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Economic Recovery Funds For Renewables Would Create 3 Times As Many Jobs For Australia

A report by Ernst & Young says Australia could get 3 times the bang for the buck by investing stimulus funds in renewables instead of fossil fuels.

Every country in the world is struggling to reignite its economy after being devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. Many of them are proposing massive stimulus packages for fossil fuel companies, but a study by Ernst & Young, a global consulting company, finds that investing in renewable energy in Australia would create three times as many jobs as investing in oil and gas while lowering carbon emissions.

It should be an easy choice. More jobs with less pollution or fewer jobs with more pollution? Any ten-year-old could tell you which is the better way to spend taxpayer dollars, but sadly, many national leaders don’t have the same acumen as the average pre-teen. Australia in particular is in thrall to mining and other extractive industries and its government is making a push for a major expansion of the country’s natural gas industry.

The Guardian reports that Ernst & Young was retained by the World Wide Fund for Nature to recommend how best to spend economic stimulus funds. In its report, it finds that fast-tracking wind and solar farms that have already been approved, increasing electricity transmission capacity, and backing new industries in battery manufacturing, electric buses, renewable hydrogen, and manufacturing powered by renewable energy would generate three times as many jobs as the proposed natural gas boondoogle favored by the ScoMo government.

E&Y estimates that every $1 million spent on renewable energy and exports will create 4.8 full time jobs in renewable infrastructure or 4.95 jobs in energy efficiency. By comparison, $1 million spent on fossil fuel projects will create 1.7 full-time jobs. “It represents a fraction of the immediate government stimulus package while generating significant job numbers and reorienting the economy towards a more strategic, low-carbon trajectory,” the report says.

Based on the findings by Ernst & Young, the World Wildlife Fund is calling for a federal renewables stimulus package of nearly $2 billion and claiming that amount of money would result in $10 billion worth of new economic activity. $520 million would be dedicated to improving energy efficiency and increasing renewable energy in manufacturing with a goal of making Australia a global clean energy manufacturing hub.

Other recommended programs would help create manufacturing industries in batteries and electric buses and cut the cost of solar power for thousands of community organizations. The report also recommends increasing support for renewable hydrogen, which the government and industry have identified as a potential major export industry and local energy source.

Nicky Ison, energy transition manager for WWF Australia, tells The Guardian, “We think that this is a moment. The economy was struggling before the Covid crisis and it is struggling even more now, but a clean stimulus package can address issues holding back renewables and get the ball rolling on more than 100,000 jobs.”

There is little appetite for the proposals backed by the WWF among government leaders in Australia, which just goes to show that sun-drenched country is in dire need of leaders who can think at least at the 5th grade level. Most fall far short of even that goal. (Note: The US has no reason to feel smug. Its leader has the emotional age of a two year old.) In this time of international ferment, it’s time for Australian citizens to put their so-called leaders on notice that they will soon be former leaders if they don’t shape up soon.

 
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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.

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