Australian Mining Sector’s Future Is Still Bright, Resources Minister Says – by Rob Taylor (Wall Street Journal – September 28, 2015)

http://www.wsj.com/

CANBERRA, Australia—Australia’s new resources minister says he is upbeat about the future of the country’s mining sector, despite slumping resource prices and accelerating efforts among major nations, including China, to combat climate change by curbing fossil-fuel emissions.

Josh Frydenberg, appointed resources and energy minister by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in a cabinet shake-up last week, said he was confident there would be strong appetite for high-quality Australian thermal coal and LNG gas exports for decades, despite competition from cleaner wind and solar technologies.

“I’m very positive about the renewable energy space; I’m very positive about the opportunities for further investment. I’m very positive about the increasing demand for Australia’s natural resources and energy sector,” Mr. Frydenberg said in an interview on Monday.

The U.S. and China last week announced major steps to fight climate change, including a pledge by China to launch emissions trading by 2017, while India this week is expected to set an ambitious target for up to 40% renewable power by 2030 and emissions cuts of 35% on 2005 levels by 2030.

The commitments by three of the world’s largest emitters add to momentum ahead of global climate talks in Paris later this year in which nations will try to agree on a climate accord to help limit global temperature rises to 2 degrees Celsius.

Australia, which is among the world’s largest per capita emitters of greenhouse gases due to its reliance on coal for much of its electricity, has also set a Paris target to cut emissions by 26% to 28% by 2030, based on 2005 levels.

But Australia’s government last year dumped a price on carbon emissions and reined back a renewable energy generation target to 33,000 gigawatt hours from 41,000 gigawatt hours, arguing they were imposing too high a burden on a A$1.6 trillion (US$1.1 trillion) economy struggling to adjust to the end of a mining boom.

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