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“Win-win” solution to tackle Australian unemployment and climate crisis

A plan to create nearly 80,000 new jobs for Australians to help rebuild Australia’s economy and tackle the climate crisis has been put forward by analysis commissioned by the Climate Council.

After Australia’s climate crisis-fuelled bushfires, many communities are a still struggling and hundreds of thousands of Australians are unemployed due to Covid-19. All the while, Australia continues to emit more CO2 per unit of GDP than the EU, Japan, the US and Canada and continues to aggressively back the fossil fuel industry.

Australia’s National Covid-19 Coordinating Commission is strongly backing expanding the gas industry, despite all the evidence pointing to a recovery fuelled by green investments. This is likely due to government backed advisors on the commission having considerable financial investments within the gas industry.

The report by consultants AlphaBeta says 76,000 positions could be created over three years through nearly AUS$22 billion (£11.7bn) of combined public and private investment. If the government heeds this advice, Australia would have a considerably cleaner economy, which is currently 43% more emissions-intensive than the OECD average.

The analysis focuses on 12 areas including creating large-scale renewable energy projects, restoring degraded ecosystems, dealing with organic waste better, 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. The jobs could be tailored to meet the different needs of states and territories. For instance, 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 analysis suggested investment in pilot-scale green hydrogen developments would be of the most benefit to the economy, yielding AUS$4 (£2.13) of private spending for every public dollar invested. Large solar and windfarms would unlock AUS$3 (£1.60) for every dollar spent, while electric vehicle infrastructure, improving waste collection and smaller, community-scale energy and storage projects could create AUS$2 (£1.07).

The report is not alone in pushing Australia towards a clean energy transition. Businesses, unions and green groups have pushed hard for a green recovery which could take Australia out of recession. A report by energy and climate change thinktank Beyond Zero Emissions, found practical projects to decarbonise the economy could on average create 355,000 jobs a year for five years.

Amanda McKenzie, the Climate Council’s chief executive, said the AlphaBeta plan puts 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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