A Clean New Deal for Australia?

Kate: I wrote last week about how those involved in futures prediction at the Brisbane Ideas Festival believe that the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) could encourage innovation through government investment in growing a greener economy. Commentators around the world (drawing from President Roosevelt’s response to the Depression) have been speaking of the need for a “Green New Deal” to tackle the unprecedented triple challenge of the GFC, Climate Change and Peak Oil. Studies, such as a University of Massachusetts-Amherst study quoted in UK The Independent this week (http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/hopes-for-climate-treaty-set-back-by-g20s-weasel-words-1662935.html) , have shown that investment in the green economy can create nearly four times as many jobs as traditional investment.

As Kristin wrote from the AustralAsian Cleantech Forum last week, we have immense capability in Australia to be a leader in the development of Clean Technology that could take on these challenges and create employment. The Cleantech Forum web site (http://www.cleantechnology.com.au/) quotes Terry Tamminen, Chief Advisor to Californian Governer Schwrzenegger, as stating that he’s seen “lots of evidence that right here in Melbourne, Victoria could be the Silicon Valley for Cleantech in the World”.

Yet where is the evidence that our leaders are capitalizing on this potential for a ‘Clean New Deal’ for Australia? An article published in The Financial Times places Australia near the bottom of the table in terms of the percentage of its economic stimulus package devoted to green initiatives. Just 9% of the $42 billion package is devoted to providing ceiling insulation to 2.7 million homes (hardly a major investment for the long term development of the green economy in Australia). This compares to the US where 12% is devoted to green initiatives including $15 billion to support clean energy and technology as well as investment in intelligent power lines, energy efficiency and basic research funding. China is thought to have invested around 40% of it’s stimulus moneys into environmental and renewable energy projects. But the leader is South Korea which has directed 81% of its stimulus towards a green job creation plan, energy conservation and clean transportation.

Countries ranked according to percentage of their economic stimulus package devoted to green initiatives based on an article published in The Financial Times (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/cc207678-0738-11de-9294-000077b07658.html) Figures were based on the HSBC Report ‘A Climate for Recovery’.

Country

Amount Spent on Fiscal Stimulus ($US billion)

Green Measures as a Percentage of Total Stimulus

South Korea

38.1

81%

European Union

38.8

59%

China

586.1

38%?

France

33.7

21%

Germany

104.8

13%

United States

972

12%

Australia

26.7

9%

Canada

31.8

8%

United Kingdom

30.4

7%

Japan

145.9

3%

Italy

103.5

1%

As Kristin wrote last week, clean technology is a highly competitive area and these figures show that the hottest competition may well be in the Asia Pacific Region. We need at act quickly to dramatically upscale our investment in this area and take advantage of our world class capabilities to grow a green economy.

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