10,000 coal industry jobs were lost in Australia during the past year. As a staunch green-collar I think it’s a bad result. It should be zero. Here’s why…
The coal-job losses are gleefully used as ammunition by both sides of the coal debate; those who argue that we should keep mining and burning coal blame the losses on the carbon price and lack of Govt. support, and those that argue for renewable energy say ‘we told you so’.
Make no mistake, I am for leaving the coal in the ground, I am for clean and perpetual renewable energy, I am for prosperity, I am for a future for our children where they are free from the ravages of a warming planet that we are already bringing down upon them.
What we have accepted though is an obvious animosity between ‘coal’ and ‘renewables’ opinion. What I’m struggling to find is reporting or points of view that argue for a renewables transition in jobs. In other words, what are we doing to help those 10,000 coal workers skill-up for green collar employment in the growing renewables market? What of the next 10,000 and the next?Australian Mining posted a good piece on what’s driving the economics. Bloomberg New Energy Finance forms the view that Australia is unlikely to build any new coal power stations purely on the business case – they no longer stack up against renewables. It’s now only the existing stations that are cheaper, for now.
The causes of the losses [and there are many] don’t really matter. The reality is that 10,000 people lost their jobs. That’s 10,000 small cuts [and sometimes big ones] in our community. It impacts livelihoods, families, children, local economies. It hurts all of us. In my experience it’s not actually that many of us who get to choose our jobs or follow our calling – we look after our families first and that means making some compromises from time to time and putting food on the table.
So it’s not for us to judge coal workers. It’s for us to help build the bridge between the coal jobs of the past and the green collar jobs of the future. We need to be supporting the transition by providing new skills, up-skilling and new job opportunities. The money is still swashing around in the system – it has to go somewhere.
As sustainability practitioners we need to be holding our hands out and helping our mates. After all, sustainability and more importantly sustainable communities are as much about people as they are about planet and profit.
So let’s work at changing the headline to this;
‘10,000 coal jobs in the next year to transition to the renewables sector’
Let’s bring everyone along for the ride, and look after each other along the way.