Central Queensland has the abundant natural resources, skilled workforce and existing industry base to be a leader in the renewable energy and clean industry-led economy. From the Reef to the coalfields, the region has a proud and successful history in tourism as well as industry traditionally dominated by fossil fuel extraction and exports, fossil fuel heavy industries and power generation. Today, as the world moves beyond the use of polluting fossil fuels, Central Queensland has abundant economic and job opportunities for decarbonising the industries that already exist. Plus, a number of natural advantages for creating additional, renewable industries.
Local understanding and support for a shift towards decarbonisation has risen dramatically in recent years. Until early 2021, at least half of the participants in regional forums hosted by The Next Economy, an organisation that works with communities, governments and industry to build regional economies, expressed some scepticism about the need to plan for the decline of fossil fuel use. By the end of 2021, the overwhelming majority were acknowledging that fossil fuel use would eventually be phased out and that Australia is shifting to renewable energy. Today, more than half of the residents in the seat of Flynn, which includes the towns of Gladstone and Emerald, want the government to prioritise investment in renewable and clean industries over coal and gas, according to recent YouGov polling commissioned by the Climate Council. The same poll showed fewer than 1 in 5 people under the age of 35 want the government to prioritise investment in coal and gas.
Media assets accompanying this report here
Report Key Findings
1. Central Queensland has the abundant natural resources, skilled workforce and existing industry base to be a leader in renewable energy and clean industry.
- Only 1 in 3 residents in the seat of Flynn want the government to prioritise investment in coal and gas over renewables and clean industry, according to YouGov polling commissioned by the Climate Council.
- Central Queensland jobs and its economy have historically been driven by the fossil fuel industry. As the global economy rapidly decarbonises, Central Queensland has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to prepare for the jobs and skills needed in renewables and clean energy industries.
- There are a large number of projects already underway in the region in renewable hydrogen, green metals, green chemical manufacturing, and associated services, as well as a major renewable energy generation pipeline.
- With an existing industrial base and established infrastructure, Central Queensland has many economic and job opportunities by decarbonising existing industries – and a number of natural advantages to attract new renewable and clean industries.
- Through its 10 year energy plan, the Queensland Government can send a clear signal to clean industries and investors that the sunshine state is open for business.
2. Investing in the development of renewables and clean industries is an investment in Central Queensland and its communities.
- Further investment and development in renewables and clean industries could unlock tens of thousands of new jobs (while protecting existing manufacturing jobs) as well as billions of dollars in investment in Central Queensland.
- For example, Central Queensland could see more than 5.6 gigawatts of battery, solar and wind projects built, which would increase renewable energy capacity by almost 20 times and create almost 9,000 jobs.
- Rio Tinto’s recent proposal, to meet the energy needs of its local projects using renewable energy, could deliver a further 5,000 jobs in manufacturing, construction, and operations and maintenance for the region.
- Demand for clean exports will skyrocket as Australia’s major trading partners and allies accelerate their move to net zero. We can ride this wave, or lose export opportunities and jobs.
3. Central Queenslanders are ready to lead this economic transformation, but need government leadership and support to take full advantage of the opportunities.
- Fewer than 2 in 10 people within Flynn believe their community is getting enough support to prepare for a future with less fossil fuels, according to YouGov polling commissioned by the Climate Council.
- The Federal and Queensland governments must work closely together to upskill local workers for jobs in new, clean industries and prioritise the rollout of new transmission infrastructure needed to connect the state’s renewable energy zones.
- The Federal Government must boost energy storage via a mandated Renewable Energy Storage Target, plan ahead for coal closures with transition plans in place for coal-fired power stations by 2024, and end public funding for fossil fuels.
- The Queensland government must put in place the right policy measures and funding now, to realise the opportunities for Central Queensland. This includes powering Queensland by renewable energy by 2030, investing in the Renewable Energy Industrial Precincts program, and meaningful engagement to support First Nations and local communities to manage the impact of inevitable coal closures.