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Sunshot: Australia’s opportunity to create 395,000 clean export jobs

Energy transition Job creation Energy industries Exports Energy resources Australia

Australia’s exports are dominated by fossil fuels and high embodied carbon products. Among Australia’s top 10 exported goods, which together represent 60% of total export value, 97% are either fossil fuels, products with high embodied emissions, or inputs into high-emissions processes. Australia’s exports are also significantly more emissions intensive than those of other countries: Australia ranks in the top 3 for exported fossil fuel emissions behind Russia and Saudi Arabia.

These exports are now at risk due to the increased global focus on combating climate change. Demand for thermal coal—which represents 6% of Australia’s current exports—is expected to decline 80% globally by 2050 in the IEA’s net zero by 2050 scenario. Many countries including our major export destinations (e.g. China, Japan, Korea) have adopted net zero carbon targets. Demand for Australia’s high carbon embodied products is also at risk due to regulations that tax carbon-intensive imports such as the European Union’s planned carbon border adjustment mechanism.

This report explores six clean export opportunities in clean energy, technologies and services that can fuel Australia’s growth in the low emissions economy. There are two sets of opportunities: energy and minerals; and technology and services.

In energy and minerals, three opportunities stand out:

  1. Exporting hydrogen or ammonia produced with renewable energy
  2. Processing and exporting higher value metals (e.g. steel and aluminium) using renewable energy
  3. Exporting minerals critical for production of clean energy technology

In technology and services, there are three leading opportunities:

  1. Exporting batteries manufactured in Australia
  2. Exporting education and training services built on our strong clean energy economy
  3. Providing clean energy services
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