National feed-in tariff good for jobs and renewables



Solar energy

Credit: Clipart

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A national feed-in tariff is the way to go to create thousands of Australian jobs, support the uptake of renewable energy technologies and put the nation on the right green track, a new Greenpeace report suggests.

Launched yesterday, the report's release came as a bill for the introduction of a gross national feed-in tariff was put before Parliament.

A feed-in tariff is one of the most effective ways to encourage the uptake of renewable energy, said Greens Senator Christine Milne in a recent statement.

It guarantees a set price for renewable energy generated over a stipulated period of time, which gives investors greater certainty and thereby has the potential to attract large investment in the renewables sector.

It would encourage households to purchase renewable technologies, like solar panels, as they could be assured of receiving that fixed rate for the electricity they generate, Milne said.

Currently only state-based feed-in tariff schemes exist, and not all throughout the country.

"The commonwealth was formed to fundamentally break down State policy borders, but they are missing in the fractured state-based schemes that are emerging in feed-in tariff legislation," said a statement from Independent MP Rob Oakeshott, one of the major faces behind the feed-in bill.

"This must change to improve productivity, and improve investment security in renewables," he said.

"As an example, Germany - thanks largely to feed-in tariff legislation - generates 6 per cent of its GDP from environmental technology. We should be demanding a piece of this economic action in Australia, and so far, all we hear is silence."

"The Rudd Government is being presented with a simple way to create tens of thousands of green jobs tonight when the Bill to create a gross national feed in tariff goes before the house. This is a well-proven mechanism for creating a renewable energy boom," Milne said.

The Greenpeace/Institute for Sustainable Futures report, Working for the Climate, examines the employment effects of Greenpeace's Global Energy [R]evolution scenario, under which 10 billion tonnes per year of CO2 are avoided by 2030, creating 6.9 million jobs worldwide in renewable power alone.

An additional study using the same method focuses on job potential in Australia. It reveals that by maximising Australia's renewable energy potential, the renewable power workforce would increase to 33,900 direct jobs, the same as currently employed in Australian coal mining.

"Many reports show that Australia's potential for clean energy jobs is massive. But until we see policies like the feed-in tariff in place and measures to train and equip the new clean energy workforce, all of this will remain theoretical," said Sven Teske, Greenpeace International's senior energy expert and report lead author.

The union movement, here and internationally, is embracing the huge potential of green jobs and challenging governments to deliver real job-creating policy.

"Governments need to match investment in green jobs with guaranteed additional funding to deliver high quality training through TAFE. This is to ensure that Australians through appropriate training and retraining have the opportunity to develop the necessary skills needed to take advantage of the new industries in this area," said Angelo Gavrielatos, Federal President Australian Education Union.

"The cost of inaction is not just environmental - without action we are exporting investment, talent and jobs. This is a great opportunity which we must seize," said Dean Mighell, Electrical Trades Union (ETU) Victoria Secretary.

The Victorian ETU's Job Creation report showed that with one small policy move to encourage people to put solar panels on their roofs, more than 20,000 jobs can be created in the solar industry alone.

"We could create much needed manufacturing jobs, ideally in places like the Latrobe Valley, brown coal heartland," said Mighell.

"Now is the time to put in place a 'just transition' to sustainably transform the jobs of today and develop the decent green jobs of tomorrow," added Guy Ryder, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation.

"Global leaders must tackle the twin crises of global economic recession and climate change by investing in renewable energy," said Teske.

"The choice is not one of green or dirty jobs, but of green jobs or ecological and social collapse."