Cross-sector roundtable wants real climate moves
An odd coupling of business, union, environmental, investor and welfare groups has come together to push for action on climate change.
The Australian Climate Roundtable – a highly unusual coalition – has been formed in preparation for the Paris Climate Conference in December, where leaders of developed nation will face pressure to improve their strategies to tackle the causes and risks of climate change.
Australia's two main political parties have recently backed the international goal of trying to cap climate change at 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The new Australian Climate Roundtable says that objective will require “deep global reductions”.
The roundtable’s members come from a broad range of influential employer and industry lobby groups, including the Australian Industry (Ai) Group, the Business Council of Australia (BCA), the Australian Aluminium Council, the Energy Supply Association and the Investor Group on Climate Change.
They have found common ground with groups normally at the opposite end of the political and social spectrum - the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), WWF Australia, the Australian Council of Social Service, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and the Climate Institute.
“We believe Australia should play its fair part in global efforts to avoid the serious economic, social and environmental impacts that unconstrained climate change would have on Australia,” an Australian Climate Roundtable statement says.
The group has issued a bold warning to the Federal Government, saying “delayed, unpredictable and piecemeal action will increase the costs and challenges of achieving the goals and maximising the opportunities”.
“We also know that policies won't work if they don't last and stay on investors' radars,” the statement said.
“The foundations of climate policy need broad and durable support, and we all have a role in building it.”
The group says an ideal climate policy to present at the Paris conference would include:
- deep reductions in Australia's net emissions;
- confidence that targeted emissions reductions actually occur;
- awareness of the full range of climate risks;
- a stable and internationally-linked design;
- operation at a low cost to the domestic economy; and
- efficiency that can be maintained as Australia’s emissions reduction goals evolve
The Roundtable said Australia must push for its climate policy to:
- protect vulnerable individuals;
- avoid disproportionate impacts on low-income households; and
- assist communities vulnerable to economic shocks or physical risks due to climate change or climate policy
A number of prominent figures from the groups involved have spoken to ABC reporters.
“There is now overwhelming common ground on the need for a more certain and meaningful approach to emissions reduction,” BCA chief Jennifer Westacott said.
“The shared recognition that we need to maintain competitiveness while reducing emissions over time is a major advance and a solid platform for future policy stability,” Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox said.
“Taking action on climate change, and investing and supporting the local clean energy industry, is vital if Australia is to create and capitalise on the high-skilled innovative clean tech jobs of the future,” said ACTU president Ged Kearney.
It is “an unlikely alliance, but we've come together because the challenge of tackling global warming is bigger than any of our differences”, according to ACF chief executive Kelly O'Shanassy.
“Among the things we have in common is a shared goal for Australia to cut its net greenhouse pollution to zero or below.”
Environment Minister Greg Hunt says the Government will announce its post-2020 target for emissions soon, and hopes to play “a constructive role” at the Paris conference.