ACCI claims on UK jobs study misleading Media Release

Mar 10, 2011 - 3:30am

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (ACCI) claim that a UK report into clean energy props up its argument that investment in clean energy destroys not creates jobs were false and misleading, The Climate Institute said today.

“All the credible modelling shows that as we reduce carbon pollution jobs continue to grow strongly across the economy, to claim otherwise is false and misleading,” said John Connor, CEO The Climate Institute.

“This is classic scaremongering by the ACCI. They are advocating a high risk strategy that would see Australia remain dependent on high polluting energy sources in a world turning to clean energy.”

The Climate Institute’s Clean Energy Jobs study shows that investing in clean energy will drive a net increase of close to 34,000 new jobs in Australia’s power sector between now and 2030.

ACCI is challenging this finding by referring to a new study by UK based Verso Economics called Worth The Candle? The Economic Impact of Renewable Energy Policy in Scotland and the UK (March 2011).

Contrary to the ACCI claims, the UK report explicitly states that it “does not consider what jobs may have been ‘destroyed’ by renewable energy policies.”i

Instead, the Verso Economics study relies on modelling of the UK economy to assess how many more jobs would be created if the money being spent on renewable energy were spent elsewhere in the UK economy.

The major flaw with the UK study is that it assumes we have a choice about the need to reduce pollution, and therefore a choice about whether or not to invest in clean energy.

“The reality is that if we are serious about reducing pollution we need to urgently scale up our investments in clean energy,” said Mr Connor said.
“Investing in clean energy is not just about reducing pollution; it also ensures Australian industry remains competitive in the emerging global low pollution economy.”

A record $243 billion was invested in clean energy globally in 2010, with China, the US and Europe taking the lion’s share. Despite having a population only three times our own, investment in clean energy in the UK reached around US$ 11 billion in 2009 and compared to less than $1 billion in Australia. Over 900,000 people are now employed in the UK in low pollution businesses and jobs in these sectors have been growing strongly despite the country’s economic downturn.

ACCI also fails to point out that modelling, similar to that relied upon in Verso Economics study, was done by the Australian Treasury for the CPRS, which showed that with a carbon price, 1.7 million new jobs would have been added to the Australian economy by 2020 and 4.7 million new jobs by 2050.ii

ACCI also fails to acknowledge that investing in clean energy has only a marginal impact on electricity prices. The main reason why electricity prices are rising is the unprecedented investment in new poles and wires. This investment in grid infrastructure, combined with rising gas and coal prices, is expected to account for around 84% of the price rise in coming years.

ACCI’s claims that Australian industry won’t cope with rising costs is at odds with an Australian Industry Group report, which found that for most companies electricity accounts for less than 2% of sales revenue.

For further information:
John Connor | CEO, The Climate Institute |  0413 968 475

 

i Pg. 16 Worth The Candle? The Economic Impact of Renewable Energy Policy in Scotland and the UK (March 2011).
ii
 Gillard, J. “Address to the Green Skills Forum - New Convention Centre – Melbourne”, 23 October 2009, available online at:  http://ministers.deewr.gov.au/gillard/address-green-skills-forum-new-convention-centre-melbourne

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