Australian Greens Leader Adam Bandt has called for a growth in ‘renewables mining’ jobs and a phase out of thermal coal as part of the Green New Deal to unlock Australia’s potential as a clean energy superpower.
Comment from Greens Leader Adam Bandt MP:
“A growth in ‘renewables mining’ jobs as we phase out coal is an important part of the Green New Deal.
“Government needs to take the reins and oversee the transition so we grow jobs and industries, including in areas where coal mines and power stations exist at the moment.
“The global renewables revolution will need Australia’s critical minerals and metals, and with improved environmental standards and consent from local communities and traditional owners, we can have an expanded renewables mining industry powered by clean energy underpinning a manufacturing renaissance in Australia.
“We should process more of our minerals here and use clean energy to make things again.
“As Ross Garnaut says, Australia has by far the richest endowment per person of renewable energy resources. This makes us naturally the country with lowest energy costs in the emerging zero emissions world.
“The world’s consumption of resources will eventually outstrip supply, so as we expand our processing capacity we also have a golden opportunity to become world leaders in product stewardship and metals recycling.
“Instead of sending our iron ore overseas, we could be manufacturing green steel here in the decades to come. We should process our vast deposits of lithium in Australia and make the batteries that will power Australia’s vehicles and homes. We should make the zero-carbon products the world will want in the decades and centuries to come.
“A clean energy revolution can also underpin a giant new energy export industry, exporting the power of the sun and wind via direct cable to Asia or green hydrogen manufactured with renewables.
“We have an obligation to see no one is left behind. We've seen transition done very badly in the past - just look at the car industry - but with cheap and abundant clean energy we can expand existing industries and grow new ones.
“With a Green New Deal we can fight the climate crisis and economic crises together and renewables mining powered by clean energy is critical to this plan.
“The Green New Deal is a plan to phase out thermal coal, oil and gas and increase renewables mining, processing and recycling, while looking after affected workers and communities.”
The Greens do not support asbestos and uranium mining and want to see a phase out of coal, oil and gas, but mining is a critical part of the Australian economy and if we make the right decisions it will play an even bigger role in the future because most mining is central to shifting to a clean energy economy and Australia is best placed to develop a growing mining sector powered by clean energy. We have an opportunity for a bigger, better and more sustainable mining boom. This is what Adam Bandt recently wrote to the Minerals Council about and he will meet with them soon to progress the discussion.
The reality is, just like asbestos, the time of thermal coal is over, that is why we want to see it phased out by 2030 and no new coal mines opened. Over time metallurgical coal will also be superseded by green steel produced with hydrogen which is set to take off from 2025. But the clean energy mining boom as well as all the other opportunities of decarbonising the economy will mean we can have a different development and jobs pathway for areas like the Bowen Basin in QLD.
Current Greens policy calls for a $200 million Green Steel Transformation Fund, as well as financial support for ‘solar fuels’ export hubs and government-led investment in the national energy grid and energy generation to drive down the cost of electricity for business.
Australia has abundant minerals and metal resources that can be developed and that are critical to the clean transformation. For example, we already export about a third of the world's lithium and have the world’s third largest resource.
There will always be individual mines, such as the Macarthur Mine in Northern Territory, which should not proceed because of impacts on high conservation areas, water or are not supported or do not benefit to traditional owners and local communities. It is important that mining development is properly regulated and engages in best practice. The Greens would continue to insist on strong environmental approvals and consent from local communities and Traditional Owners.