The Green-collar army  

Posted by Big Gav

The SMH has a report on the "green collar army" that is forming to advance the switch to clean energy - Green-collar army recruits for the solar boom.

LEAH CALLON-BUTLER gave up a career in fashion last year to become a solar panel saleswoman, joining a surge towards green jobs predicted by the Federal Government.

Modelling done by Treasury on the cost of climate change found there would be an explosion in "green-collar" work with the introduction of an emissions trading scheme, with renewable power industries like solar and wind expected to be 30 times their current size by the middle of the century.

Ms Callon-Butler, a sales executive with the Sydney solar hot-water company Endless Solar, intends to stick around for the expected boom. The company has installed 5000 rooftop solar hot water systems in five years, using technology developed at the University of NSW, and it is looking for more staff. ...

By 2050, Treasury predicts, renewable energy could make up as much as half the energy mix in Australia, replacing the current reliance on coal. "Renewable technologies will become increasingly competitive, and production methods will switch to less emission-intensive technologies and processes," the Treasury report said. More jobs will be created by demand for cleaner cars, and Treasury estimates one in four people will be driving a hybrid or plug-in electric car by 2050.

The Clean Energy Council said the Treasury modelling showed immediate public and private investment in renewable power would pay off.

"The smarter and more dynamic we are right now, the more options we will have in terms of deploying technologies commercially five years down the track in 2012 and 2013," said a spokesman, Matthew Warren. Unions and environment groups called on the Federal Government to pave the way for a green jobs boom.

Half a million new jobs could be created in renewable sectors of the economy by 2030, said a report yesterday by the ACTU and the Australian Conservation Foundation. The ACTU president, Sharan Burrow, said: "The report shows Australia must act swiftly to make the most of its natural advantages or our economy will be left behind. We can't afford to miss the boat."

The Nation has an article by Van Jones, who is the most prominent commentator on the 'green collar jobs" idea - Working Together for a Green New Deal.
at a certain point it occurred to me that what we need is less investment in the fight against and more energy in the fight for: for positive alternatives to violence and incarceration. It was around that time that I got involved in the environmental movement. And I came to understand that the answer to our social, economic and ecological crises can be one and the same: a green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty.

Society faces some huge challenges. The individuals, entrepreneurs and community leaders who will step up to make the repairs and changes are going to need help. They require and deserve a world-class partner in our government. The time has come for a public-private community partnership to fix this country and put it back to work. In the framework of a Green New Deal, the government would become a powerful partner to the problem solvers of the world--and not the problem makers.

Now, we cannot achieve the goal of a Green New Deal just by wishing for it. The first step in getting the government to support an inclusive, green economy is to build a durable political coalition.

On the one hand, there are large and powerful constituencies of white, affluent, college-educated progressives active in the United States. They are passionate about the environment, fair trade, economic justice and global peace. Unfortunately, many do not yet work in concert with people of color in their own country to pursue this agenda; they champion "alternative economic development strategies" across the globe, but not across town. These people could be great allies in uplifting our inner cities if they are given encouragement and a clear opportunity to do so.

On the other hand, many groups of people of color do not want to work in coalition with majority white organizations and white leaders. Many fear betrayal; others resent chronic white arrogance. Cultural differences and power imbalances create tensions; some organizations are actually committed to a racially exclusive ideology. Even though such organizations could benefit from additional allies and outside assistance, the very folks who could most benefit from a green opportunity agenda are loath to get involved.

Taken together, this means that the various US social change movements today are still nearly as racially segregated as the rest of society. This is a moral tragedy. And it is a tremendous barrier to building sufficient power to advance a positive social change agenda for anyone and everyone. Breaking through this standoff is a critical first step toward building a New Deal coalition for the new century--which would be the only thing dynamic, diverse and powerful enough to overcome the obstacles to progress.

In the New Deal period, it was a broad electoral coalition that moved the government onto the side of ordinary people, not FDR alone. Farmers, workers, ethnic minorities, students, intellectuals, progressive bankers and forward-thinking business leaders all joined forces at the ballot box to support FDR and his Congressional backers as they worked to revive the economy.

2 comments

Anonymous   says 12:01 AM

"One in four people driving a hybrid or plug-in car by 2050". What will the other 3 in 4 be driving? Pedal cars? All the oil will be gone by then!

It is a Treasury report - they aren't exactly on the cutting edge.

There are alternatives of course - we could have shifted primarily to cycling (regular and electric bikes), walking and public transport - thsu the car population would be greatly reduced.

And in theory all cars in Oz could be running on CNG then - we have enough to last 70 odd years at greatly increased rates of consumption from today.

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