LAUNCESTON, Australia, April 24 (Reuters) – A change in South Korea’s energy policy should have absolutely no bearing on the current Australian election campaign, but it should, as it’s a stark warning to politicians who still see a rosy future for coal mines and exports.
Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal and South Korea has been a reliable customer for decades, taking 43.4 million tonnes of the polluting fuel from Australia in 2018, according to vessel-tracking data compiled by Refinitiv.
However, South Korea is now shifting its energy policy to effectively punish coal and promote both renewable energies and the use of cleaner-burning liquefied natural gas (LNG).
At the same time coal is a divisive issue in the federal election campaign underway in Australia, with environmental activists targeting politicians who support the development of new coal mines.
An example is Tony Abbott’s battle for re-election, with the pro-coal former prime minister facing Zali Steggall, a centrist independent who has made action on climate change the centrepiece of her campaign in the previously safe Liberal Party seat in Sydney’s north.