Politics, Science/Environment

‘Renewables could create 76,000 jobs and help get out of the recession’ – report

Jobs could be created in three years with a focus on 12 areas including large-scale renewable energy and electric vehicle networks

By Adam Morton – Environmental Reporter, The Guardian Australia

Nearly 80,000 jobs could be quickly created through a stimulus plan that aims to rebuild the economy from recession while tackling the climate crisis, an analysis commissioned by the Climate Council says.

The report by the consultants AlphaBeta focuses investment on 12 areas including creating large-scale renewable energy projects, restoring degraded ecosystems, better dealing with organic waste, retrofitting inefficient public buildings and expanding electric vehicle networks. Photograph: Bloomberg/Getty Images

The report by the consultants AlphaBeta says 76,000 positions could be created over three years through nearly $22bn of combined public and private investment. It focuses on 12 areas including creating large-scale renewable energy projects, restoring degraded ecosystems, better dealing with organic waste, retrofitting inefficient public buildings and expanding electric vehicle networks.

It found 70% of the jobs would be in construction and administrative support roles, 42% would be based in regional areas and nearly a third would require little training.

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The AlphaBeta work joins research commissioned by other advocacy and non-profit organisations that have proposed stimulus programs that would also cut greenhouse gas emissions rather than reinforce fossil fuel industries.

Andrew Charlton, a director with the consultancy and a former economics adviser to then prime minister Kevin Rudd, said the research highlighted stimulus projects that prioritised economic recovery, but would also leverage private investment and accelerate the shift to clean energy, a move that would reduce costs in the long-term. “If you can spend the money in that way you’re doing the taxpayer a big favour,” he said.

The analysis suggested investment in pilot-scale green hydrogen developments would be of the most benefit to the economy, yielding $4 of private spending for every public dollar invested. Large solar and wind farms would unlock $3 for every dollar spent, while electric vehicle infrastructure, improving waste collection and smaller, community-scale energy and storage projects could create $2.

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AlphaBeta said the jobs plan could be tailored to meet the different needs of states and territories. In New South Wales, the best opportunities were in building public transport infrastructure and big renewable energy plants; in Victoria, it was utility scale clean energy and organic waste management. Ecosystem restoration was identified as a leading job creator in all other states and territories, often alongside clean energy.

The result would be a cleaner Australian economy, which is currently 43% more emissions-intensive than the OECD average. The country emits more per unit of GDP than each of the European Union, Japan, the US and Canada.

Significant figures from across the community, including business leaders, unions and the welfare sector, have pushed for a green recovery from recession. Several groups have suggested work-intensive programs to improve the energy efficiency of Australia’s substandard housing and building stock. A report by Beyond Zero Emissions, an energy and climate change thinktank, found practical projects to decarbonise the economy could on average create 355,000 jobs a year for five years.

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The Morrison government has not yet made low-emissions investments a priority in its response. The energy and emissions reduction minister, Angus Taylor, called for a gas-fired recovery, and the National Covid-19 Coordinating Commission has strongly backed expanding the gas industry while giving little consideration to renewable energy, but the idea of a green recovery has won more support from some state governments.

Charlton said the AlphaBeta work differed from Beyond Zero Emissions’ report by focusing solely on what could be delivered immediately. “Our real lens here is an economic lens. How do we use the imperative to rescue the economy to support some of the long-term challenges? It’s saving the planet by saving the economy,” he said.

Amanda McKenzie, the Climate Council’s chief executive, said the AlphaBeta plan would put the country “on a practical, jobs-rich path and focuses on areas most in need”. “It sets us up for the future by creating jobs and tackling climate change,” she said. “It’s a win-win solution.”

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First published at The Guardian Australia – Tuesday 21 July 2020. See; https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jul/21/plan-that-tackles-recession-and-climate-change-could-create-80000-jobs-report-says

One Comment

  1. Call me cynical, but I wonder if Angus Taylor, or any of his commercial interests, has a connection to gas, apart from the obvious gas which he injects into federal politics.

    If, as has been suggested, fossil fuel companies are starting to see the light, commercially, where a predicted declining demand for fossil fuels is concerned, surely Scomo could contact some of his fossil mates and suggest a deal which might bring the government, and those mates, into an alignment which could benefit the economy, the environment and the planet’s inhabitants, concurrently. (Please note that the order of listing these beneficiaries is designed to appeal to Scomo, who is fixated upon his belief that the economy is more important than both the environment and the people who own the economy.)

    It seems that a reasonably intelligent drover’s dog, or a drover’s reasonably intelligent dog, could advise Scomo that fossil fuels are on the way out, and that renewables are on the way in. Scomo has a unique chance to catch the first wave, by looking for ways to retrain workers currently fearing unemployment in the slowly dying industry, and by discovering that spending stimulus money on “renewables friendly” infrastructure can liberate two birds with the one stone.

    He may say that his current priority is to rescue his precious economy from the ravages of Covid, and that’s fair enough. Even I will acknowledge that he has done a passable job, since he gave over the running of events to the state leaders, and it seems that he is slowly learning to be advised by people who actually know what they are talking about.

    However, I doubt that he has the political or personal courage to look beyond his piece of coal, to see an alternative future.

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