As widely reported in today’s media, Ai Group and a broad coalition of business, environment, social and other groups have released joint principles for climate policy. This grouping, the Australian Climate Roundtable, represents a recognition that while the politics of Australian climate policy has been tangled and hotly contested, there is a lot of common ground between groups from across many sectors.
In an opinion piece for The Australian, the group writes that:
“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 don’t end debate or prescribe a single solution. They set out common ground on which more detailed policy can be built.”
What this initiative involves is all groups recognising the others’ critical needs.
Ai Group and other business groups have found agreement from environmental and social groups that the competitiveness of trade-exposed industries should not be eroded by the uneven international application of climate policies; that climate policy should achieve its objectives at least cost, including through use of genuine international abatement options to ease the domestic transition; that policy shocks to the energy sector should be smoothed; and that business needs policy stability to invest.
In turn, we have agreed that climate policy needs to be capable of achieving the extremely deep emissions reductions required to meet the global goal of keeping temperature increases below 2°C, and that Australia should play its fair part in these global efforts. Equity impacts of climate policy need to be addressed.
There is a lot of content to the principles, which describe important and substantial common ground – the existence of which has not been widely recognised until now. Australia’s political parties do not yet agree on much in climate policy – beyond the 2020 unconditional -5% target and the overall less-than-2°C goal. At present we face the risk of many more years of turbulent, contested and ineffectual policy, which would benefit nobody. The joint principles – and the goodwill they embody – should be the start of efforts to bring all parties together on an effective framework that business can work with.
What do the Joint Principles for Climate Policy mean to you and your business? Share your thoughts below.
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