The phrase ‘net zero by 2050’ has been everywhere lately, because it is the year that governments around the world are committing to end carbon emissions. According to the Climate Council of Australia ‘net zero emissions’ refers to achieving an overall balance between greenhouse gas emissions produced and greenhouse gas emissions taken out of the atmosphere.
Net zero means completely phasing out fossil fuels and other sources of emissions, but this has concerned those who work in mining and agriculture – two of the largest emissions producers.
So for a country like Australia, where so much of what we do and a large portion of our trade comes from the exact industries that will need to undergo vast change, what will net zero by 2050 look like here?
This is what net-zero emissions could look like in Australia.
Effect on jobs
The main concern is around job losses. There are entire towns in Australia, particularly in Queensland and Western Australia, that have been built on mining. For these Australians, there is a great concern around what will happen to their jobs and towns if the country stops mining.
Of course, it wouldn’t all happen overnight and the Federal Government has said it will be investing into innovation to help the sector pivot to a greener future. And, despite those fears committing to net zero could impact tens of thousands of jobs, research by UTS found renewable energy positions provided a good match for existing coal jobs across the workforce.
The study found the renewable energy sector would be a major source of jobs in the next few years and depending on the policy decisions taken now, the industry could create 20,000 new jobs in the next five years.
“Renewable energy currently employs more people than the domestic coal sector, and employment would be comparable to the entire coal workforce under the Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) renewable growth scenarios,” the study said.
The study also concluded around 75 per cent of renewable energy job opportunities by 2035 could be distributed across regional and rural Australia.
Effect on trade
It is no secret that Australia’s largest export is iron ore, but in a zero emissions world iron ore mines would likely have to be shut down – unless they could figure out how to be completely carbon neutral.
For example, Australia’s iron ore exports are forecast to earn around $700 billion over the six years to 2026. The hit to the Australian economy would be massive if we could no longer export commodities.
However, some of our largest trading partners are also turning away from fossil fuels and looking to hit net zero by 2050. China, Japan and South Korea have all set targets to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by around 2050 and they also happen to make up around two-thirds of Australia’s fossil fuel exports.
So even without Australia turning away from fossil fuels, other countries will be turning away from Australia’s exports regardless. In fact, the Reserve Bank of Australia said it expected Australia’s coal industry to take a substantial hit between now and 2050, and exporting green energy could be the solution.
“Based on emission scenarios consistent with these commitments, we find that Australia’s coal exports could decline significantly by 2050, with a more modest effect likely for liquefied natural gas exports; both may be offset to some degree by increases in green energy exports,” the RBA said.
Countries that have already committed to a target of net zero by 2050 include Canada, United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Spain, South Korea, Japan, Germany, South Africa and China. Additionally, the entirety of the European Union has also committed to a 2050 target.
In summary, commentators like Murdoch’s Alan Jones and Peta Credlin, or Nationals Barnaby Joyce are just flies in the ointment when it comes to Australia’s environmental and economic future. When we look back in history, the current coal versus renewable energy debate will be studied by students as to how the fossil fuel companies could be so successful at slowing the transition i.e. by recruiting whole television networks and numerous politicians to do their dirty work.
From the Driven:
“The owners of the first Nissan Leaf e+ to reach Australian shores have reported that after driving it for one year they have broken even on the cost of owning the vehicle, showing just how economical electric cars can be to run.
The Leaf e+ is a step up from Nissan’s original Leaf, packing a 62kWh battery that offers up to 385km driving range. It is available to order new from Nissan from $64,990 driveaway.
Karen and Shane Maher, who imported the Leaf e+ they dubbed Yuki as a “grey import” from Japan last September before Nissan made the vehicle available to buy new in Australia, have driven a little more than 30,000kms in the last twelve months, charging mainly at home off their Zappi wall charger.
The savings from not having to pay for fuel to run their Nissan X-Trail instead – almost $4,000 – mean that the registration, insurance and maintenance costs have left them out of pocket by only $100 or so.
In a video released on their Youtube channel “EV4ME” they describe their ownership experience and break down the savings and costs.
“We imported this from Japan a year ago and time just flies, and yeah we’ve been driving around for last 12 months we’re more than happy with it. You know, it makes driving enjoyable … and that’s very rare to say about a car,” says Shane.
From a wider perspective, stronger policies to drive the uptake of electric vehicles in Australia could deliver huge savings for Australian drivers, reaching almost $500 billion out to 2035.
The Australian Conservation Foundation commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to assess expected expenditure on road transport, comparing different levels of electric vehicle uptake. The report found that in a high adoption scenario – where there is a complete transition to electric vehicles and increased use of public transport – savings of as much as $492 billion could be achieved by 2035.
The main driver of road transport costs – assessed as the negative externalities imposed on the community as a whole, rather than those directly faced by drivers (car and fuel costs, for example), were found to be air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
Also assessed were the costs of noise and water pollution. “Transport is a significant contributor to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, and we’re now at a real inflection point where we can realistically look at the benefits from a fast and complete transition to EVs in this country,” principal author of the report, and Partner at Deloitte Access Economics, Dr Eamon McGinn, said.
“The potential benefits for our economy of the market-led EV solution, in terms of less greenhouse gas emissions, less air and water pollution, and less vehicle noise are truly staggering – almost $500 billion over the next 30 years.”
CTI courses hosted by Ecoprofit
As climate change events increase in number and ferocity, so does climate change risk for businesses and organisations. To remove or control this risk, organisations need to be equipped with the right practical knowledge.
Carbon Training International (CTI) offers courses that give clear direction to understand how to deal with climate change risk, including a comprehensive understanding of the term net zero.
CTI courses include Strategic Carbon Management, Carbon Accounting, Carbon Offsetting, Carbon Accounting/Offsetting combined, Applied Energy Efficiency and Reducing Fleet Emissions.
You can easily enrol in one of CTI’s online webinar courses at:
Just choose your preferred course and course start date. Extra course dates can be arranged.
The good news: carbon emissions and business costs are linked. The more an organisation reduces its carbon emissions the more it reduces its costs.