Opponents of proper action on climate change have long claimed that a transition to cleaner energy would amount to job losses. But a safe climate and secure jobs can and must go hand in hand. The truth is climate change is union business and there are many ways for Australia to make this transition and ensure employment security for all its workers.
With this in mind, we welcome the Albanese Government’s Bill introduced into parliament to reduce emissions by 43 percent by 2030 and to reach net zero emissions by 2050. The decision is good news for workers in unions who have been campaigning to achieve Secure Jobs for a Safe Climate to meet climate targets. Union members are striving to ensure the creation of new jobs in renewable energy and a transition that sees Australian workers in reliable employment.
The climate bill is a welcome turnaround from the previous Liberal-National Government who deployed shady tactics when it came to reporting their ‘progress’ on climate action. The bill brings back some honesty and integrity to reviewing and reporting on targets.
Climate change is a big-picture problem, requiring a big-picture solution. We aim to tackle it from all sides – reducing greenhouse gas emissions overall, creating new jobs in the renewable energy sector and ensuring fair support and protections for workers transitioning out of fossil fuel industries.
The Sunshot report showed us that Australia is in a great position to pivot to a low emission future. We have a natural advantage due to our abundance of solar and wind energy, and we have the metals and minerals required for the energy transition.
Even conservative estimates present a potential $89 billion in gross value should Australia grasp clean energy opportunities. A clean energy pathway would create 395,000 jobs in 2040, benefiting mostly regional areas.
The following are just a few of the ways we can tangibly make climate action happen:
- To pursue just transition for workers and communities, a next step is for the government to develop a national transition plan.
- Around 100 years of union organising in coal mining as well as oil and gas have resulted in strong protections and good agreements for workers in these industries. We need to see the same improvements in quality and security of job in renewable energy where low paid, insecure work is still prolific.
- Workers’ voices need to be incorporated in climate and energy policy from start to finish.
We want to see a properly regulated energy sector whole-heartedly committed to the targets laid out by the Federal Labor Government. We want to see a direct transition for workers in fossil fuel industries so that nobody is left behind. We want to see more jobs – jobs with fair pay and conditions – in the renewable energy industry. We know that this can happen and that we can have a system that protects its workers and our planet.
We can have safe jobs and a safe planet. You can be a part of this by joining your union to take real climate action in your workplace.