Australia’s peak mining lobby group has released a road map to cut carbon emissions at mine sites as it throws its support behind the Paris agreement.
The Minerals Council of Australia wants to use clean energy and electric vehicles at mines across the country.
“There is no virtue-signalling here. These are concrete actions that will make a difference to our industry,” chief executive Tania Constable told reporters on Monday.
But climate action advocates and conservationists have rubbished the plan, with one group dubbing it “embarrassing”.
The Minerals Council supports building new “cleaner” coal plants.
“It’s both possible and plausible for the coal sector to achieve near zero or net-zero emissions,” Ms Constable said.
She said the Minerals Council remained committed to the Paris Agreement goals of combating climate change and boosting sustainable development.
Australia is a signatory to the agreement, committing the country to a 26 to 28 per cent reduction in emissions on 2005 levels by 2030.
The Minerals Council three-year plan does not include a target date to see mines decarbonise.
“Putting a date on that is just contrary to making that decarbonisation occur as quickly as possible,” Ms Constable said.
Australian Conservation Foundation’s Gavan McFadzean said the Minerals Council wasn’t taking climate change seriously.
“You can’t keep digging up coal and gas in Australia … and think putting a couple of solar panels on a mine site is going to deal with the climate crisis,” he told AAP.
He said the plan was meant to handle a PR crisis as the mining industry’s reputation kept being dragged down by its coal and gas sectors.
Mr McFadzean pointed to one of the councils’ member companies, Rio Tinto, which had pledged to have net-zero emissions by 2050.
He said the council should be helping phase out coal and gas mining as exports drive up global carbon emissions.
Dan Gocher, climate director at the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, said mining investors would be disappointed.
“This is embarrassing and woefully inadequate: the MCA can’t even commit to net zero emissions by any date,” Mr Gocher said.
Ms Constable said climate change posed risks and opportunities for the sector with sustained action needed to dampen its effects.
The council will set up an independent panel to advise on how to decarbonise the industry.
It will also consider opening the mining industry’s books to the public, with shareholders to get more information on climate change-related risks affecting companies.