Business leaders urged to come clean on targets Media Release

Nov 25, 2008 - 1:00am

The independent Climate Institute today challenged business leaders to introduce balance to the debate on climate policy and reveal their position on Australia’s 2020 pollution reduction targets and what they believe are safe long-term global pollution levels.

In an unprecedented move, the Institute has placed adverts in the Australian Financial Review, The Australian and the Courier Mail and is writing to Business Council of Australia and all its members.

“The financial crisis has shown how important it is to balance long-term and short term interests yet from many of our polluters and business leaders all we have heard are concerns about short-term challenges,” said John Connor, Climate Institute CEO.

The policy debate is at a critical juncture with the Government about to decide on Australia’s 2020 carbon pollution reduction target range before global climate ministerial negotiations beginning next week in Poznan, Poland.

“If business leaders are to have credibility they need to restore the balance in this discussion, and so we are asking them what they think are safe long term global levels for greenhouse gases and, in turn, where they think Australia should set its 2020 and long-term pollution reduction levels.”

“To their credit, most now accept the science of climate change but remaining silent on objectives climate scientists are recommending, such as stabilising global atmospheric greenhouse gas levels below 450 parts per million, allows them to avoid the urgency of action to achieve this.”

“Accepting the science, but avoiding its implications, is a ‘greenwash’ of epic and global proportions. Business owes more to future generations.”

The world’s top climate scientists say to achieve around 450ppm, developed countries need to reduce 1990 level emissions by 25 – 40 % by 2020 as part of a global effort.

Professor Garnaut recommended Australia’s contribution to this global effort would be 25% reductions off 2000 levels (for Australia about the same as 1990 levels because of land clearing reductions) by 2020. Treasury and others have shown that, not only can we afford this, but our economy would reap long-term gains by tapping into the emerging multi- billion dollar low-carbon economy.

“The Garnaut Review concluded achieving global levels below 450ppm is in our national interest and it is vital that Australia keeps up the global ambition for this long term objective by including in its 2020 target range at least 25 % carbon pollution reductions off 1990/2000 levels.”

“This debate is too serious to allow some participants just to focus on side of the debate.  It is time business leaders came clean on their 2020 and long term objectives for ensuring a safe climate for future generations and long term, low carbon, competiveness for our economy,” concluded Mr Connor.

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