Solutions: Green Jobs and Economy

Standard Page - 6 October, 2011
Despite coal’s historical importance to Australia, we now have new opportunities to ensure our future prosperity.

Coal-fired electricity needs to be phased out because it is the largest source of climate pollution. It also makes economic sense. Australia has the natural assets and technical know-how to lead the world in renewable energy. We just lack the political will.

Greenpeace's report [PDF 1.5MB] shows how to create millions of new jobs worldwide. In fact, our Australian Energy Revolution would create a workforce in clean, renewable energy tens of thousands strong. It’s a positive thought when mining companies are laying off workers by the thousands.

Government support to develop a skilled ‘green’ workforce through investment in training programs and apprenticeships will be essential. Coal communities, with this assistance, can make a just and fair transition out of polluting electricity and into renewable power.

An Energy [R]evolution benefits workers, the economy and Australia’s climate. What’s not to love?

As the world turns against coal’s dirty emissions, the time is ripe to embrace better energy sources (or risk being left literally high and dry).

New green collar jobs

Changing the way we power Australia requires a major shift in our economy. ‘Just Transitions’ shows that this can happen with more gain than pain.

The Greenpeace Just Transitions report [PDF 770kb] is a roadmap for supporting coal workers and coal communities through the shift to renewable technologies.

The Hunter/Wyong region of New South Wales has been dependent on coal for employment for many years. The report outlines major benefits to this region through the Energy [R]evolution, including thousands of new, secure, well-paid jobs in the research, design, manufacture, installation, maintenance and export of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.

Clean renewable energy would create between 7,500 and 14,300 new jobs economy in the Hunter/Wyong region alone – a net gain of between 3,900 and 10,650 jobs.

The myth of carbon capture and storage (CCS)

You wouldn’t invest your life savings in an untested technology, would you? The Australian government is gambling our climate future and taxes on carbon capture and storage (CCS), a speculative technology that aims to ‘catch’ carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. The idea is that emissions are compressed, transported and buried deep underground somewhere.

Unfortunately, CCS technology doesn’t exist and probably won’t be viable for decades. Even Dr David Brockway, the head of the government’s own scientific body, has stated that we are unlikely to see CCS on a commercial scale before 2024. By then it will be too late to save the climate, even it if does work.

CCS is also referred to as ‘clean coal’- a total misnomer. It is an excuse for our government and big polluters to avoid the reality that coal is the fuel of the past and needs to be phased out and replaced with renewable energy.

We don’t need to invest in an untested pipe dream like CCS. Natural and clean solutions already exist and are being used around the world.

Further reading

  • Job Creation: the case for a national feed-in tariff [PDF; 4MB]