringing job creation and community development.

Bradshaw said the rapid rollout of solar home systems in Bangladesh had brought power to 10 per cent of homes, around 3.5 million households, and that the government sought to have electricity to all homes by 2021.

The report also suggested that the environmental damage done by coal to the atmosphere was linked to 670,000 premature deaths in China in 2012.

The Minerals Council of Australia returned fire yesterday, suggesting Oxfam should “stick to facts not ideology”.

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