“The coal sector recognizes that as a global industry we have global responsibilities,” said Milton Catelin, chief executive for the WCA. “Coal remains the backbone of the global energy system, providing more than 40% of the world’s electricity. Demand for coal has never been higher and is predicted to soon overtake oil as the largest source of primary energy. Given the role of coal globally and the on-going challenge we face in meeting energy demand while reducing emissions, the discussions that will take place will ensure a continued focus on and investment in 21st century coal.

“Modern sustainable mining practices, working constructively with the communities in which we operate and deploying advanced coal technologies are central to coal’s future. In particular, deploying high-efficiency low-emissions coal-fired power generation is a critical first step in leading to near-zero emissions from coal,” Catelin said

A special address was delivered by Hon. Ian Macfarlane, member of parliament, minister for industry, “Australia has a diverse energy mix which includes traditional coal-fired electricity, as well as gas and a range of renewables,” Macfarlane said. “The government recognizes the significance of all these energy sources, both now and in the medium and long term for Australia.

“Coal is and will continue to be an important part of our energy mix in Australia and will be essential to economic and standard of living advances in other nations. The challenge now for the coal industry is to make gains on the work that’s been done so far on clean coal technologies.

“Australia will continue to have a keen interest in contributing to new technologies and improvements, given the significant contribution of the coal industry to our economy and to our export markets.”

A 2013 report by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology showed that the Australian coal industry brings in AU$43 billion every year and generates around 180,000 jobs — most with salaries above national average.

“Australia is an ideal location for these discussions to take place. Australia has been built on the back of coal — decades of social and economic growth have been driven by this affordable fuel. Coal remains one of the most valuable industries in Australia,” Catelin said.

“We encourage the Australian government to work with the coal industry on deploying technologies to reduce emissions from coal, whilst allowing Australia — and the developing countries that rely on Australian coal exports — to continue to enjoy the economic benefits this vital resource brings. The Australian government should be helping to drive this as part of the energy discussions under its chairmanship of the G20 in November this year.

“Coal is here to stay and is a critical part of a secure global energy future. A continued focus on and investment in 21st century coal will ensure we can grow modern, resilient societies that reach their full potential while ensuring we maintain a healthy, sustainable environment.”