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In 60 Seconds: An economist explains climate change

We’ve all heard the story with climate change. The bees are dying, the icecaps are melting, and a few tenths of a degree could mean that we don’t have a future. Terms like “carbon tax” and “emissions trading scheme” are thrown around, but nobody seems to understand what they really mean. So, we spoke to…


Name: Rachel Power

Studied: Bachelor of Business (Honours) in Economics at UTS

Career post graduation: Graduate Economist at Deloitte Access Economics



The Great Barrier Reef: too big to fail

We’ve all seen the dramatic pictures of coral bleaching, a bleak reminder that you better book your trip to Queensland ASAP because time is quite literally running out. Before chatting to Rachel, I knew that the Great Barrier Reef dying was an environmental disaster – but I definitely didn’t realise it was also an economic one.


During our conversation, Rachel pointed out that people often worry about what will happen to jobs if we make climate friendly economic decisions (e.g. “what happens to the manufacturers that produce plastic bags?).


But if we look at an example like Great Barrier Reef, it shows that


“Deloitte Access Economics found that the Great Barrier Reef supports 39,000 direct jobs. That’s about three or four times the number of people who work at Deloitte in Australia and almost double the number of employees at Qantas,” Rachel told me.

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This already enormous number increases to 64,000 if we look more broadly at tourism jobs relating to the Great Barrier Reef, meaning that there are a lot of people who are impacted by decisions made about the Reef and its conservation.

“If it was a bank or a big financial company, the government might be saying, ‘It’s too big to fail’. Just in terms of economic value.  So, the point of the report was to ask why we aren’t using the same economic framework that you use for big corporates, to look at the Great Barrier Reef.”

According to Rachel, economics and climate change are actually really closely linked. 'Economics experts can look at what kind of economic policies can be used to reduce our carbon emissions or to



Effectively, economists like her do the legwork to help business make smart economic decisions. “For example, will it make a difference if we charge 10c for a plastic bag at Woolies? Will that change people’s behaviour so that they make a climate friendly decision?”


If this job sounds interesting to you, you can find out more about the course Rachel studied. We also think you’ll enjoy Rachel explaining gender diversity in 60 seconds.

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