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Devastating: Report warns of massive impact on jobs for mining and gas

Business

A report into the impacts of climate change has painted a devastating picture for Queensland jobs and its economy unless policies and procedures were put in place for the transition and the significant opportunities in new and emerging industries.

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The report by EY for the Investor Group for Climate Change, found that even under an orderly transition about two thirds of the current jobs in places like the Bowen and Surat basins “must transition to another industry sector per decade from 2020 to 2040’’.

Under a disorderly transition the impact would be high. About 75 per cent of the existing workforce in “communities in transition’’ would have move to another industry sector per decade from 2030 to 2050.

It said there were currently about 27,000 direct jobs in the Bowen and Surat oil and gas sectors, but there were profound consequences for about 130,000 jobs in sectors that would be impacted by climate change.

“While transitioning to a net zero emissions economy requires fundamental transformation in coal, oil and gas operations, the costs of inaction will be greater than any transition scenario,’’ the report said.

The impact would be even more profound on those economies which have relied heavily on the high paying jobs in the coal and gas sectors.

“While employment associated with mining and exploration activities is exposed to transition risks, a delayed action (or inaction) to decarbonise the global economy would amplify the exposure of other sectors to physical risks,’’ the report said.

“Agriculture, forestry, fishing, tourism and some manufacturing activities are more likely to be impacted by severe extreme weather events (e.g. cyclones, droughts, flooding, bushfires) and drastic changes in climate conditions (e.g. changing rainfall patterns, more frequent and severe heat waves). 

“Analysis for this report shows the Hunter Valley, Bowen-Surat, Pilbara and Gippsland basins employ nearly 45 per cent of Australia’s total coal mining, oil and gas extraction and exploration activities workforce.

“Parts of these communities will likely be disproportionately affected by the departure from fossil fuels compared to urban centres and more diversified regional areas. Therefore, a coordinated response to promote new opportunities and alleviate adverse impacts should be implemented.’’

The report gave metallurgical coal, used for steel production, a life of another 20 years.

It said there were now more than 140 globally significant banks, insurers, asset managers and asset owners that had announced their divestment from thermal coal, and 75 entities announced financing restrictions to oil and gas.

The report said Australia had significant advantages for domestic and export industries as part of the accelerating global transition to net zero emissions. 

“Nearly $17 billion has been committed to large scale renewable energy projects across Australia, which will support 13,500 jobs,” it said. 

“Australia is uniquely positioned to produce and export hydrogen to Asian countries, particularly to Australia’s trading partners. The Federal Government estimates that under a global high-demand scenario, the Australian hydrogen industry could generate approximately 7,600 jobs and add $11 billion per year in additional GDP by 2050.

“This could mean an additional 10,000 jobs and over $26 billion per year in GDP under a fast track high-demand scenario. 

“In a decarbonised economy, Australia’s reserves of critical minerals and rare earth metals play an important role to meet the increasing demand. This will provide significant employment opportunities in regional areas in Western Australia, Northern Territory, South Australia and Queensland.”

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