A clean stimulus package could generate over 100,000 jobs and rebuild Australia’s economy post COVID-19, according to a new report commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia and prepared by EY (formerly Ernst & Young).
The “Australia renewable export COVID-19 recovery package” report says an economic rebuild based on renewables could reinvigorate local manufacturing, grow existing sectors and unlock new industries, increase exports, reskill our workforce, reduce carbon pollution and improve health.
It highlights that every dollar of stimulus spent on clean projects generates nearly three times as many jobs per dollar than investment in fossil fuel projects.
Specific actions to support renewables would be a major shot in the arm to employment and would help future-proof our economy.
The job-creating measures are:
• 50,000 jobs from bringing forward wind and solar projects which are already approved
• 8,000 jobs from increasing capacity on Australia’s congested transmission network, and
• 45,000 jobs from using renewable energy to slash manufacturing costs, positioning Australia as a leading battery producer, producing electric buses to transform public transport, boosting local solar, and accelerating renewable hydrogen.
Those 45,000 jobs could be created by a $2 billion federal government renewables stimulus package that would generate economic benefits of nearly $10 billion, as detailed by WWF in a separate report “Delivering economic stimulus through renewables”. Both reports can be read here.
“We can rebuild our economy in a way that sets up Australia for prosperity in a world hungry for a low-carbon future,” said Nicky Ison - WWF-Australia Energy Transition Manager.
“Locally-built electric buses, battery factories in the regions, clean energy turbocharging the competitiveness of our manufacturing and food processing sectors, and renewable hydrogen produced in Australia powering industry here and overseas – these are just some of the opportunities.
“A clean stimulus package can address issues holding back renewables and get the ball rolling on more than 100,000 jobs.
“WWF-Australia calls on all levels of government to support this stimulus package,” said Ms Ison.
A renewables-led economic rebuild would re-employ people across industries which suffered some of the largest job losses – construction, professional, scientific and technical services, and manufacturing – and provide work in Indigenous communities.
Renewable energy could rebuild the Australian economy by focusing on:
• Reimagining our manufacturing and export industries to increase competitiveness, including manufacturing low-carbon technologies locally, electrifying and reducing GHG emissions from existing manufacturing and manufacturing and exporting green hydrogen
• Incentivising renewable electricity generation, transmission and storage, and energy exports, including increasing community rooftop solar photovoltaics (PV), improving local and international transmission and distribution of electricity and improving distributed storage of electricity
• Directing infrastructure investment towards zero carbon activities including building renovation and retrofitting of State and Federal infrastructure
• Rethinking and decarbonising transport, including constructing infrastructure to enable public transport, government fleet vehicles, and private vehicles to run on electricity
• Investing in Australian research, training, innovation and technology, including investing in data-driven renewables solutions and innovation and supporting renewable energy upskilling and education opportunities
• Regulatory and government driven climate action, including implementing a 2050 net-zero emissions trajectory and target.
It’s not just jobs, and helping to meet emissions commitments, that flow from a renewables stimulus. There are major health benefits in a low carbon future. Covid-19 shutdowns have seen a reduction in pollution and significant improvements in air and water quality. Air pollution is one of the world’s leading risk factors for death, and evidence suggests long-term exposure can impact other aspects of health and wellbeing, including early childhood cognitive function.
“People have now experienced what a clean future could look like. We have the opportunity to invest in renewable energy to ensure that in the years ahead this becomes our reality, rather than a freak occurrence because of a global pandemic.
“Secure jobs, cleaner air, improved health and a nation envied as a world leader in renewables – they are all within our grasp. Australians will prosper and thrive under a renewables-led recovery,” said Ms Ison.
The push for a clean stimulus package is the first step towards WWF’s priority of making Australia a renewable export powerhouse.