As Christmas approaches and many of us are consumed with preparing for the silly season - it is worth taking a moment to consider how Australian businesses could be making a more positive contribution to both the environment and new job creation in one simple step.
At a time when we are living through climate extremes manifesting in bushfires, droughts, and extreme weather events both in Australia and all over the world - there is one step that Australian businesses could take today that would both cut our emissions and create more employment opportunities: moving to 100% renewable energy.
In fact, as part of Greenpeace Australia Pacific's REenergise campaign and report, we have calculated that over 10,000 construction job-years and over 5000 new ongoing jobs would be created if 80 of the biggest and best-known brands in Australia made the switch to 100% renewable - brands like Telstra, Woolworths and Coles.
The report also profiles and analyses some of Australia's biggest businesses who have already made the commitment to 100% renewable energy, revealing that key motivating factors are cost savings, diversification of risk, staff and customer expectations, reputational benefits, and the importance of meeting climate and emissions reduction targets.
These trailblazing companies are showing that going 100% renewable not only makes sense for the environment - it also makes good business sense. There is now significant momentum with corporate commitments to 100% renewable energy, both in Australia and around the world.
It might surprise you to know as you enjoy a cold beer over Christmas lunch that Australia's largest brewery - Carlton & United Breweries - will from early 2020 be powered with 100% renewable electricity.They are doing this by signing a big deal to purchase energy from the Karadoc solar farm in Mildura, Victoria, as well as installing on site solar panels at their Yatala and Abbotsford breweries in QLD and Victoria.
But its not only beer. Soon your furniture, makeup, M&Ms, computer - and even banking and internet transactions - could be renewable powered too. Household names like, IKEA, L'Oreal, Mars, Apple, Google, and the big four banks have all made 100% renewable electricity commitments.
Thanks to these and other businesses switching to renewable energy, at least 25 new solar and wind farms are now under construction in Australia. This is bringing all important jobs and new economic opportunity to rural towns and regions otherwise dealing with the significant impact of drought.
Companies are making the switch to renewable energy because it's cheaper, cleaner and better for business. There is enormous potential for corporations to help power the economy today with clean and affordable renewable energy.
In fact, if the largest 13 retail companies in Australia made the shift, it would create sufficient demand to build 2.4GW of new renewable energy - enough to power all the homes in WA and NT, as well as creating 4300 construction job-years for Australian workers.
Just imagine if the roof of every Coles, Woolworths and Bunnings store in Australia was covered with solar panels. We have all the space, and the sun - let's use it! Between job creation and climate action, it's a win-win situation.
And these benefits would flow across all sectors of the Australian economy. For example, if just 10 of Australia's largest energy-using companies in the property and construction sector powering their operations with 100% renewable energy, it would create more than 1000 new construction job-years. And it's happening. Five of these 10 have already made 100% renewable or net-zero emissions commitments.
And if the 14 largest telecommunications, IT, and technology companies - like Telstra, Optus and Vodafone - powered their operations with 100% renewable energy, it would lead to 1GW of new wind and solar projects, enough to power over 600,000 homes, and create around 2,000 construction job-years.