May 24, 2010 - 1:30pm
A vital new corporate partnership focused on promoting Australian business investment in climate action, clean energy and pollution reduction was launched by The Climate Institute today.
The Climate Partners are businesses who share a resolve that Australia should not be left behind in the journey that other economies and companies are undertaking towards the expected multi–trillion dollar markets already emerging in clean energy and pollution reduction.
Westpac is The Climate Institute’s Leading Climate Partner in the unique initiative which brings together a range of companies who are leaders in sectors including finance, energy, infrastructure, transport and communications. Westpac is joined by Major Climate Partners KPMG, Pacific Hydro and Ogilvy Earth along with GE, AGL and Better Place.
“The Climate Partners network will provide an important platform to promote business leadership in driving climate change solutions and better inform the policy debate,” said The Climate Institute’s CEO John Connor.
“Global low-carbon investments and industries are growing rapidly but Australia is missing the boat because of policy uncertainty on its plan to reduce climate pollution.
“Clean energy industries and jobs are already being lost to our competitors in China, South Korea and Europe where ambitious clean energy policies are being put in place.”
Peter Hanlon, Westpac's Group Executive People and Transformation, said Westpac is committed to working with Australians and Australian businesses to reduce emissions. "Climate change is a mega trend and business issue that’s not going away - at this stage our focus is to get on with the practical solutions which reduce emissions,” said Mr Hanlon.
"We've long realised that sustainability challenges are complex and can only be effectively tackled collaboratively - hence our partnership with The Climate Institute.”
Mr Hanlon said that Westpac would use the partnership to accelerate Westpac's response on specific climate change priorities including clean energy investment and adaptation.
With this in mind, The Climate Institute and Westpac commissioned Bloomberg New Energy Finance to model Australian and global clean energy investments to 2020 and the impact of renewable energy investment on emissions reductions.
The report, Renewable energy investment opportunities and abatement in Australia, finds that while an amended renewable energy target will begin to restructure our polluting power sector and drive billions of dollars of investment in new technologies and skills, Australia’s carbon pollution will continue to soar without price signals and other policies to make companies take responsibility for their pollution.
Even the unilateral carbon pollution reduction target of 5%, shared by both major parties, is likely to be missed by over 170 million tonnes in 2020, almost 30% of 2008 Australian pollution levels. The 25% target, also with bi-partisan support but conditional on global action, would be missed by 270 million tonnes, almost half, 46.5%, of 2008 levels.
“The renewable energy target is critical to cost-effective planning to reduce our economy’s dependence on polluting industries. However, without a market mechanism to send a price signal that makes companies take responsibility for their pollution, Australia’s pollution will be
rising at a time when it should start falling,” said Mr Connor.
“A price on carbon is inevitable. The choice we have is to delay and suffer the economic pain of being a high-carbon economy, in a low-carbon world, or put in policy signals to drive the change needed to safeguard our competitiveness and prosperity.
“We look forward to working with our Climate Partners to create the policy certainty and investment that is needed to drive a rapid transition to a prosperous low-carbon economy.”