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Jobs news: Jobs and growth are green – and getting greener

Kulja Coulston is moving on after

What’s with all the jobs movement in the climate and sustainability campaign/advocacy space? As if we didn’t know – this sector is on the move. 

It’s showing up in general interest and motivation, in member growth and last week in a “fabulous little set of numbers” from the NSW Innovation and Productivity Council.

The research showed that domestic sales growth in the EGS, or environmental goods and services sector, was 7.1 per cent compared to 2.6 in the overall economy, or old economy as we prefer to call it.

Total value in the 2017-18 period was up to $43.9 billion, $10.9 billion of which was in renewable energy. The state’s overall economy, on the other hand, rose by just 2.6 per cent to $593 billion.

Even better is that jobs grew by 6 per cent compared with 

1.6 per cent in the old economy.

Those putting on new staff include ClimateWorks, which has enticed Kulja Coulston away from a nice gig editing Sanctuary magazine for the rebranded Renew, previously the Alternative Technology Association.

Coulston says she’s leaving the mag in great shape. 

She told The Fifth Estate on Monday the mag is up in terms of sales, and readership as is the organisation as a whole partly but not entirely the result of the rebranded new website.

In the past three and half year there’s been member growth in the organisation of about 20 per cent, she said, reflecting growing consumer interest in sustainability.

There’s a strong cohort of people, she says, who are increasingly committed to low carbon, low impact living that’s more comfortable to boot. 

“A really sustainable, really low carbon home is not a big leap and can be built by being smarter,” she says. And it’s a message that’s seeping through. Regardless of the election. The vote she thinks was more a vote of caution rather than a vote against the environment.

Meanwhile, any talented editors, please apply to the Sanctuary team.

At 350.Org, there’s also new blood at the helm, with 

Lucy Manne appointed new chief executive officer of 350.Org’s Australia team, replacing Blair Palese who steps down after an amazing 10 years in the job, filled with some high profile campaigns that hit the national stage and at times significantly irritated those on the other side.

Manne will take the reins in July after a decade in the climate justice movement, as former national co-director of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition where she was named the Prime Minister’s Young Environmentalist of the Year in 2013.

She has also campaigned with the Wilderness Society and Climate Action Network Australia and most recently was at women’s rights organisation ActionAid Australia.

Glen Klatovsky who will also continue as deputy CEO.

“As a long-term admirer of the 350 movement in Australia and across the world, it’s a huge honour to be joining the team,” Manne said. “We are at a critical juncture in the fight for climate justice, and it’s more important than ever to be building grassroots campaigns in solidarity with those most affected by the climate crisis.”

The Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA) is looking for a new general manager in a modest increase in capacity for the team designed to free up some time for chief executive officer Kate Harris for a bigger focus on strategy, advocacy and policy.

It’s needed, she told The Fifth Estate on Monday. The numbers in jobs and growth might look good in NSW but most of that is in the energy sector, she says. In sustainable procurement there is still a lot of work to do.

Interest was steady, she said, but not overly enthusiastic, with stronger transformation possibly three or four year away. For now the going refrain was best summed up by what she heard just last week, “don’t do it unless you really have to”.

On the repercussions from the election the mood is that business leadership is increasingly important, she said, along with consumer support.

“I actually think there is a fair bit of consumer support. I actually think that consumers and the younger generation are ready for it and what’s important is to work with groups to drive the next level for businesses.”

Quoting Paul Gilding, who made a star appearance at the 1 million women 10th birthday event at Sydney’s Eveleigh on Saturday, social change happens just when you think nothing is happening, or when you think it’s all too hard.

Hold that thought. And also throw in that big social movements are pushed back sometimes several times before breaking through. 

Out and about this week was a sense of recovering shock. Thing is it’s being replaced by more fierce determination than we think deniers and go-slowers might ever have imagined. 

Not the least because it seems clear this sector is on its own. Over and over we’re reminded that actually half the people voted for climate action, that more than 70 per cent consistently support action and that regardless of whatever motivated the vote to go to the Coalition this time that support for serious action has not gone away.

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