Exporting clean energy will make Australia a climate leader and boost our economy with thousands of jobs. Here's how.
The clean energy future is here. Australia can become a global renewable export powerhouse in the next decade by replacing coal, gas and uranium with renewable energy and renewable-powered goods and services.
ACF — along with World Wildlife Fund, Australian Council of Trade Unions and Business Council of Australia — commissioned a new report from research firm Accenture, which shows that if Australia locks in the right policies and investment now, renewable-powered exports could add $89 billion to the Australian economy and create 395,000 future-proof jobs by 2040.
Industrial engineer. Photo: By Shutter.B/Shutterstock
A significant proportion of these new jobs could be in regional areas, many for communities that currently rely on jobs in the coal and gas industry.
Workers who face an uncertain future as the world transitions away from coal and gas could have long-term stable jobs in renewable energy exports.
Renewable-powered exports are products and services that we can use and benefit from in Australia, as well as sell to the rest of the world. If Australia acts now, we can establish ourselves as a leader and reliable trading partner to reap the benefits of major economies quickly shifting to net-zero emissions.
More than half of the new jobs created by renewable exports are in mining, manufacturing and professional services, and are stable highly skilled jobs. 80% of these jobs will offer permanent full-time or part-time employment.
Clean exports will also create equal opportunities across qualification levels: 31% of jobs won’t require a post-school qualification, 31% will need a Cert III and 34% will need a Bachelor degree and above.
Breakdown of clean export jobs by sector.
Of the 395,000 new jobs a large number of these could be in regions that currently employ a high percentage of coal and gas workers, regions like the Hunter Valley, Central QLD, Newcastle, Illawarra, Latrobe- Gippsland as well as regional WA and regional SA.
The report calls for a $5 billion fund managed by a new energy transitions authority which would be made up of stakeholders like government, industry unions and First Nations people to help manage the impacts of transition on workers and regions with carbon-intensive industries.
Transitioning our economy off coal and gas to clean energy exports doesn’t mean coal and gas communities will be left behind. It means creating a future where every worker will thrive.
Through renewable-powered exports, Australia can increase our impact in the fight to rapidly reduce carbon emissions for a safe climate future. The report shows that if we invest in renewable energy-related research and education, we can train the workforce that will be required to scale new renewable industries at home and globally.
Australia’s biggest climate contribution is currently through our exporters: we’re the third biggest exporter of fossil fuels in the world. But we’re also one of the sunniest, windiest countries in the world. We can produce all the energy we need to power our lives with renewables and have enough leftover to sell to our neighbours.
We need to make a choice — should our governments continue to fund polluting industries like coal and gas that are on their way out or renewable energy that helps future-proof the economy and keep climate change in check?
We’ve got the tools and talent to get the job done. Let’s get on with it!
Header image. Wind farm engineer. Photo: Serts istock