A new report finds that climate change is both a challenge and an opportunity for workers in industries like electricity, water services, and local government which the Australian Services Union represents.

Unions are strongly pushing for Australia to become a world leader in responding to climate change by developing green industries that could create up to a million ‘green collar’ jobs by 2030 and billions of dollars in export earnings.

Releasing a new report today on the impact of climate change, Greg McLean of the ASU said:

“Our members work in diverse occupations – from truck drivers to beach inspectors, from administrative, social and community services and public transport in local councils and municipalities to checking-in for airlines, in electricity generation and distribution and in the nation’s water authorities. 

“The ASU believes that practical action must be planned and implemented to assist our members and their industries to prepare for the future.

“As the impact of climate change is addressed, there will be new jobs and types of work in some industries where ASU members are currently employed.

“In some cases there will be entirely new technologies for existing jobs. In others, there will be new work activities related to reducing energy intensity and therefore reducing emissions.

“The ASU’s assessment is that the number of jobs in public transportation and the provision of public services by local government, including utilities such as electricity and water supply and waste and recycling collections and management, will have to increase significantly if Australia is to respond effectively to the challenges of climate change.

“Government leadership, regulation and publicly-funded service provision are needed to plan for these impacts. In our view, quality public services and the people that provide them are most likely to provide the leadership and solutions required to address climate change,” said Mr McLean.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow says government policy settings and private investment are needed immediately to reach a target of nearly a million green jobs by 2030.

Based on an analysis of 30 green industries globally, a recent report by the ACTU and ACF says Australia should focus on six sectors: renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable water industries, biomaterials, green buildings and waste recycling.

“By establishing a strong domestic market in these sectors, Australia will also develop the skills and expertise necessary to compete in the international green energy market which is currently worth $US1.4 trillion dollars. We can’t afford to miss the boat,” says Ms Burrow.

Quality public services – opportunities to address climate change in Australia >
Green Gold Rush: How ambitious environmental policy can make Australia a leader in the global race for green jobs >

Greg McLean (ASU) 0419 796 801
Amanda Tattam (ACTU) 0418 479 455