Burning coal is the number one cause of climate change – extending the life of coal-fired power stations means more extreme weather like this summer’s devastating fires.

In response to media reports that the Morrison Government is set to give $11 million to upgrade the ageing Vales Point coal-fired power station, the Australian Conservation Foundation’s climate change program manager Gavan McFadzean said:

“While Australians express alarm about the climate-driven bushfire crisis, our Federal Government is looking to fuel future fires with public money to prop up coal-fired power.

“Burning coal is the number one cause of climate change – extending the life of coal-fired power stations means more extreme weather like this summer’s devastating fires.

“To put public money into coal-fired power is an insult to bushfire-affected communities, many of which have been leading the calls for action to tackle climate change.

“Every year Vales Point stays open, it emits around 6.9 million tonnes of climate pollution.

“A Vales Point grant would be just the latest move by this Government to prolong and expand the coal industry, following the announcement earlier this week of a $4 million feasibility study into a new coal-fired power plant for Collinsville in north Queensland.

“The Government is picking winners – or rather picking losers, as coal-fired power will soon be uninsurable and the public will need to indemnify stations against inevitable climate risk.”

Trevor St Baker, the owner of Vales Point, donated more than $100,000 to state and federal Liberal and National parties in 2018-19.

Since Angus Taylor became Energy Minister, several St Baker initiatives have progressed.

  • The Government’s Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) method was reviewed after St Baker’s representative complained Vales Point was unable to apply for funding.
  • The Federal Government’s energy underwriting scheme was announced, then watered down, making Vales Point eligible.
  • A Senate inquiry recommended lifting the moratorium on small modular nuclear reactors (St Baker founded SMR Nuclear Technology Pty Ltd in 2012).
  • St Baker’s electric vehicle infrastructure plans received ARENA funding in 2019.

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