Reality Check on Coal – Less value, more harm

The Australian coal industry’s contribution to the economy is rapidly shrinking – even as its contribution towards global warming is spiralling out of control.

1 May 2016


The coal industry claims to be an indispensable part of the economy and labour market, but the truth is very different.

Although the amount of coal Australia produces continues to increase, albeit slower than expected, its economic contribution and significance to Australia’s economy is diminishing rapidly. For every tonne of coal produced Australia is receiving less income, fewer jobs, and lower royalties and taxes. The industry’s contribution to the national GDP has dropped by 55% since 2008/9.

As production of Australian coal increases, so too does the environmental harm. On current projections, the carbon emissions exported in Australian coal will soon overtake the carbon exported in Saudi Arabian oil. Even if Australia meets the 2030 domestic emissions reduction commitment it made in the Paris agreement, the carbon saved will be wiped out seven times over by increased coal exports.