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Top Australian science agency reveals plan for economic recovery from COVID-19 pandemic

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 11:08, September 17, 2020

CANBERRA, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- Australia's national science agency has released a plan for the economic recovery from the COVID-19-induced recession.

In a report published on Wednesday, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) identified the opportunities for key industries in the country, "to leverage science and technology and help restore economic growth and resilience."

It highlighted six industries - agriculture, manufacturing, digital, mineral resources, health and energy - that could capitalize on the trends to create jobs and investment opportunities over the next 6-24 months.

"At this pivotal time in our history, the inclination is to batten down the hatches and postpone investments, when actually we need to double down on Australian innovation, because science and technology can drive our recovery from this pandemic-led recession and land us back in a much stronger position," Larry Marshall, chief executive of the CSIRO, said in a statement.

"COVID-19 has disrupted every element of our lives, and while the devastating loss of life can't be understated, we have an opportunity to determine the new kind of Australia we want to emerge from this crisis.

"Just as science and technology have been guiding our health and emergency response, so too will they drive our economic response and recovery from this pandemic."

The report found that Australia has advantages in each industry.

In the digital industry it said that Australia has "world-leading expertise", in energy it has "exceptional natural resources and geography", in agriculture a "history of world-class research", in health a "global reputation for quality", in manufacturing "untapped education and research skills" and in minerals an "endowment of natural resources."

Katherine Wynn, CSIRO Futures Lead Economist, said by acting now those industries could increase productivity and cost efficiencies and lead the nation's recovery from its first recession in 29 years.

"Energy efficient technologies is one immediate way to reduce energy costs, emissions and demand on the grid while creating local jobs, and we see many opportunities for increased productivity, such as energy efficient appliances in buildings and electric vehicles in transport that use mature technologies that are readily adoptable today," she said.

The report was published one day after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed a plan for a gas-led recovery from the economic crisis.

The plan, which includes developing five key basins, establishing an Australian Gas Hub and setting up a National Gas Infrastructure Plan, has been met with opposition by environmentalists.

"Renewables are getting cheaper and gas keeps getting more expensive, so Scott Morrison's plan to tie Australia to gas is just a plan to throw public money at his mates in the gas industry," Adam Bandt, the leader of the Greens Party, said recently, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

In late August, a coalition of 25 leading climate scientists sent an open letter to Alan Finkel, Australia's Chief Scientist, warning his advocacy for increased use of gas-fired electricity was at odds with the Paris climate agreement.

"The combustion of natural gas is now the fastest growing source of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, the most important greenhouse gas driving climate change," the scientists' letter said.

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