Climate change action means thousands of new jobs

Media Release - Climate Institute
Wednesday, 04 November 2009

Up to a million new jobs could be created over the next 20 years if Australia's politicians and business leaders adopt strong policy action to combat climate change, a coalition of union, environment and social service groups told a public forum in Brisbane today.

"Queensland's economic opportunities will be significant if Australia can begin moving to a low carbon economy as soon as possible," said ACTU President Sharan Burrow. Mining jobs in Queensland will continue to grow but we'll get a safer mix of jobs and opportunities by taking climate and clean energy action."

Australia is one of the developed countries most vulnerable to impacts of climate change which threaten our reefs, rivers and bio-diversity.

"Natural icons like the Great Barrier Reef, the Wet Tropics and Queensland's coasts are under threat from climate change," said Australian Conservation Foundation executive director, Don Henry.

The forum, organised by the South Cross Climate Coalition (SCCC)*, says Australia could excel in six key industries: renewable energy (such as wind and solar), energy efficiency, production of bio-materials (eg plastic from plant starch), "green" buildings (less energy and water use), sustainable water systems, and waste and recycling.

However a strengthened Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) and extra policies on energy efficiency and developing clean energy, clean technology industries will be essential to the task of building jobs and profits in these industries.

"The vote on an effective emissions trading scheme in the federal parliament in coming weeks will be crucial if Australia is to unlock billions of investment dollars needed to drive the transformation to a low carbon economy and create hundreds of thousands of jobs," said The Climate Institute CEO John Connor.

""A low-carbon economy will have economic and social benefits for all Australians. Investment in clean energy industries is increasing demand for workers with green skills, said Clare Martin, CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service. "With unemployment in some parts of Queensland over 10%, local jobless people will benefit from clean energy jobs and training opportunities."

All credible research shows that Queensland mining jobs will continue even with significant emissions reduction and that there were additional opportunities to grow clean energy jobs. The Climate Institute's analysis found that, with strengthened policies, there will be investments of 2.6 billion in renewable energy capacity in Queensland.

"It's time for the dinosaurs in politics and business to evolve and stop blocking the industries and jobs which will cut the greenhouse gases harming our environment," said Connor.

(* The Southern Cross Climate Coalition comprises the ACTU, the Aust Conservation Foundation, the Climate Institute, WWF & ACOSS)