China and Australia’s trade dispute over coal threatens to escalate into a wider spat over climate change and net-zero emissions targets.
The Morrison government will use China’s indefinite ban on Australian coal to accuse Beijing of skirting its climate change commitments, as it responds to a major trade strike on Australia’s second largest export.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday said that coal imports from other countries “have 50 per cent higher emissions” than Australian coal. “As a result, that would be a bad outcome for the environment,” he said.
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said China would have to increase its local production and imports from other countries, including Indonesia, Russia and Mongolia, whose thermal coal produces emissions higher than Australia’s.
Chinese state media on Monday confirmed a formal ban on thermal coal imports after months of Australian exports being stranded offshore. The strike on thermal coal, which is used to generate electricity, is the latest in half-a-dozen trade hits on Australian products after a year of rising tension over human rights and national security policies.
Frankly I think the Australian government response is a bit pathetic.
If Australia wants to retaliate in a way which gets China’s attention, Australia could temporarily ban or restrict the export 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 levels which is threatening the profitability of the Chinese steel industry. Any further constriction of supply would cause China real economic pain. A suitable punishment for China’s ugly geopolitical games.
Categories: Health & Environment