For the umpteenth time, but not always directed to the same naysayer, coal is NOT as reliable as imagined. Renewables are NOT entirely reliable either, but they are entirely PREDICTABLE; coal is NOT.Everything I've read says that we can't operate a modern industrial economy on more than 50% renewables - even with larger and more numerous battery installations - in fact we will have blackouts and brown-outs galore. The head of Tomago Aluminium certainly seems to think the same thing.
As for the weak "Other countries burn it anyway" argument, how about Australians create the right to bear arms so that we can shoot each other, or deny girls the right to go to school or women from driving or voting, or carry out female circumcision, or invade other countries and wipe out the indigenous population (oh wait...)...as stated, the argument is weak. If we send a lump of coal overseas to be burnt to provide electricity for a region in a developing country that doesn't already have it, the benefit will be far greater to the people over there than if it was burnt here. Far greater. On the other hand we are decades ahead and are at the other end of the coal fired generation spectrum. So, if they are going to burn it, we have to make bloody sure that we don't so as well. We're smarter than that.What about Australians that can't afford electricity now? Is it any coincidence that my own state of South Australia has the highest uptake of "renewables" and also the highest domestic electricity charges in the world? There is actually large social cost; we do actually have poverty in this country you know and not all of us take comfort in knowing we're pretend banishing the imaginary carbon fairy. Not all of us can afford the middle-class boondoggle of a roof-top solar system and a battery - some of us (especially those who rent) are completely captive to the grid. You're saying it's okay to help people in India get out of poverty by burning our coal but we have a moral obligation NOT to access cheap power? Sorry, that just doesn't make any sense.
We are only responsible for 1.5% of global emissions, even if we stopped tomorrow it would have no difference to the outcome.