The Business Council of Australia has backed independent MP Zali Steggall’s proposed climate change legislation, saying it provides a high-level policy framework that can work as a starting point to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 in Australia.
The Business Council of Australia represents Australia’s largest employers across industries like mining, retail, banking, energy and manufacturing.
In a submission to a parliamentary inquiry of Stegall’s climate action proposal, Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said it was a “science-based, risk-management approach” to addressing climate change, which aligned with how businesses and their shareholders are responding to climate-related risks.
Stegall’s private members proposal, which was introduced to parliament last year and is now before a parliamentary inquiry, seeks to provide a national, long-term framework for climate change mitigation and adaption, including a net zero emissions by 2050 target. The framework requires the federal government to set a rolling emissions budget to meet the target and establish an independent climate change commission that would act as an independent arbiter to guide policy. It would introduce a climate risk assessment plan and include the government’s current technology investment roadmap.
The framework is based on similar legislation in the UK and New Zealand, and would align federal climate policy with state government and the private sector’s commitment to net zero emissions by 2050.
“Having a very clear set of government policy ‘goal posts’ would enable company directors to focus their resources and efforts more efficiently with respect to climate-related transition risks,” Westacott wrote in the submission from the Business Council of Australia.
“The proposed legislation reinforces the need for a collaborative approach that brings together all impacted stakeholders to enable a planned and coordinated transition to net-zero emissions.”
To date, there have been more than 700 submissions from individuals, groups and businesses uploaded to the parliamentary inquiry for Steggall’s proposed legislation. The vast majority express strong support, and some provide suggestions for amendments.
Some of the other businesses and organisations to have made submissions include: Atlassian, Tesla, Origin Energy, Future Super, the Australian Medical Association, the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia, the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, Public Health Association of Australia, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Australian Council of Social Services, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Amnesty International, the Australian Education Union, the National Farmers Federation, Science and Technology Australia and the Property Council of Australia.
Despite the wide private sector support for Steggall’s bill, the Morrison government has not shown interest in debating it in parliament. Labor has not made its position clear, but the bill has been backed by many crossbenchers including Helen Haines, Rebekha Sharkie, Andrew Wilkie and the Greens.