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Why wouldn't we want to embrace this win-win opportunity?The Australian Government can choose whether to remain down the deep, dark coal mine of the past, or change course to become part of today's climate and energy solutions, and help create a brighter future for Australia and the rest of the world.Over the past year, the coal industry has become increasingly strident in mounting its case that coal is the beacon of hope for the more than one billion people living in poverty who still lack access to electricity.
The prohibitive cost of grid extensions, coupled with buying grid-based electricity, eliminates the cost advantage that coal may otherwise have.The remoteness and poor transport reduced people's access to employment and other economic opportunities.On the other hand, renewable energy has proven to be a catalyst for jobs, local economic growth and a more equitable model of development around the world.In India, the coal-rich states have some of the lowest rates of electricity access in the country.
Local renewable energy sources - such as mini-grid and off-grid solutions like as small-scale solar PV and wind - not only offer a more affordable and practical solution for many communities, they are free of many other devastating impacts associated with coal.
Coal consumption in China fell 2.9 per cent in 2014 and has continued to fall precipitously through 2015 as the country funnels billions of dollars into renewable energy.