There are signs that support for green energy is sweeping the nation, writes Michael Mazengarb.
VOTERS IN New South Wales and Queensland say they back green energy technologies to secure their long-term economic future, suggesting voters may not be buying the idea that coal and gas are necessary for long term jobs.
A poll of more than 2,000 voters in regional, rural and metropolitan Queensland and NSW, commissioned by the Climate Council, found that more than 60%of respondents see renewable energy sources like wind, solar and renewable hydrogen will be a better source of new jobs, compared to coal and gas.
More than 80% of respondents in each state said they approved of government investments in renewable energy industrial precincts, and voters in both states ranked renewable energy and green hydrogen as a much higher investment priority than gas and coal.
A majority of those polled also believe that if Australia increased efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, it would generate positive economic benefits for Australian businesses.
Support for increased climate action was strong across both Queensland (58% agreed) and New South Wales (64% agreed), while just 20% disagreed with the notion that stronger climate action would lead to a stronger economy.
Around 60% of respondents in both Queensland and New South Wales agreed that their state’s “future economic prosperity” would be supported by renewable energy exports and the production of resources like lithium and cobalt for use in other clean energy technologies.
A similar proportion of responders – 60% in Queensland and 61% in New South Wales – said they believe that regional areas would benefit the most from a global transition to clean energy.
Less than a quarter of respondents said they thought coal and gas could underpin the future prosperity of their state.
It is a significant result for two states which have long had coal and gas exports forming a large part of their economy, with New South Wales hosting the world’s largest coal port and Queensland home to some of the world’s most significant gas export infrastructure.
Economist, and member of the Climate Council, Nicki Hutley, said the polling results showed that voters understood that Australia had a better economic future through the pursuit of clean energy.
This polling reveals that people in NSW and QLD understand the era of coal and gas in this country is coming to a close as the world rapidly decarbonises.
There is a huge opportunity for the historical coal and gas heartlands of NSW and Queensland to grasp the economic rewards of the global zero emission transformation, and the people see this.
All governments should pay attention to this public groundswell of support for clean industries and, and commit to credible carbon cuts this decade.
The Federal Government can play a huge role in helping QLD and NSW harness their immense natural advantages and put these states on a path to becoming clean industry and renewable superpowers.
The Next Economy’s CEO, Dr Amanda Cahill, who heads the non-for-profit that assists businesses and community groups to transition away from fossil fuels, said the polling results confirmed that regional communities were calling for greater support for growing new opportunities in clean energy.
‘There are so many opportunities for regional areas and they’re crying out for support from government to help them diversify their economies.’
Further, she said:
This poll reaffirms what I’ve been hearing on the ground. Workers, businesses and investors are ready to take advantage of the opportunities in the new economy, but they need the government to back them in with clear targets, regional development funding and planning support.
The countries we export to are already on the road to net zero emissions and we have a choice – help them do it or lose out on those new export opportunities.
Michael Mazengarb is a journalist with RenewEconomy, based in Sydney.
This article was originally published by RenewEconomy on 3 February 2022 and is republished with permission.
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