Last week, Greenpeace released a report calling for a halt to Australia’s burgeoning coal exports and pointing to the catastrophic climate impacts they would cause. In response, Mitch Hooke, chief executive of the Minerals Council of Australia, took a standard industry line: “the proposal to stop Australian coal exports won’t stop global coal use – it will just send Australian jobs offshore and deprive state and federal governments of billions in revenue”. Arguments that the strength of the Australian economy is heavily dependent on digging up and shipping out as much coal as possible, as quickly as possible, are common. Of course, they also imply that economic arguments trump any concerns about contributions to climate change. But leaving that aside, how true is it? Would slowing or halting Australia’s coal exports really deprive Australians? What would it mean for Australian jobs?

Originally published by The Conversation on February 1, 2013

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