Award-winning British journalist Mehdi Hasan has dismissed the government’s rhetoric around “clean coal” as a contradiction of terms.
Mr Hasan was a crowd favourite on ABC’s Q&A on Monday night, receiving roaring applause after shutting down Minister for Resources Matt Canavan after he talked up coal over investment in renewable resources.
While panellists discussed climate issues, protesters outside the ABC studios in Sydney expressed their opposition to the giant Adani coal mine proposed for northern Queensland.
“We always hear stuff like ‘clean coal’,” Mr Hasan said.
“It’s like hot ice. It’s a contradiction in terms. Coal is coal.
“It’s dirty. You burn it, it produces carbon emissions. You can’t meet your carbon obligations by burning more coal.”
Watch some of the exchange below:
Senator Canavan said he accepted the climate science and was supportive of renewable projects, but maintained that clean coal would be an improvement.
“The world burns six billion tonnes of thermal coal a year. Six billion tonnes. We, in Australia, mine 250,000 million tonnes in total – we’re 4 per cent of world production,” he said.
“The Carmichael mine, the Adani mine, is 25 million tonnes – 0.4 per cent of world production.
“It’s lower grades than the Newcastle coals, I accept that. But it’s 60 per cent higher in energy content terms than Indian coals. It’s going to replace coal of a lower grade.”
Queensland Labor MP Terri Butler said her party did not support federal funding being directed towards the mine.
“We don’t support federal money going into this mine. We don’t support taxpayers’ money going into this mine,” she said.
“And we don’t support a billion-dollar concessional loan from the NAIF (Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility) going into this particular project.”
Mr Hasan added that in 2010, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull himself said: “We need to switch to an economy where all, or almost all of our energy, comes from zero emissions.”
“Why don’t you listen to your own leader?” he posed.
“He believed it in 2010, but not now? Oh, well … you’re going in the wrong direction on carbon emissions. Not the right direction.
“I want Australia, the UK, and my country – the US where I now live – I want them to lead the way when it comes to switching to technology, switching power production to renewables, to zero emissions.”
Islamophobia is growing
Later in the program, Mr Hasan, who comes from a Shia Muslim background, told the audience the rise of Islamic State was largely due to youths, especially males, feeling marginalised.
“ISIS thrives off of Islamophobia. It is the best recruiting sergeant for ISIS,” he said.
“The reason why Donald Trump is loved by ISIS – he pushes people into ISIS’s arms. He makes their job easier.
“It’s growing everywhere. In the United States, anti-bullying in schools is at a record high. In the UK, many people say Islamophobia drove Brexit, in many ways – the fear of Turkey joining, the fear of refugees … But a lot of it is also driven by the bigotry … by the misinformation that certain people get from social media and media in general.”
Mr Hasan’s response came after audience member Fahad Akhand noted he encountered anti-Muslim sentiments “pretty much every day”.
“As a Muslim man living in the west nothing is more alienating, and makes me feel more ‘un-Australian’, than being continually judged for what I am not and viewed only ever through the prism of terror,” he said.
— ABC Q&A (@QandA) July 17, 2017
Senator Canavan said his experience with many Australians is that they are “