Working Australians will be hit hard by inaction on climate change and urgent action is needed says the ACTU.

Professor Garnaut’s report released today estimates working Australians will face job losses in key industries, including agriculture and tourism, as well as wage cuts of between 7.8% and 14.8% depending on the severity of climate change-induced drought.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said:

“Climate change is the social and economic challenge of our times and the ACTU calls on business to accept a share of the responsibility along with the rest of the community.

“Doing nothing is not an option. Urgent action is needed to avert the impending disaster of climate change.

“Everyone will be affected and all of us must pull our weight.

“Working Australians and families need support to make our workplaces and our homes more climate-friendly.

“Business also needs to pull its weight and do its share to reduce greenhouse emissions and deal with climate change.

“It is inevitable that the costs of petrol and energy will rise but we must soften the blow on working households and those on low incomes.

“We need to protect vulnerable families and trade-exposed industries but we also need to recognise that green jobs and climate-friendly industries provide Australia with economic opportunities.

“If European nations can reduce emissions, plan for deep emission cuts by 2020 and grow their economy so can Australia.

“Unions call on responsible sectors of business to support Professor Garnaut’s report and work with governments, unions and the community to grow green jobs, green our workplaces and put measures in place to ensure a just transition for families and industry to a low-carbon future.

“The ACTU supports a broadly based emissions trading scheme. We urge governments to ensure industry support is based on transparent evidence-based benchmarks with requirements to ensure emission reductions are met over time,” said Ms Burrow.