Australia, the world's largest exporter of coal and liquefied natural gas, has committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
As a significant contributor to the country's economy, the energy sector's transition towards a low-carbon energy system is a challenging but necessary step towards achieving this goal.
To support this transition and ensure a fair and inclusive transition for all Australians, the International Energy Agency has released the Australia 2023 Energy Policy Review report, providing recommendations to support affected workers and communities.
The report emphasises developing and implementing regional transition plans, investing in retraining and upskilling programs, providing financial support, investing in new industries and infrastructure, and supporting community engagement and participation.
Developing tailored regional transition plans is crucial to ensure that the transition is fair and inclusive, the report said.
These plans should identify the specific skills and industries needed to support the transition and create new job opportunities, attracting new investment in affected regions.
Upskilling and retraining programs are critical to supporting workers as they transition to new industries, delivered collaboratively with employers, unions, and training providers.
Financial support, including income support and support for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and relocation assistance, can help ease the financial burden of the transition and encourage innovation.
Investing in new industries and infrastructure, such as renewable energy projects and energy storage facilities, is also critical to creating new job opportunities and supporting economic growth in affected regions.
Supporting community engagement and participation is essential to build trust and support for the transition process, ensuring that affected communities' voices are heard and included in decision-making processes.
Although the transition from coal-fired power stations may have an impact on local communities and create economic instability, it presents significant opportunities for those who embrace the shift and seek new employment opportunities.
The renewable energy sector is one of the primary industries offering employment opportunities.
There is a growing demand for skilled workers, from electricians and engineers to project managers and administrative staff. Additionally, the energy efficiency sector presents job opportunities for energy auditors and consultants, advising on how to improve energy efficiency in households and businesses.
The Australian Government's Career Transition Assistance Program offers free employment services and support to workers affected by industry changes, including career planning, job search strategies, and training opportunities.
Local community groups and non-profit organisations are also working to support affected workers and communities by providing a range of services, including financial assistance, job training, mental health support, and community events.