Seven leading climate, environment and renewable energy organisations have joined forces to call for jobs-rich climate solutions to be at the centre of Victoria’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Climate Council, Australian Conservation Foundation, World Wildlife Fund, Beyond Zero Emissions, Friends of the Earth, Australian Wind Alliance and Environment Victoria developed the paper, urging the Victorian Government to follow leading international voices calling for governments at all levels to seize the opportunity to scale up decarbonisation efforts while also boosting economic activity in response to the pandemic.
The paper calls on the Victorian Government to place climate solutions at the centre of their plans for economic recovery from the pandemic by prioritising the following areas:
- Providing clean, efficient housing for all – Australian homes are built to notoriously poor standards, with existing Victorian homes averaging just 1.8 stars. Yet there are practical steps which can be taken now including boosting on-site renewable energy, energy efficiency upgrades and switching from gas to efficient electric appliances.
- Creating an efficient, electrified Victorian manufacturing industry – Australian industry is among the most energy inefficient in the world and businesses are currently paying much more for energy than they need to. The Victorian Government should heed the call of leading union and industry voices who recognise that renewable energy technologies will drive the future of manufacturing in Australia.
- Building Victoria’s renewable energy grid – Ensuring the National Electricity Market (NEM) electricity grid infrastructure and processes are modernised to support a clean, reliable electricity system based on increasing input from variable and distributed renewable energy sources is already a pressing priority.
- Turbo-charging Victorian renewable energy generation, supply chains and jobs – Renewable energy investment is in danger of slowing down due to dropping wholesale electricity prices and supply chain constraints caused by the pandemic. Fast-tracking renewable energy development would have the additional benefit of preparing Victoria for the coming retirement of the state’s pollution-intensive and increasingly unreliable coal power stations.
- Boosting nature restoration, sustainable agriculture and bushfire recovery – The pandemic has taken attention away from the still very recent tragedy of this past summer’s devastating bushfires. The recovery plight of those communities must be remembered, and local habitat restoration and economic activity opportunities are desperately needed.
- Investing in sustainable, healthy transport – Climate solutions are urgently needed in Victoria’s transport sector because it is the second-largest source of emissions in the state and, before COVID-19, these emissions continued to increase steadily. There are opportunities to roll out smaller, faster, more distributed upgrades of particular sections of Victoria’s transport network.
Nicky Ison, WWF-Australia’s Energy Transition Manager, said Victoria is Australia’s manufacturing powerhouse, but its manufacturing businesses are some of the most energy inefficient in the developed world.
“With a targeted stimulus program, the Victorian Government could improve the efficiency of its manufacturing and accelerate its switch to renewable energy. Doing so would cut energy bills, create thousands of new jobs, reduce pollution and ensure Victoria has resilient local supply chains into the future.”
Amanda McKenzie, Chief Executive of the Climate Council, commented that the Victorian Government has a real opportunity to create thousands of clean jobs that will help the state recover from the economic shock of COVID-19, get Victorians back to work and tackle long-term problems like climate change.
“Smart, targeted government investment now in areas such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and supporting manufacturers to move away from expensive, polluting gas will help Victoria to bounce back even stronger, and ready to tackle climate challenges,” McKenzie said.
Kelly O’Shanassy, CEO, Australian Conservation Foundation, added: “We can make this recovery climate and nature positive by setting out a clear pathway to move to net-zero climate pollution and regenerate the natural environment our lives depend on. Using recovery funding to make our communities healthier and more resilient will increase the capacity of people, wildlife and nature to respond to future extreme events like bushfires and pandemics.”
The full paper, ‘Putting jobs-rich climate solutions at the centre of Victoria’s economic recovery from COVID-19’, can be found online here.