The US Secret Service spends a lot of time thinking about how to keep the people they protect alive. Overall, they’re pretty good at it. I remember reading an interview with one of them once, where she emphasised one of the core things.
If you are being attacked, do NOT focus on winning the fire fight. Get your asset/package OUT of the kill zone. That’s what victory is.
I think the same logic applies to the coal industry in Australia. The last thing they wanted in the early 1990s was to have a stand –up row with environmentalists about carbon emissions. For one thing, it would keep the issue “hot.”
For another, the mining industry’s utter intransigence on Aboriginal Land rights (“Shrinking Australia” etc) had made it a pariah. It had zero credibility, and was basically walking around with a sign that said “kick me” stuck to its back.
And therefore the thing it wanted to protect (the plans for ever-growing coal exports) would be sitting there in the kill-zone.
Instead, then, despite it being intensely irritating, get the issue off the table by bogging it down in the Industry Commission this, the ESD that, the Resource Allocation Commission the other. Set up some elite lobbying outfits like the AIGN. Don’t fight on the science – that’s the pariah-zone.
In this they were helped mightily by bureaucrats and politicians who were VERY pro-coal (which they perceived as a way of Australia paying its way in the world).
Of course, I am imposing retrospective logic on events, that the participants would only have felt lightly if at all. But the smarter among them would have figured out – when you are in a hole, stop digging.