Climate change activists should support Australia's coal industry because if it was shut down then its customers would use dirtier, more-polluting coal from other sources, federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan says.
By selling its coal to large, developing countries such as India, Australia was reducing the effects of climate change, he said.
"From an environmental perspective we must continue to export Australian coal because 'coal ain't coals' to paraphrase John Laws," he told reporters.
Senator Canavan, who is also federal Northern Australia Minister, gave a speech in Darwin on Thursday at the South East Asia Australia Offshore and Onshore petroleum conference where he "thanked" Bob Brown for the Coalition's election win.
Queenslanders, especially those in mining communities strongly preferred the Coalition to Labor after former Greens leader Mr Brown led a convoy there to protest Indian company Adani's coal mine.
Senator Canavan has been promoting Australia sharply lifting its coal sales to India and was scathing of mining contractor Aurecon this week when it severed ties with Adani, calling them "bedwetters" who had caved in after being targeted by anti-coal activists.
"Those that want to protect the environment, those that see a reason, a need to lower carbon emissions should be absolutely supporting the high-quality coals of Australia displacing the comparatively lower energy, lower quality coals in Asia," Senator Canavan told reporters.
Australian coal was 5500-6000 kilocalories per kilogram - sometimes higher -and much more energy-rich than coal from Indonesia, India or other parts of the world, he said.
"If we were to stop exporting our coal to the rest of the world, they would still use coal," Senator Canavan said, arguing it was hypocritical for Australia to lecture other nations when it used coal for 70 per cent of its electricity.
"They would just be using coal of a lower energy content, which means they would have to burn more coal to get the same amount of electricity, which means higher global carbon emissions."
Coal-burned power plants release airborne toxins and pollutants and are regarded as a major contributor to carbon emissions and climate change, compared to natural gas and renewable energy sources.
Senator Canavan said "while climate change is very important" a bigger environmental issue in many Asian countries was air pollution caused by burning biomass such as wood, coal in unflued households or businesses and animal waste.
He pointed to Japan as a country that was heavily reliant on Australian coal and gas for energy but did not have large issues with air pollution because it is burned in modern power stations.
Australian Associated Press