Economic Crisis needs a green response: Green Jobs

Action to tackle climate change and action to tackle the global economic crisis are not incompatible.

In fact, with the right policy settings, we can approach global warming as an opportunity to create massive economic reform, new industries and jobs and sustainable growth.

One of the major lessons of the global financial meltdown is that a strong economy is based on investment in real and sustainable jobs, not short-term speculation and risk-taking.

The Global Financial Crisis has presented a once-in-a-generation window to reform our economic thinking around generating growth of decent and secure jobs providing secure employment, fair wages and rights for working people.

This is all encapsulated in the International Labour Organisation’s Global Jobs Pact, negotiated in Geneva in mid-June. It proposes a range of crisis response measures that countries can adapt to their specific needs and situation, including a shift to a low-carbon, environmentally friendly economy that will help accelerate the jobs recovery.

There is potential for extraordinary growth in new green markets. The global ‘low carbon and environmental goods’ sector is now valued at A$6.1 trillion, and nations like China and the US are spending hundreds of billions on renewable energy and related construction, products and services.

The Green New Deal statement by the ACTU, ACF, ACOSS and others called for three-pronged approach to stimulate the economy and tackle climate change:

  • Roll-out a nationwide building retrofitting program for residential, commercial and public buildings
  • Bringing forward infrastructure investment in assets that reduce the carbon footprint
  • Make green jobs a centerpiece of economic and industry policy.

Last year’s Green Gold Rush report by the ACTU and the ACF forecast Australia could have 850,000 green jobs by 2030. We have now revised that upwards to about 1 million in the next few decades. Green Gold Rush concluded that Australia’s best bets are in six sectors:

  • renewable energy
  • energy efficiency
  • sustainable water systems
  • biomaterials
  • green buildings
  • waste and recycling

Other crucial pieces of the jigsaw are for the Government’s legislation for the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme to be passed by the Senate and the implementation of the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET). In holding up the CPRS the Coalition parties are preventing the investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in clean energy jobs.

Delivering on decent and green jobs is the business of the trade union movement and for businesses, civil society and governments around the world. Sustainable recovery and sustainable development is our goal.

It’s a big challenge. A big call. It’s our job to get on with it.