Environmentalists are trumpeting the tens of thousands of jobs in renewable energy in their latest criticism of the Morrison government’s push to expand the gas industry.
A stocktake commissioned by the Australian Conservation Foundation shows there were more than 27,000 full-time jobs in renewable energy and 58,000 jobs in energy efficiency last year.
While clean energy makes up just a fifth of electricity supply, it has more jobs compared to electricity generation by coal (12,167) or gas and oil (22,003).
The foundation fears the government’s gas-fired coronavirus economic recovery could hurt the clean energy sector’s growth.
“The boom in energy efficiency and renewable energy and jobs is significant, especially in this time of high unemployment,” campaigner Christian Slattery said on Wednesday.
“But the Morrison government’s declining interest in renewables and its pro-gas agenda risk the growth of this sector and could turn the clean energy boom into a bust.”
Mr Morrison has given power giants seven months to present a plan on replacing the energy gap that will be left by the closure of the Liddell coal-fired station.
Otherwise, the government will step in and build a gas plant of its own.
It also wants to tap into three gas basins in the Northern Territory and Queensland.
The federal energy minister is separately spruiking a “technology road map” to reduce Australia’s emissions, which has been slapped down by former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.
After the road map was announced, Mr Turnbull said Australia still lacked coherent energy and climate policies.
Mr Turnbull will appear alongside a UN climate expert at a Smart Energy Council summit on Wednesday.
Tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes and Labor’s energy spokesman Mark Butler will also speak at the event.