Conservative prime minister Tony Abbott raised eyebrows in his country of Australia after declaring “coal is good for humanity” while opening a new coal mine in Queensland. The PM added that coal was vital to the world and that fossil fuel should not be demonized – and it’s not the first time that Abbott’s love for coal has stirred controversy.

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Many supporters of renewable energy will doubtless see this as a set back, especially with the opening of the new $4.2bn Caval Ridge coal mine in Moranbah, operated by BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA), and Abbott’s declaration that this was “a great day for the world.” “Coal is vital for the future energy needs of the world,” Abbott said. “So let’s have no demonization of coal. Coal is good for humanity. The future for coal is bright and it is the responsibility for government to try to ensure that we are there making it easier for everyone wanting to have a go.” He added, “It is a great day for the world because this mine will keep so many people employed … it will make so many lives better.”

Related: Harvard Study Reveals Coal Energy To Be One of the Most Expensive Forms of Power

It is not the first time that Abbott’s comments have stirred controversy. In May, he spoke at a minerals industry parliamentary dinner and said he could think of “few things more damaging to our future” than leaving coal in the ground. However a month later, he told President Obama he took climate change very seriously saying, “I regard myself as a conservationist. Frankly, we should rest lightly on the planet and I’m determined to ensure that we do our duty by the future here.” Abbott also said that he was very proud to have abolished the carbon tax and the mining tax earlier this year.

It seems that while countries like China are attempting to make efforts to curb their reliance on fossil fuels with a 6% tariff on non-coking coal and increasing spending on renewable energy, Australia is going in the opposite direction. The country’s renewable industry slumped by 70%, due to uncertainty over the government’s intentions for the Renewable Energy Target. However things are going down under, it would appear that they’re not green.

Via The Guardian

Image: Ross Johnson