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green energy equals jobs « Previous | |Next »
June 19, 2008

The insight that the transitioning from a carbon-intensive economy into a new, clean energy economy and society could be seen as an opportunity to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other green-collar and green-professional industries appears to be missing from policy circles in Australia.

Anna Rose in theCanberra Times observes that:

Germany under chancellor Helmut Kohl set up ''feed-in'' tariffs to support the fledgling renewable energy sector in 1991. Feed-in laws mean that homes and businesses which produce a green energy surplus can feed back energy into the grid and be paid for it. When Angela Merkel took power in Germany, she kept the scheme because of the remarkable levels of job creation. More than 250,000 Germans are now employed in the renewables sector, and a booming export market has been created. Fourteen per cent of all German energy is now green. The new scheme has proven especially successful for German farmers who can convert parts of their properties to earn money for clean energy as a sideline. Victoria, South Australia, Queensland (and soon the ACT) have introduced these laws but they are very weak and the incentives will need to be strengthened to make them effective.

Rose says that other creative strategies could be pursued. So instead of the two coal-powered power stations being built in Western Australia, how about trying energy efficiency and a solar energy plant? Instead of a pulp mill in Tasmania, why not consider a silicon plant to produce silicon for solar panels?

Why not indeed? The political talk is about the big significance of climate change for Australia whilst the action is minimal. They let Australian innovation on solar power go overseas to California and Nevada and then, a couple of years latter, visit the plant and come back spruiking solar plant for their state. The classic example is the new Las Vegas factory for Ausra — the solar thermal technology company founded by former Sydney University professor Dr David Mills.

So why not foster green production in Australia? Treasury rejects the infant industry argument? The coal industry is still calling the shots? They are sitting back sit back and waiting for the market to fix things? They have bought the job loses argument from the intensive energy users.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:53 AM | | Comments (2)


Indeed. We had high hopes for a new approach to climate change, following the defeat of the Howard government. Guy Pearse's book "High and Dry" documented the prevailing climate change denialist theme - of that government.
Kevin Rudd has made all the right WORDS on climate change - but we seem to be left with the same old ACTIONS - bowing to the fossil fuel corporations, as before.
Christina Macpherson

I have to agree with you re actions. I wish it wasn't so. The best that I can hope for is that they are waiting for the report on emissions trading from Ross Garnaut before they act.

Even so all the signs point to them easing themselves into pricing carbon ever so gently.