ASU sees climate change becoming an economy saver

The bitter lessons of climate change have never been more evident than the past few months. Firestorms in a drought ravaged Victoria and floods in Queensland are evidence of extreme weather behaviour that appears here to stay.

Climate change is going to be a severe challenge for every part of Australian society, including Local Government.

The Australian Services Union has opted to take a different look at climate change focusing on taking economic advantage of the shift. It has prepared a discussion paper suggesting that as world financial markets continue to plummet, Australia could be thrown an economic lifeline through major employment growth in areas such as water services, waste recycling, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The Federal Government has announced $300 million dollars in funding for Local Government that could be used to further develop and maintain ‘green’ public services, all of which could boost the economy by creating thousands of new jobs.

Assistant National Secretary, Greg Mclean, said the $300 million dollars should be earmarked to create long term ‘green’ jobs in local public services. He believes localised, renewable energy solutions could lead the way in power generation and provide carbon neutral cities.

It means the use of domestic water recycling to take advantage of the vast, under utilised water resources that fall onto the roofs of buildings and flush down to provide emissions reduction leadership on waste collection and disposal.

The paper argues that increased investment in public transport infrastructure, including railway infrastructure, bus interchanges and dedicated lanes and light rail services are also essential to help cut greenhouse gases.

Other groups, such as the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), have also recognised that Australia could become a world leader in creating green industries generating up to a
million green collar jobs by 2030 and multi billion dollar export opportunities in green technology.

ACF’s recent paper ‘The Green Gold Rush: How ambitious environmental policy can make Australia a leader in the global race for green jobs’ outlines some startling trends:

  • global green markets are projected to double from $US1.4 trillion a year today to $US2.7 trillion by 2020
  • in 2007, institutional and private equity investors allocated $US73 billion in funds to green equity investments
  • green industries are forecast to make up 11 per cent of global venture capital investment this year, exceeding $US3 billion
  • sustainable energy accounted for 23 per cent of new power capacity globally in 2007. The global capacity of renewable energy is 240 giga Watts (GW) and is growing on average by 15 per cent a year
  • more than $US148 billion in new funding entered the renewable energy sector globally in 2007, up 60 per cent from 2006. Main points of investment were Europe, the US, China, India and Brazil
  • the renewable energy sector already employs about 2.3 million people globally.

The ASU discussion paper is available at www.asu.asn.au/media/climate-change-paper18nov08.pdf.