Business and industry alliance sets out climate ‘principles’, including that climate policy should be ‘capable of achieving deep reductions’ in emissions.
An unprecedented alliance of business, welfare and environmental groups and trade unions is demanding an end to Australia’s decade of political paralysis and division on climate policy, insisting the Abbott government make credible emission reduction commitments and the major parties agree on how the pledges should be implemented.
In an attempt to reset the bitter political debate on climate policy, the powerful line-up of interest groups has reached a historic agreement on “principles” that should guide Australia’s climate policy.
The principles do not explicitly mention the Abbott government’s Direct Action climate plan or the former Labor government’s emissions trading scheme, but they include objectives Direct Action fails to meet in its current form – including being “internationally linked”, being “capable of achieving deep reductions” and achieving greenhouse reductions “across all sections of the economy”.
Another principle is that policies should “prevent the unnecessary loss of competitiveness by Australia’s trade-exposed industries” – a charge levelled against Labor’s ETS by the Coalition, who repealed it.
Crucially, the new principles demand a policy that allows Australia to play a fair role in limiting global warming to 2C and eventually achieves no net greenhouse emissions – meaning more emissions are taken out of the atmosphere or bought from overseas than emitted by activities in Australia.
Groups included in the “climate roundtable”, which has been meeting secretly for more than a year, are the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Industry Group, the Australian Aluminium Council, the Investor Group on Climate Change, the Australian Conservation Foundation, WWF, the Energy Supply Association of Australia (ESAA), the Australian Aluminium Council and the ACTU.
“This is born of collective frustration,” said the chief executive of the ESAA, Matthew Warren.
“We are tired of the politicking on climate policy. We have had a decade of policy uncertainty … we need a target and we need an agreed policy to get there, but we have to know we aren’t going to keep changing track,” he said.
Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said the aim of the exercise was to “send climate policy in the right direction and avoid years of costly policy uncertainty and reversals”.
Press link for more: Lenore Taylor | theguardian.com