A CARBON price aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent by 2020 could help create 34,000 jobs in regional Australia, research says.
To be launched today by independent MP Tony Windsor, the report by the Climate Institute predicts that a substantial carbon price, backed by renewable energy policies, would trigger tens of billions of dollars of investment in geothermal, large-scale solar, bio-energy, hydro, wind and gas.
In Victoria, the number of people employed in the electricity industry was projected to increase over the next two decades despite some job losses as coal-fired power plants closed.
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The new jobs would be concentrated in the state's Western District, central highlands and the Mallee.
Climate Institute chief executive John Connor said the report, based on work conducted by consultants SKM-MMA and Ernst & Young, showed that clean-energy projects could provide an economic foundation to support strong regional populations.
It challenged claims that tackling climate change would cost jobs and hurt the economy.
"It is important we have a discussion about the costs and how to manage them, but it is also important to look at the benefits and how you achieve those," Mr Connor said.
Mr Windsor said the report showed regional Australia could be a big winner as renewable energy projects were developed.
It is estimated nearly 6900 new electricity industry jobs could be created in Victoria by 2030.
Nearly 4600 would be in power plant construction and about 1200 in manufacturing. More than 1000 would be permanent roles running new plants.
The total number of jobs in the industry would rise over the next five years as wind and gas plants were built, dip in the second half of the decade, but then grow dramatically after 2020 as more clean-energy technologies became commercially viable.
The report suggests about 40 per cent of Victoria's electricity could come from clean sources by 2030, up from 5 per cent today.
Gas-fired power, with about a third the emissions of brown coal, would also expand dramatically to provide about a third of the state's electricity.
Specific projections for Victoria include:
■ More than 1500 jobs created in wind and geothermal energy in the south-west around Warrnambool, Portland and Hamilton. ■ Nearly 1200 new jobs relating to building and running large-scale solar plants in the Mallee. ■ About 600 new jobs in wind in the central highlands around Ballarat and Bendigo. ■ In the Latrobe Valley, the loss of about 500 permanent jobs in coal power, but the creation of 720 construction jobs building new gas and renewable plants.
The modelling does not consider the impact of the possible implementation of carbon capture and storage technology.
The jobs figures are based on a carbon price starting at $47 in 2012, the national 20 per cent renewable energy target, and policies to encourage clean technologies, including loan guarantees and tax credits.
The research won the support of the ACTU and several energy companies.
Tony Maher, the president of the mining and energy union, applauded the Climate Institute for focusing on jobs, skills and training as the key to Australia cutting emissions.