Australia could lose more than $3 trillion dollars over the next 50 years without action on climate change

Wind turbines and smoke from a power plant with electrical lines in the distance.

The year 2070 will see Australia’s economy $3.4 trillion worse off and with 880,000 fewer jobs if a more sustainable path to growth isn’t developed, according to Deloitte Access Economics.

The new report details economic shrinking across the country and a wide range of industries seeing huge losses if carbon emissions continue unchecked. 

Mining, manufacturing, tourism and service industries are expected to be the biggest losers over the next 50 years, each foregoing between $330 billion to $1.5 trillion in growth. Everything from severe weather impacting people’s ability to work, to land degradation reducing tourism are cited as contributing factors.

There is a beacon of hope, though. Deloitte suggests a change in tack could turn the numbers around significantly. 

The report anticipates $680 billion in growth and 250,000 jobs added to the economy in the same timeframe if the Australian government makes policy choices aimed at reducing emissions in the next two to three years.

While this is based on 2020 research from Deloitte, it’s certainly a message Australians have heard numerous times from reputable sources like the OECD and Climate Council. So, why haven’t we seen a more enthusiastic response from government?

Primary author of the Deloitte report, Dr Pradeep Philip said it’s because there is a fundamental flaw in the climate change debate.

“We view the costs of [climate] action against an economic future where the basic assumption is that the economy will keep growing with unconstrained emissions,” Philip said.

“In its place, this report develops a baseline where unconstrained emissions are not consistent with unconstrained growth.”

Business forging ahead on emission reduction

While policy may not be moving as fast as climate action proponents suggest it should, businesses are taking their own strides towards a more sustainable future.

Just last week ANZ announced it would halt lending to some of its largest business customers if they can’t present carbon transition strategies by next year. This is part of a larger plan to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, with crucial changes kicking into gear in 2021.

Other banks, insurers, superannuation funds and various retail and service providers have also jumped on the wave B Corp certification. To become a B Corp business, you have to meet sustainability criteria, alongside a host of ethical and transparent business processes. 

The upshot is this registration puts your business on a list which continuously assesses and proves your dedication to the environment and a more inclusive society. This can be a big selling point for more mindful consumers – a spending group on the rise in 2020.

Beyond company profit, Philip said the sobering numbers from Deloitte’s report should get businesses looking towards long-term goals.

“By 2050 Australia will experience economic losses on par with COVID every single year if we don’t address climate change. That would compromise the economic future of all future generations of Australians,” he said.

“Both government and private sector investment needs to get cracking to accelerate Australia’s inevitable shift to a low emission future. Every day’s delay costs Australians more.”

Can you make profitable green moves at home?

If you’re not a bank or insurance company but you are looking to make cost-saving sustainable moves, investigate your energy bill. 

Mozo research has found green plans are cheaper than standard electricity options. You could save between $32 and $257 a year depending on your state and power distribution zone.

Beyond this, you can look for ethical ways to save, including more sustainable banking and spending choices.