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Teacher preparation

Some countries have been working for decades to reduce their reliance on coal fired power stations. In the future, all countries will need to cut their use of coal. What is the best way to do this?

The Debate

Divide your class into teams of four students. Two teams will be given one of the potential solutions to reducing coal fired power from the list below. One team of four will be the affirmative speakers and the other will be the negative speakers. There are specific rounds that alternate between affirmative and negative speakers. The rule for procedure of presentations is that the affirmative debaters speaks first, for eight minutes. Then the negative speakers present for eight minutes. Then each team can be cross-questioned by the audience at the end.

The potential solutions to reducing coal fired power stations are:

1. Have a carbon tax that allows alternative energy to compete with coal fired power stations and use the money from the tax to give everyone a tax reduction.

2. Have a carbon tax that allows alternative energy to compete with coal fired power stations and use the money from the tax to build solar farms, energy research, invest in energy efficiency and better public transport.

3. Have a carbon trading system where a fixed amount of carbon pollution can be purchased at market prices.

4. Ban any future building of new coal fired power stations. Very old coal fired power stations can be replaced with gas fired power stations, but for only 20 years.

5. In ten years all coal fired power stations must be able to store their carbon dioxide emissions underground.


Each group will be give 45 minutes to find supporting evidence to formulate convincing arguments. They can use health, employment, economy and environmental benefits as part of their arguments. Students can print the Research Learning Tool to help organise their ideas. They can use the list of resources provided.

Concluding discussion

  • Is this kind of debate useful for finding solution?
  • How do you think politicians debate issues? 
  • How would you like politicians to debate? 


1. Mining resources:

Australian coal mining industry group - www.australiancoal.com.au
Minerals Council of Australia - www.minerals.org.au
NSW Minerals Council - www.nswmin.com.au
Australian Mining - www.miningaustralia.com.au

2. Environmentalists:

Mineral Policy Institute - www.mpi.org.au
Climate Camp - www.climatecamp.org.au
Australian Conservation Foundation - www.acfonline.org.au

3. Local Indigenous Groups Resources:

Minerals Council of Australia -  www.minerals.org.au
Aboriginal Victoria - https://w.www.vic.gov.au/aboriginalvictoria.html
Mineral Policy Institute - www.mpi.org.au
Mining Aboriginal Lands - http://www.sbs.com.au/gold/story.php?storyid=51
Indigenous attitudes to mining - http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/earth/stories/s944864.htm

4. Government:

Power cut for big polluter Hazelwood - http://www.theage.com.au/environment/power-cut-forbig-polluter-hazelwood-20100709-1045o.html
Rudd signs Kyoto ratification document - http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/12/03/2108345.htm   












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