Australia could create hundreds of thousands of jobs by accelerating shift to zero emissions – report

Decarbonising the economy by investing in renewable energy, clean buildings, clean transport and manufacturing could help fight the recession

Hundreds of thousands of jobs could be created in Australia by hurrying the shift to zero greenhouse gas emissions, a study backed by business and investment leaders has found.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates 835,000 jobs have been lost since the coronavirus pandemic shutdown began in March. A report by Beyond Zero Emissions, an energy and climate change thinktank, says practical projects to decarbonise the economy could create 1.78m “job years” over the next five years – on average, 355,000 people in work each year – while modernising Australian industry.

Related: Seizing the moment: how Australia can build a green economy from the Covid-19 wreckage

Related: Green steel industry could secure jobs future for Australia’s coalmining heartland

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Supporting the rapid deployment of 90 gigawatts of renewable energy over five years, creating 124,000 construction jobs and 22,000 ongoing jobs, and backing the local manufacture of components including wind turbines and batteries.

Creating a “net zero energy home” standard that would require covered buildings to generate as much energy as they consume, and setting a national target to eliminate emissions from the buildings sector.

Governments to expand social housing programs to build 150,000 publicly owned, zero-emissions homes.

Creating renewable energy industrial zones in which energy-intensive manufacturers can access renewable energy at a low fixed cost.

Using government procurement policy to prioritise locally manufactured products built using low-emissions technology, and introducing a zero carbon industry strategy that could help establish renewables-powered industry such as hydrogen and green steel.

Rolling out 13,000 electric buses, replacing 30% of the existing bus fleet, and electrify 3,000km of rail track over five years.

Building or improving 5,000km of cycling lanes.

Setting a national target of 90% resource recovery, and set minimum requirements for recycled content to drive the supply of new products.

Creating 40,000 land care jobs by revegetating 27m hectares – 3.5% of Australia’s land mass – in five years and 55m hectares over a decade.

Creating a national careers institute to work out what training would be needed.

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