We must get green jobs and keep the change
This week’s Rio+20 Summit must propel Australia into a better model of city planning through building new opportunities for green jobs. As the government’s lax commitment to various solar power schemes shows, Australia is not giving the issue of green jobs the attention it deserves.
The United Nations estimates the number of green jobs worldwide will increase to over 18 million by 2030. This is heartening news.
It means that every year 750,000 new green jobs will be created if distributed equally. Of these, 59 per cent will be within biofuel and related industries, and 31 per cent from solar power generation.
While there is some contention about what exactly a ‘green job’ is, there is no doubt Australia is lagging behind the rest of the world. Green jobs are defined simply as those with an overall net positive environmental effect. These jobs are ‘greener’ than the status quo and can include solar power, insulation installation and even biofuels research.
At the peak of the Solar Homes and Communities Plan there were 3200 jobs in the solar power industry. This quickly began to diminish following a waning commitment.
In Australia a single, albeit major, roadblock remains. The ideological pillars that divide our federal and state governments block real progress and change. The frequency with which sustainable thought is bundled in with the carbon tax diverts attention away from substantive issues.
Our state governments are largely responsible for essential services delivery that affects our daily lives. Services such as electricity, water, natural gas, telephone lines and Internet delivery as well as our roads are all in the hands of our states. The absence of any substantive state government representation echoes loudly, speaking volumes about the lack of serious commitment. The absence of state premiers says even more.
This may lead to Australians thinking their governments have abandoned Rio+20 as a platform for sustainable change. At least Prime Minister Julia Gillard will attend.
When the Gillard Government announced the solar power scheme this apparent lack of committment looked set to change.
The Solar Homes and Communities Plan had aims of reducing energy use, saving money on power bills and most importantly, growing the Australian solar power industry. Rebates of $8000 and payment for electricity generated were provided.
It looked like Australia was showing signs of commitment to a sustainable future. A replacement Solar Credits Program expanded the scope of the original program and covered business applications.
Ultimately, cutbacks did occur. Commitment did wane. In early 2011 the Australian Government reduced the solar credits multiplier, reducing incentives for individuals and business. The Government should not allow cutbacks to undermine past efforts and compromise our future.
Rio+20 should serve as a measure to harden the collective Australian commitment to sustainability. Our resolve should not waiver.
Australians might think of the United Nations as an organisation far removed from their everyday lives. The truth is that the outcomes reached at Rio+20 will direct our thinking for the next 20 years. Green jobs mean employment and a social protection floor, they mean a real chance at truly sustainable collective prosperity.
One example of how the government could reinvigorate its approach to green jobs would be through investing heavily in tertiary education. Through making funding available to existing universities and TAFEs the number of courses offering real skills-based training with an employment focus in the green jobs sector, could be markedly increased.
Green jobs represent more than a token effort at sustainability. They represent a future of decent employment for a large number of people. Ultimately, it is the people of Australia and the world that stand to gain a secured future, or have that squandered by a lack of diplomatic focus at Rio+20. Given the existing Australian commitment, more focus on green jobs is sorely needed.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…