Political inertia on climate change could cost 70,000 jobs across NSW and Queensland should G7 nations and others decide to tax emissions-intensive imports from countries like Australia.
That’s the warning from the Climate Council, which likens what it sees as a dearth of federal government climate policy to a “JobKiller” strategy.
Federal cabinet will on Wednesday thrash out the details of a plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, and potentially a more ambitious medium-term target, while placating the Nationals over regional jobs and power prices.
The European Union plans to tax energy-intensive imports from countries without a carbon price from 2023.
This would lead Australian exporters to pay more to sell into the EU compared with nations that have a price on carbon.
The Climate Council modelled what would happen to Australia’s coal and other emissions-heavy exports from NSW and Queensland should G7 nations, China and South Korea adopt similar carbon border adjustment mechanisms.
It projected a loss of more than 50,000 Queensland jobs and $10 billion in gross state product.
NSW is expected to lose around 20,000 jobs and $5 billion in gross state product.
The Climate Council wants the federal government to slash emissions by 75 per cent this decade on the way to net zero by 2035.
At the very least, the Climate Council insists it must commit to halving emissions by 2030 to match commitments by comparable nations.
“The federal government should be getting out in front, and putting support for regions affected in place,” the group’s Nicki Hutley said.
“The new, low-carbon economy is coming and we urgently need a transition plan in place for Australian communities and workers.”
Currently, the coalition has a 2030 target of reducing emissions by between 26 and 28 per cent below 2005 levels and a “preference” to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
The Australia Institute’s Climate of the Nation report, also released on Wednesday, showed three-quarters of 2626 adults surveyed were concerned about climate change.
An increase in bushfires, floods and extinction events wrought by global warming worried 82 per cent of respondents.
More than 60 per cent would support a levy on fossil flue exports to help pay for climate disasters and a requirement for all new car sales to be zero emissions vehicles by 2035.
Just 23 per cent supported the current level of subsidies provided to the fossil fuel industry compared with 57 per cent in opposition.