SYDNEY: Mining giant Rio Tinto said Tuesday clean coal was key to tackling climate change and that developing the technology was a challenge greater than the first moon landing.
The firm’s energy chief Harry Kenyon-Slaney compared the twin challenges of meeting the world’s energy needs, including growing demand from Asia, and combating climate change to the difficulties the US had to overcome for the 1969 lunar mission.
“The challenge now faced by the whole world is far more urgent and important,” Kenyon-Slaney said.
“But it can be solved by the same methodical, determined process. The world has no choice.”
Kenyon-Slaney’s remarks came ahead of a World Meteorological Organization report released Tuesday that showed global concentrations of CO2, the main culprit in global warming, soaring to a new high in 2013.
The energy boss, who described emissions-driven climate change as “among the world’s biggest and most pressing” problems, said he supported the development of all power-generating technologies including renewables.
But he said the abundance of coal meant it would remain the world’s main source of “large-scale, reliable, affordable energy”.
Advancing research and development in carbon capture storage, known as CCS, to make it commercially viable should therefore be a key goal for governments and businesses, Kenyon-Slaney said.