Australia will lose more than $3 trillion and 880,000 jobs over 50 years if climate change is not addressed, Deloitte says
The Australian economy will lose more than $3 trillion over the next 50 years if climate change is not addressed, according to a new report from Deloitte Access Economics.
The report found that the economy could shrink by 6 per cent over the next 50 years and 880,000 jobs could be lost.
Report author Pradeep Philip, who was a policy director for former prime minister Kevin Rudd, said there is also a lot to be gained if warming is kept below 1.5 degrees and Australia achieves net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
“If we do act over the next few years then in just 50 years there is a benefit to the economy of $680 billion,” he said.
“We’ll have an economy 2.6 per cent bigger, generating 250,000 jobs, so this tells us if you are pro-growth and pro-jobs then we need to act on climate change now.
“We know that there are new sectors around renewables, hydrogen, electric vehicles that can be created.”
Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia will feel the effects most acutely, with trade, tourism and mining some of the industries most exposed to the effects of climate change.
“As things get hotter because the planet warms up it makes it really difficult for those labour-intensive industries to work,” Dr Philip said.
“If you work outside, in construction, higher average temperatures make it quite unbearable to work, so we get a loss of productivity, we get adverse health affects, and this translates across the board into retail, manufacturing, transport and mining.
“Queensland in 50 years will represent half the country’s job losses if we don’t get this right, but will gain 70 per cent of the jobs if we do get this right.”
North Queensland tourism operator Paul Crocombe said he wasn’t surprised by the findings.
He’s been taking people scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef from Townsville for 30 years, and while he says the reef is resilient, climate change is making it harder for it to bounce back.
“Things like cyclones, when they go through they tend to break the more fragile corals in the shallower parts of the reef and it can take up to 15 years for the plate coral to grow,” he said.
“If we start to get more severe cyclones more often it makes it harder for those reefs to recover — coral bleaching is a similar thing.”
He said more erratic weather would also impact the more practical elements of the business.
“If we don’t do anything there are going to be impacts on the reef, impacts on the weather and therefore our ability to access the reef and even the infrastructure such as hotels, motels, port facilities, vessels, all those can be impacted if we get more severe weather events,” Mr Crocombe said.
“Another big impact will be the attitude of travellers, people are looking for a low-carbon option for their travel and holidays … Europeans are certainly thinking twice about doing long-haul travel now and it is something that will have an effect on tourism in Australia in the future.”
Businesses ‘moving despite Government inaction’
Sheep grazier and chair of Farmers for Climate Action Charlie Prell said the pressure is already being felt in his industry, but opportunities are available to help agriculture businesses get by if climate change is addressed.
“Most particularly in hosting renewable energy infrastructure but also the opportunity to be paid for sequestering carbon in trees and in soil,” he said.
“During the last drought, the last two years, 2018-19, I reduced my stocking rate by about nearly 60 per cent … and the only reason I could do that and remain viable was because I was receiving income from the company I’m in partnership with for the wind turbines (that are on my land).”
Last week, ANZ Bank announced its climate policy.
The bank will stop lending money to new customers that earn more than 10 per cent of their revenue from thermal coal mining or generation.
ANZ will also abandon its thermal coal investments within 10 years, and has explicitly supported “net-zero” carbon emissions by 2050.
Mr Prell said businesses will push ahead regardless of the Government’s approach.
“Transport, buildings, businesses, even oil companies and miners are moving despite the Government’s … inability to take action on climate change and to have some kind of a plan to get to carbon neutral,” he said.
“The National Farmer’s Federation have a net zero emissions by 2050 policy to achieve that.
“A lot of them are not left-wing, looney, greenie organisations, they’re actually capitalists, the ANZ Bank is not a left-wing institution … so they’re looking to ameliorate and address risk.”
A spokesperson for the Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said in a statement that the Government’s Technology Investment Roadmap, which prioritises hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, soil carbon, storage options and ‘low-carbon’ steel and aluminium production, will reduce emissions and “make net zero achievable”.
It said the Government would guarantee reliable and affordable energy, without imposing new costs on households.
The Federal Government has promised to deliver net zero emissions in the second half of this century.