Frontline environmentalists demand AGL stops burning coal

PHOTO: Unsplash/ Dominik Vanyi

AGL, Australia’s largest power company is the country’s greatest climate polluter, said Greenpeace in its campaign to end coal-fired energy. 

The ecological agitator’s report, published May 2021, reveals 85 per cent of AGL’s energy is produced by coal-fired stations powering nearly one-third of Australian households. 

The report Coal Faced said AGL was responsible for 42 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, between 2019-2020. 

This is more than eight per cent of Australia’s total emissions during that period. 

The United States Environmental Protection Agency defines emissions as gases that trap heat in the atmosphere.

Emissions become dangerous over time as the Sun’s heat is netted in the atmosphere, which causes global warming. 

These findings come as a contradiction to AGL’s website, which champions renewable, coal-free energy.

“We’ve been making some of the biggest investments in renewable energy across Australia, including local wind, solar farms and battery technology,” AGL said online.

While the supplier claims it hears loud and clear the importance of renewable energy, the Coal Faced report links its coal-powered energy stations to climate change. 

Greenpeace campaign’s spokesperson, Glenn Walker said AGL’s use of coal is shameful. 

“AGL burns more coal than any other company in Australia,” Mr Walker said. 

“When we look at all the horrible impacts of climate change happening across Australia… there is one company that stands out as the leader for causing that damage…AGL.”

How AGL is directly contributing to climate change. PHOTO: Greenpeace website.

Greenpeace is not satisfied with the company’s plan to close all coal-fired power stations by 2048. 

The United Nations’ aim for affordable, reliable, and sustainable modern energy by 2030, means AGL’s environmental action plan is 18 years late.

“AGL needs to stop burning coal by 2030, it is not just Greenpeace saying this, it is the United Nations, is it the International Energy Agency, it is the IPCC,” he said. 

“They are all saying that in order for Australia to play its role in seeing off the worst impacts of climate change, we need to stop burning coal now.” 

The environmental organisation said coal-powered energy creates numerous ecological problems like climate chaos, destruction of the natural landscape, loss of animal life and devastating health impacts. 

In an interview with The Conversation, Professor of Climate, Space Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan, Richard Rood said emissions already released in our atmosphere cannot be easily removed. 

“Carbon dioxide will remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years [therefore] carbon dioxide is in our environment essentially forever,” Professor Rood said. 

Three coal-fired energy stations are the targets of Greenpeace’s crusade to pressure AGL into 100 per cent renewable energy. 

Coal Faced states Liddell Power station has released 48 million tonnes of carbon emissions since purchase in 2014. 

The environmental impacts of Liddell Power station. PHOTO: Greenpeace Coal-Faced report.

AGL plans to close the station in 2023, yet the campaign report approximates a further 16 million tonnes of emissions would be released before that date. 

Bayswater Power station has released more than 84 million tonnes of carbon emissions and will release a further 210 million tonnes of emissions before AGL closes the station in 2035.  

“AGL marks themselves heavily as clean and green, but the truth is very different, they are a dirty, heavily polluting company,” Mr Walker said. 

Greenpeace synonymously refers to AGL as Australia’s Greatest Liability and urge the public to get involved in the fight for renewable energy. 

“AGL has a choice, they can continue to be Australia’s biggest climate polluter, or they can be one of Australia’s climate great heroes by announcing they are going to shut down their dirty, polluting coal-fired power stations,” Mr Walker said. 

“We are trying to force them down the clean, and right choice of renewable energy.”

The public is urged to email the CEO of AGL, Mr Greg Hunt to replace coal-burning power stations with clean, renewable energy. 

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Tia Haralabakos

Tia Haralabakos is a Media & Communications student at Monash University specialising in Journalism and human rights. She is interested in the multi-faceted landscape of digital media, particularly addressing challenges to online reporting like diversity and content moderation. Tia’s journalistic interests include human rights and social affairs.

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