OPINION

Stronger climate action means more regional jobs

Stronger climate action means more regional jobs

Globally, the heat is rising on the Morrison government to implement credible climate and clean energy policies.

US President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to spend $2 trillion on clean energy and climate action over the next four years - a strong climate agenda which will be made easier now that the Democrats are set to have control over the US Senate.

This follows China, South Korea and Japan all announcing plans to become net-zero emitters in the coming decades.

Even the federal government's own Energy Security Board this week called for national policy certainty, so that the energy transition can proceed smoothly and the lights stay on as cheaper solar and wind energy pushes ageing coal-fired power stations from the market.

For years the "energy wars" have stalled Australia's progress on reducing emissions, but the conversation is changing because renewable energy can now power our grid cheaper and cleaner than before while driving much-needed regional employment.

New data from Solar Citizens shows that in Queensland, a fast-tracked energy transition could create an extra 22,000 construction and installation job years by 2030 compared with business as usual.

A fair share of these jobs would be concentrated in the Darling Downs, central and far north Queensland.

In total, turbocharging Queensland's rollout of renewable energy could see 44,000 clean energy job years created in the installation of solar, wind and distributed storage by 2030, as well as an additional 2000 jobs in operations and maintenance.

And this is just the beginning: we could have a prosperous future in a low-carbon world by using impressive solar and wind resources to manufacture renewable hydrogen for use in new local industries and for export.

Other countries that will soon have a high demand for products like low-carbon hydrogen, steel and aluminium don't have the same clean energy resources and available space.

Cheap renewable energy and the production of low-carbon commodities should be one of the main competitive advantages moving forward.

But to capitalise on these opportunities, we need the Morrison government to stop creating investment uncertainty by failing to deliver a credible climate and energy plan for Australia.

We're turning into a global embarrassment when we have the power to be a global leader.

Stephanie Gray is Solar Citizens energy strategist.

This story Stronger climate action means more regional jobs first appeared on The Canberra Times.