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Why leading in renewable exports should power Australia’s recovery

Australia is home to some of the world’s best renewable energy resources. WWF Australia and EY believe it can emerge from COVID-19 as a renewable-export superpower.

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Can clean energy fuel a post-COVID recovery?

WWF Australia argues now is the time for Australia to transition to a zero-carbon economy.

With the highest solar radiation per square meter of any continent, wind, waves and plenty of open space, Australia has some of the best renewable energy resources in the world. It also has a strong track-record in renewable-energy innovation, including the invention of the modern solar cell. With its resources and technical know-how, Australia has the potential to produce enough clean and affordable energy to power the whole nation and have plenty left to sell to the world.

Conservation organization WWF Australia believes the time is right for Australia to start transitioning to a zero-carbon economy and lead the world in renewable energy. Pivoting to a clean-energy future would not only boost and diversify Australia’s economy, open export opportunities and create new industries and jobs – but also lower domestic carbon pollution and improve the environment for all.

With the world grappling with a global pandemic, this has resulted in one of the largest economic downturns since the great depression. But as with any major and world changing challenge, at the heart there is opportunity.

Albany wind farm western Australia
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A renewable export recovery package can drive long-term growth

WWF Australia worked with EY on a roadmap for a renewables-led recovery.

To set out a roadmap for change, WWF Australia worked with EY on an Australian Renewable Export COVID19 Recovery Package (pdf). The report sets out the case for action and the priority stimulus measures required by Australia’s state and federal governments to stimulate the Australian economy, secure existing jobs, create new jobs, accelerate decarbonization and put Australia on the pathway to becoming a renewable export powerhouse.

The report calls for Australia’s leaders to prioritize a Renewable Recovery and in the process make the nation the world’s number one exporter of renewable energy and related products and expertise by 2030. It outlines the job rich opportunities available now, including not only the renewable energy itself but also growing supply chains and the development and export of related expertise – for example in engineering or green finance – and related solutions such as demand management and integrating renewables into the grid.

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Strong demand for a new economic model

Stakeholders recognize decarbonization drives long-term value – stimulating recovery, growth, and positive environmental change.

In working on the report, EY teams in Australia and across the world reached out to clients and other stakeholders to assess the short and long-term value of renewables. Conversations identified a clear appetite for a new economic model and for decarbonization in driving lasting economic recovery.

As Matthew Bell, a Partner in Ernst & Young Australia who led the WWF Australia engagement says, “During COVID-19, many commentators pointed out that as the economy stalled the environment benefitted from a fall in emissions. That’s not sustainable – to recover from COVID-19, we have to rebuild our economy. If we do that using clean energy, economic growth and positive environmental change will go hand in hand.”

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