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Greens say China trade barriers a grim warning to Abbott: don’t lock us into a doomed coal future

Greens Leader Christine Milne says the reaction to trade barriers imposed by China on coal imports highlights the risks attached to the Abbott government's determination to protect old industry and big business profits.

"It's clear the main reason the Abbott government wants a Chinese free trade deal is to underpin coal mining expansion in the Bowen and Galilee Basins and expanded export volumes into the long term. Protecting the profits of the vested interests of the big end of town is his specialty," Senator Milne said.

"In the age of global warming it is ridiculous to be pursing a dig it up and ship it away fossil fuel dependent economy, but that's the only kind of economy Tony Abbott understands.

"By driving coal mines and coal ports the Abbott government is condemning investors to stranded assets and lost investment dollars.

"Divestment from coal and investment in renewable energy is the key for the future of the Australian economy but it is the opposite of what the Abbott Government wants to do.

"There is a serious financial risk to any organisation that invests in coal, which is why we have seen an avalanche of organisations and institutional investors divest from coal in the last few months. Moreland Council in Victoria has this week become the first local government to do so.

"Even BHP recognises that lessening exposure and divesting from coal makes economic sense," said Senator Milne.

"Australians will view the Free trade Agreement with China with even more scepticism as they realise that large parts of the community will be exposed to competition from cheap Chinese imports in order to secure profits for coal."

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