There is a sunny future ahead for workers and their communities in the renewable export industry, but it will only ever remain on the horizon unless Australia acts now.
Business, government and environment leaders met with unions last week at the Better Future Forum and committed to transforming Australia in a renewable export powerhouse.
For millions of workers, now is our key opportunity to act. The 43 per cent emission reduction target for 2030 has recently become law. But the target is just the first step.
Australia could create 395,000 new jobs and generate $89 billion in new trade by 2040 through investment in renewable energy exports. This is greater than the economic value and jobs in today’s fossil fuel exports.
The ‘Sunshot: Australia’s Opportunity to Create 395,000 Clean Export Jobs’ report shows how we can make that happen.
One of the major policies required for Australia to achieve those new jobs is a $5 billion fund for workers and regions delivered by a new energy transition authority.
The new fund would be overseen by a dedicated authority with representatives from government, industry and unions. It will help manage the disruptive impacts of the transition on workers and regions with carbon-intensive industries.
If the policies outlined in the report were achieved, the benefits for workers would be enormous.
To make sure no one is left behind in the transition process, jobs would be located across Australia.
Areas in carbon exposed industries could potentially see thousands of new jobs in clean energy. Even way outside metropolitan centres, the Outback Western Australia and Outback Queensland regions would see almost 50,000 jobs between them.
There is already international precedent for big investment in clean energy exports. Countries such as Chile and Germany have sped ahead and have made in-roads into boosting their clean export industries.
Australian workers can’t afford more denial or delay. Working people are at the front lines of the climate crisis – from firefighters, first responders, health-care workers and workers whose jobs are wrecked by climate-worsened droughts, fires and floods.
Workers in unions know that the best way to tackle climate change is when workers’ voices are front and centre. We can have secure jobs and a safe planet.