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Australian energy firm AGL to shut all coal power stations by 2050

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AGL Energy Ltd, Australia's No.2 power retailer, said on Friday it would not buy any more coal-fired power stations and that it would close all its existing coal-fired power plants by 2050.

[SYDNEY] AGL Energy Ltd, Australia's No.2 power retailer, said on Friday it would not buy any more coal-fired power stations and that it would close all its existing coal-fired power plants by 2050.

The company, which in September 2014 completed a A$1.5 billion (US$1.17 billion) purchase of two coal-fired power stations from New South Wales state, revealed the apparent about-face in a new "greenouse gas policy". "It will be an ongoing, progressive process, managing the efficient operations of our assets, and the transition of our people into new generation technologies and careers," Andy Vesey, AGL's chief executive officer since February, said in a statement.

The move comes as Australia's coal industry faces a slowdown in exports to China as the country's biggest trading partner turns to cleaner energy options.

Australia's own approach to cutting carbon emissions is in limbo as politicians struggle to agree on a national renewable energy target and after a new government overturned a controversial carbon tax on polluters in 2014. "It is important that government policy incentivises investment in lower-emitting technology while at the same time ensuring that older, less efficient and reliable power stations are removed from Australia's energy mix," Mr Vesey said.

AGL shares were down 0.8 per cent at mid-session, in line with the broader Australian share market.

REUTERS