A coalition of social, union, environmental and research organisations today said the federal government’s clean energy future plan would provide unprecedented investment in Australia’s renewable energy resources and energy efficiency, with the potential for major job creation, especially in Queensland.
The Southern Cross Climate Coalition, comprising The Australian Conservation Foundation, The Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Australian Council of Social Services and The Climate Institute, made the claims in an analysis that also urges the federal government to release measures to meet Australia’s international climate finance obligations, in advance of the next round of climate negotiations in Durban in December.
The SCCC said the government could stop up to 1.1 billion tonnes of pollution between now and 2020, while delivering more than $4.5 billion a year to households – a combination of increased payments and tax cuts.
The clean energy future plan would provide “unprecedented investment to unlock Australia’s world class renewable energy resources and drive much greater action in energy efficiency, with the potential to create tens of thousands of new clean energy jobs,” The SCCC said.
It said the package also safeguards workers in emissions-intensive industries through targeted assistance to trade-exposed industries.
This assistance would help traditional industries remain competitive while providing an investment signal to adopt best practice clean technologies.
Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney said the plan would help all Australian workers be part of a clean energy, low pollution economy with existing jobs protected and new ones created.
Australian Council of Social Services chief executive officer, Cassandra Goldie said: “We have some concerns about the adequacy of assistance for those on the lowest incomes, initially and over time, and will closely monitor the detail of legislation and implementation.
“Investments in energy efficiency are a useful start to helping low income households minimise their bill. We’ll be working to maximise the employment opportunities in a cleaner economy”.
The Climate Institute CEO, John Connor, said: “The pollution tax is targeted at the boardroom table, not the kitchen table. It provides our 500 biggest polluters with an incentive to cut emissions, while allowing tax breaks and cash payments to households.”
The plan includes more than $13.3 billion over four years to help Australian industry and workers adjust to the carbon price.
The SCCC analysis believes the two most important things Australia can do to support an effective global response to climate change is to get on with the job of cutting its own pollution while increasing support to developing countries to reduce their dependence on pollution.
Globally, the clean energy industry presents significant opportunities, with a record $243 billion invested in 2010 and as many as three million people employed in the renewables sector.
Queensland solar energy boost
The SCCC predicts the proposed $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation, to be funded with revenue from the carbon price, has the potential to help unlock Queensland’s abundant solar energy resources – providing new job opportunities in regional areas.
Australian Conservation Foundation CEO, Don Henry said in a statement: “This plan provides the foundation for Australia to start doing our bit in the global effort to tackle climate change and protecting national icons like the Great Barrier Reef.”
If well designed, with the right investment mandate, the corporation had the potential to see emerging large-scale renewable energy technologies deployed much earlier than would occur through market drivers alone, he said.
Thanks for reading to the end of this story!
We would be grateful if you would consider joining as a member of The EB Circle. This helps to keep our stories and resources free for all, and it also supports independent journalism dedicated to sustainable development. For a small donation of S$60 a year, your help would make such a big difference.