Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to the Australian government, the Chinese embargo on Australian coal is increasing CO2 emissions because the coal that China burns is of lower quality. But there is a much better way for Australia to get China's attention.
Bad result: Australia is using the coal strike to challenge China on emissions
By Eryk Bagshaw and Mike Foley
December 15, 2020 – 6:22 p.m.
China and Australia's coal trade dispute threatens to escalate into a major spit over climate change and net zero emissions targets.
Morrison's administration will use China's perpetual ban on Australian coal to accuse Beijing of circumventing its climate change commitments as it responds to a major trade strike against Australia's second largest export.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Tuesday that coal imports from other countries "have 50 percent higher emissions" than Australian coal. "As a result, it would be a bad result for the environment," he said.
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said China needs to increase its local production and imports from other countries like Indonesia, Russia and Mongolia, whose thermal coal emits higher emissions than Australia.
Chinese state media on Monday confirmed a formal ban on imports of thermal coal after Australian exports stranded off the coast for months. The strike on thermal coal, which is used to generate electricity, is the latest of half a dozen trade strikes in Australian products after a year of mounting tensions over human rights and national security.
Read more: https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/bad-outcome-australia-to-use-coal-strike-to-challenge-china-on-emissions-20201215-p56nph.html
To be honest, I find the response from the Australian government a bit pathetic.
If Australia wants to retaliate in a way that gets China's attention, Australia could temporarily ban or restrict exports of iron ore to China to give the US steel industry a boost at the expense of Chinese competitors.
The price of iron ore is already at a level that threatens the profitability of the Chinese steel industry. Any further curtailment of supply would cause real economic pain for China. A reasonable punishment for China's ugly geopolitical games.