23 June 2020

Professor John Quiggin has published a report on the end of coal in Australia, concluding: “A fair and orderly phase-out of thermal coal from Australia’s economy is both essential and economically feasible. Australia can end its production and use of thermal coal by 2030, while protecting the interests of workers and communities, at a very modest cost. The costs of not acting, by contrast, are both huge and obvious.” The report is not only focussed on energy production, but on the lives of communities most at risk of disruption in the transition. Quiggin notes that over the life of comparable projects, renewables generate more jobs than coal, so “fears about the impact of a shift to renewables are misplaced as regards the national economy. However, it is of little comfort to coal-dependent communities that job losses in their region may be matched by gains elsewhere.” Fortunately, the communities most reliant on coal employment are well placed to transition to renewables, particularly solar, and tourism — as long as the government takes control of the process and plans for a just transition.