The Australian Climate Roundtable, an unprecedented alliance of major Australian business, union, research, environment, investor and social groups has come together to put the climate policy debate on common ground and offer a way forward.
The Australian Climate Roundtable discussions have involved the Australian Aluminium Council, the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Australian Council of Social Service, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Australian Industry Group, the Business Council of Australia, The Climate Institute, the Energy Supply Association of Australia, the Investor Group on Climate Change and WWF Australia.
Australia’s major political parties support the global community’s goal of limiting climate change to less than 2°C above preindustrial levels. Australia should play its fair part in these efforts while maintaining and increasing its prosperity.
That important but challenging objective will require deep global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, with most countries including Australia eventually reducing net emissions to zero or below. Net emissions are inclusive of trade in emissions entitlements and the removal of carbon from the atmosphere. Emissions reductions on the necessary scale will require substantial change and present significant challenges in Australia as well as other countries. Well-designed policy will be important to manage the challenges along the way.
Our broad coalition has come together because climate change and climate policy both impact our missions and members. We believe Australia should play its fair part in global efforts to avoid 2°C and the serious economic, social and environmental impacts that unconstrained climate change would have on Australia. Avoiding unconstrained climate change will provide important benefits and opportunities to Australia.
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 foundations of climate policy need broad and durable support, and we all have a role in building it.
We found that groups with very different constituencies and missions have much in common and this is captured in our joint principles for climate policy, which we have released today.
This has been a tumultuous area of policy development on a major challenge for Australia that isn’t going away. We thought it important to reset the objectives, principles and key priorities to make the next phase of policy development as civil and constructive as possible.
Our principles address the goals of climate policy and the characteristics of policies to meet the goals. They don’t end debate or prescribe a single solution. The principles set out common ground on which more detailed policy can be built. We have discussed them with both major parties and look forward to further constructive dialogue. We encourage the Australian community to consider and support these principles.
The Australian Climate Roundtable will continue to work together to ensure that climate policy meets our nation’s economic, environmental and social needs.
The Australian Climate Roundtable’s joint policy principles
Australian Aluminium Council Executive Secretary Miles Prosser said: “It is time to set climate policy on a path that will efficiently reduce emissions while also enhancing economic prosperity and maintaining industry competitiveness.”
Australian Conservation Foundation Chief Executive Officer Kelly O’Shanassy said “This is an unlikely alliance, but we’ve come together because the challenge of tackling global warming is bigger than any of our differences. Among the things we have in common is a shared goal for Australia to cut its net greenhouse pollution to zero or below.”
Australian Council of Social Service Chief Executive Officer Cassandra Goldie said “People experiencing poverty and inequality will be hardest hit by the negative impacts of climate change and the least able to adapt. The only way to develop stable and equitable policies to avoid 2 degree global warming is to work together. The Climate Roundtable exemplifies the commitment of its members to help Australia maximize the opportunities and reduce the risks associated with climate change.”
Australian Council of Trade Unions President Ged Kearney 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.”
Australian Industry Group Chief Executive Innes Willox said “These principles will help end the frustration and disruption that business has faced from ever-changing climate policy. 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.”
Business Council of Australia Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott said “It is significant that a broad cross-section of groups have agreed to an important set of principles to send climate policy in Australia in the right direction and avoid years of costly policy uncertainty and reversals. There is now overwhelming common ground on the need for a more certain and meaningful approach to emissions reduction.”
Climate Institute Chief Executive Officer John Connor said “The Climate Roundtable statement is a shared recognition that helping avoid 2 degree warming is in Australia’s economic, social and environmental interest. This shared position should renew, revitalise and guide discussion on how to achieve this priority and to help build a resilient Australia prospering in a zero carbon global economy.”
Energy Supply Association of Australia Chief Executive Officer Matthew Warren said “Effective and efficient measures to reduce emissions and meet the challenges of the 21st century will need to be delivered over a generation or longer; they require broad, common support and enduring policies.”
Investor Group on Climate Change Chairman Frank Pegan said “We have come together because we want to invest our efforts in a way that avoids unconstrained climate change and we need a durable policy environment to support that effort.”
WWF Australia Chief Executive Officer Dermot O’Gorman said “We have come together because climate change is more than just an environmental issue; it presents significant risks to our economy, infrastructure, jobs, water, health, food and lives, with the greatest burden falling on our kids. But there are opportunities, which is why we are asking our leaders to do the right thing and act now to build a cleaner more sustainable future for the people and places we love.”
The Australian Climate Roundtable’s joint policy principles