Tue. Dec 7th, 2021

The frustrated mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest has slammed Nationals politicians, who he says are “able to hear facts” about the coal industry, but have chosen to ignore them for chasing votes.

Forrest, the chairman of Fortescue Metals, stood next to the New South Wales government yesterday when it announced a $ 3 billion green hydrogen plan backed by the billionaire.

He said the production of green hydrogen fuel using renewable energy could provide jobs for people currently working in coal, oil and gas as the country moves away from fossil fuels.

“We need all these skills from coal miners, from oil and gas … they are the exact careers we need right now to build our green hydrogen future,” Forrest told ABC.

Solar panels, wind turbines, a white storage tank and a container
Green hydrogen, produced using renewable energy, is a rapidly evolving alternative fuel source.(Getty Images: onurgonel)

But in talks with Federal Citizen Leader Barnaby Joyce and Deputy Leader Bridget McKenzie shortly after yesterday’s announcement, Mr Forrest expressed frustration with the couple, accusing some nationals of being more focused on their own jobs.

“We need to stop scaring Australians, we need to stop creating fear,” Forrest said.

“You can crack a few more votes in the upcoming election, but after this upcoming election you will be seen for who you are: just a fearsome attempt to save your political job, not the job of every regional Australian.”

The Federal Government is currently considering whether to commit to a goal of net carbon emissions by 2050, something most people in the developed world have already adopted.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is hoping to reach an agreement ahead of next month’s international climate conference in Glasgow, but his coalition partners in the Nationals have been reluctant.

At the forefront, water is pouring on the government’s ‘pure’ hydrogen hope

Morrison has said the government hopes to achieve CO2 neutrality “preferably” by 2050 through a combination of new technologies and without taxation.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor has previously promoted “pure” hydrogen – produced using fossil fuels but with emissions attenuated through carbon capture and storage – as a model to reach net-zero.

But Mr Forrest said that even if the government undertook to reset to zero, the plan to use “pure” hydrogen and carbon capture technology would not work.

“Angus [Taylor] and I have had a talk and I have said yes to not saying ‘carbon capture and storage fails 19 out of 20 times’, Mr Forrest tells ABC.

“To compromise, I have agreed that I will say, ‘It fails, and correctly, 9 out of 10 times.’

Forrest said the government and the country’s biggest emitters should lead the transition away from coal.

“If people like me do not change, if I do not lead from the front … we need people like me and all of them to take the lead.”

ABC has contacted Angus Taylor and Bridget McKenzie for comment.

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