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Starting up the energy efficiency jobs machine

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group), the Energy Efficiency Council (EEC), and the Property Council of Australia (PCA), have released a joint statement that captures the key insight from the National Summit: Energy Efficiency and Australia’s Economic Recovery.

The Summit was held on July 1, organised by the parties mentioned. It was supported by a coalition of industry and community groups, and attended by over 500 live participants. Bringing together leaders from politics, business, the community sector and beyond, the event highlighted how we must put energy efficiency at the heart of Australia’s economic recovery.

Titled “Energy efficiency is a machine for creating jobs. Time to start it up”, the Joint Statement focuses on the Summit’s key agenda of stimulating Australia’s job economy through improving the energy efficiency of buildings and industry.

“Countries around the globe are facing an unprecedented health emergency and economic challenge. Australia, faring better than many others on the health front, is nevertheless in the midst of its greatest economic crisis in decades,” says the Statement.

“We are several months in, and it is already tough out there. However between now and Christmas the full brunt of this economic shock will hit millions of Australians.”

Putting forward the Special Report on Sustainable Recovery – produced by the IEA in partnership with the International Monetary Fund – the Statement highlights its comprehensive analysis of energy-related stimulus options. Citing the analysis, it notes how energy efficiency in buildings for both retrofits and new builds had “topped the charts”.

“Here in Australia, we’ve run the numbers. A major drive to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and industry could deliver over 120,000 job-years of employment,” says the Statement.

“It’s a machine that can be started quickly. Governments can scale up existing programs, or partner with the many businesses and NGOs that already have robust delivery systems in place that can be ramped up rapidly while ensuring quality control on the ground.”

The Statement notes that the jobs created now will be essential to implement the COAG Energy Council’s national plan for zero energy (and carbon) ready buildings for Australia.

Beyond job creation, the Statement lists three benefits of what it calls “the energy efficiency jobs machine”:

  • It eases energy bill stress on struggling households in a period of unprecedented financial stress
  • It makes our businesses more productive and resilient to shocks, especially energy intensive businesses
  • It is a source of plentiful, low cost emission reductions at a time when our national government and every state and territory is committed to identifying and unlocking such opportunities.

With the exception of the “high performers”, the Statement says that the standards of our buildings fall below that of the countries of our global competitors.

“As a result our energy bills are higher, our health outcomes are worse, and our energy systems and our environment are put under greater strain,” it says.

“We can create tens of thousands of jobs at the moment when we need them most. Lower energy bills for businesses and households. Make our buildings healthier and more comfortable, and position Australian businesses for the twenty-first century economy.

“But none of this will happen without decisive action from government. Now is the perfect time to act.”

For those who missed the Summit, the organisers have a put up a variety of content taken from the event, including:

  • Three session videos, available via Youtube
  • EEC’s CEO, Luke Menzel, interviewed the Founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance Michael Liebreich, and it has been released as an episode of the podcast First Fuel
  • A write-up on key insights from the event by Rob Murray-Leach

The Joint Statement is available in full here.

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