Enabling change in our Society, Environment and Economy (SEE)

Want Jobs?

Need Environmental Protection

A very different approach is emerging between Australia and China’s treatment of jobs and industries providing goods and services for environmental protection.

In Australia, major investors expect that, with the Coalition dismantling the clean energy finance system, private funding will be directed away from large-scale renewable power and concentrated instead on the five economic pillars in the Coalition’s policy platform: manufacturing, advanced services, agriculture exports, education and research, and mining.

As the Coalition’s lack of policies on environmental protection industries demonstrate, environmental conservation is viewed more of a constraint on industry, rather than opportunity.

In stark contrast, China recently announced it will elevate environmental protection to a “pillar industry” that would receive government support in the form of tax breaks and subsidies to tackle dire pollution.

The Chinese approach of recognising environmental protection as an industry has the benefit of saying clearly that there are jobs in it. Can we learn from that? Can we make the environmental protection industry a major job creator and export earner?

Rather than think of environmental protection as an industry competing with other industry sectors and other social goals, we should think of it as the foundation or root sustaining social and economic goals such as jobs, housing, peace and security, and public health.  Then we avoid the common and arid dichotomy of jobs versus the environment.

SEE-Change_conservationjobimage1The easiest way for the Coalition to incorporate this approach within its existing policy framework would be for it to expressly recognise Australia’s environmental protection industry within its economic pillar of “advanced services”.  The Coalition government could then promote trade with China in the environmental protection industry to build Australia’s exports into the massive business opportunity that China’s new policy represents.

Linking “environmental protection” and “industry” is an idea that is likely to win support across the political spectrum.

This article is an extract from a story published in theconversation. Original story can be found here. Thanks to Eva Mueller and Barbara Burns for this summary.  

With thanks to our


  • ACT Government Environment and Planning
  • The Association of Independent Schools of the ACT (AISACT)
  • Catholic Education Office (Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn)
  • Education and Training Directorate
  • ACT Government