As Australia transitions out of coal and into clean energy it’s time to think of the future for the 8000 workers currently employed in Australia’s coal-fired power industry, plus the estimated 18,000 jobs dependent on the sector.
According to the University of New South Wales’ business school’s recent report on coal power transition, commissioned by the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union we could do worse than use the model provided by Germany’s Ruhr coal region where investment in new industries led to no redundancies. The report also calls for an independent statutory authority to oversee coal plant closures and support workers to find new jobs.
It supports a gradual phasing out of coal power work, including transferring workers out of retiring coal power stations to others that are shutting down later. However, it also supports “green job” creation and floats the idea of building renewable electricity generation infrastructure at or near retired coal-fired plants to “encourage transitioning workers to be part of this high growth industry”.
Speaking at the National Press Club last week, chief executive officer of the Australian Conservation Foundation chief executive Kelly O’Shanassy encouraged a national transition plan and welcomed the establishment of an independent transition authority.
“Good people work in these industries, they need a steady, well paid job to provide for their families,” she said. “The absence of a strong climate policy and transition plan abandons these people in the face of the inevitable change already underway.”
Also last week, chief executive of International Council on Mining and Metals Tom Butler welcomed the shift to renewables and touted the role of the mining industry in this transition.
He said we would need significant new mining investment in Australia to meet skyrocketing global demand for materials used in renewables such lithium and copper.
“Our materials will be critical to enabling the decarbonisation of the planet,” Mr Butler told Fairfax Media ahead of the International Mining and Resources Conference last Tuesday.
“The mining sector has a critical role to play in the sustainability effort. We can choose whether to be a leader or follow in that.”
The Clean Energy Finance Corporation echoed this sentiment in its annual report released last week, flagging Australia’s opportunity to provide the raw materials to meet the rising demand for electric vehicles around the world.
On that note, here are our pick of the jobs this week:
Golden Plains Shire Council, located outside of Geelong, is looking for a new environment and sustainability team leader to develop and implement sustainability and natural resource management programs and strategies.
CPB Contractors need a new sustainability manager to manage and lead the sustainability performance for one of the construction company’s major Sydney projects.
Sydney Airport is seeking a head of sustainability to lead the airport’s sustainability strategy.
Northern Resource Consultants, based in Townsville, need an environment consultant to service a range of mining and energy companies, property development companies and government agencies.