The Jobs and Skills Summit in Canberra brought together people from unions, businesses, civil society and governments to chart a course for Australia’s economic future. ACF CEO Kelly O’Shanassy was in the room and said, "there was not one mention of coal and gas. The whole conversation was about renewable energy and exports.”

Global markets are moving towards renewable energy and Australia can unlock thousands of jobs, including here in Central Queensland. With our abundant sun and wind and skilled workforce, we can make enough energy to power homes here and have plenty leftover to sell overseas.

Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen reiterated this week, “The dividends for our country could be enormous. Now we’ve got to get on with it. Build the renewables, build the transmission, build the storage – and then build it more so we can export it to the world.”¹

Renewable exports are also an excellent climate solution. Economist Ross Garnaut told the room that if Australia seizes the renewable energy opportunity now, it could reduce global emissions by 7%. He also said that we are "better placed than any other country" to do it.²

While this is welcome news for all of us who want urgent climate action, what does this all mean for the future of our communities in Central Queensland?

Switching from coal and gas to renewable energy will drastically change our towns. Already industry giants like Twiggy Forrest and Rio Tinto have announced plans to bring big renewable projects to Gladstone.

But right now we don’t know how many jobs these new industries will bring, how much they will pay or if they will even be reserved for locals. These are decisions we simply can’t afford to leave with billionaires and giant corporations.³

If we come together as a community we can prepare and have a say about how our future looks. Together we can guarantee housing prices, cost of living and good jobs today and for the next generation.

In alliance with local unions and faith groups, ACF Gladstone and I are trying to have as many group conversations with locals about what our community wants. That way we can make a powerful case for government and business to follow. But we’ll only be successful if enough of us speak out.

If you're a Gladstone local​, book a time to join a group conversation and help guarantee a strong future for our town.

book a time

We know renewable industries are coming, so let’s plan for it. Together let’s break the cycles of boom and bust to chart a brighter course for the future of our communities.

Together let’s seize the renewable energy opportunity for a better future for Gladstone.

 

¹ ACF ‘Act now to create a renewable export industry

² 9News ‘Australia's energy 'superpower transformation' could reduce global emissions by 7 per cent'

³ Triple J ‘Who’s Gonna Save us? Episode 03 The Switch’ – this podcast covers the on-the-ground situation here in Gladstone and I highly recommend you give it a listen! Jade and I from ACF Gladstone both gave interviews for it.

 

Header image: Pop and Zebra

 

Jaclyn McCosker

Climate and Energy Campaigner, Australian Conservation Foundation