Australian Unions Calls for Transition From Coal-generated Electricity

Jon Capistrano
Jon Capistrano
November 9, 2016

The Guardian reported that the Australian unions have thrown their weight behind a transition away from a coal-generated electricity, calling for a new statutory authority to manage a just transition supporting workers and communities that depend on fossil fuel-related jobs.

A policy discussion paper written by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) said a planned closure of coal power stations along with the jobs and energy plans for the country would produce a more prosperous and diversified economy.

It called for an independent statutory body, Energy Transition Australia (ETA), to be created in the environment and energy portfolio. This would be responsible for administering an orderly move to a clean energy economy.

ACTU president Ged Kearney, said the transition away from fossil fuels in the power sector was inevitable. The move comes days after the announcement of the Hazelwood power plant closure, with federal for environment and energy Josh Frydenberg attacking labor and Greens for attempting to plan the closure of coal all over the country.

The ACTU paper acknowledged Australia’s present emission cuts planned for 2030 would need to be solidified in order to meet commitments made in Paris to keep global warming well below 2C. The paper also said that it was widely agreed that Australia will need to move towards net-zero by 2050 if we are to play our part in global efforts in limiting the impact of global warming.

Also, Australian unions recognize that the transition of coal-fired power stations has been classified as critical to reaching emissions reduction targets. The paper also argues that while the country needs to make sure the transition happens, the cost of transition should not fall on the shoulders of industry workers but it should be equally shared across society.

In order to manage the transition effectively, the ACTU argued for a new statutory authority that would manage:

  • The closure of Australia’s coal-fired power stations.
  • An industry-wide multi-employer pooling and redeployment scheme for retrenched workers
  • A labour adjustment package that will give support to workers finding new jobs with job services, worker retraining, personal and financial support, relocation assistance and travel subsidies.

The ACTU said the governing body should also carefully study what new industries would be located in what regions and support those industries growing in areas affected by the shutdown of coal-related industries.

Click here to read the full story on The Guardian

Featured Image Credit: The Guardian

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