Coal has long been a lifeblood for Australia. The country is the world’s largest exporter of metallurgical coal used to make steel, and it’s the second-largest exporter of coal for use in power generation, supplying much of Asia. Government data shows the coal industry directly and indirectly supports more than 150,000 jobs, and in recent years has contributed more than $60 billion in economic impact annually. Coal-fired generation accounts for as much as 60% of the country’s electricity, even as renewable energy’s share of electricity output continues to grow (topping 30% last year), with renewables far outpacing both gas-fired generation and hydropower.

The coal industry faces headwinds, though, as Australia joins much of the rest of the world in developing decarbonization strategies to hit climate targets—in Australia’s case, a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. The public debate about climate change has…

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