The sweet taste of carbon border adjustments

It was a project that Ai Group’s “climate guy” Tennant Reed thought would take a few months but ended up taking five years.

So, to celebrate today’s release of his report Swings and Roundabouts, which analyses how Europe’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism will affect Australia, Mr Reed arranged the delivery of this memorable and very special treat.

The choc-hazelnut cake features an edible image of the cover of his 70-page, 28,000-word document.

“I’m delighted,” Mr Reed said.

“I thought that this report would be a quick exercise that could get done in a few months, so having something to show for all the hours sunk into this over the years is great.

“Even though it’s taken so long, it’s been really satisfying to build up a level of knowledge and expertise on this topic.

“There’s not that many people in the world who have focused on this area.

“It’s good to have pushed the boundaries on thinking and knowledge in this area, which is proving to be of greater significance to members than we would have expected a couple of years ago and may turn out in the longer term to be directly very helpful for them. Not just understanding a threat but maybe taking advantage of an opportunity.”

Mr Reed first started thinking about carbon border adjustments in 2015 while attending the Paris Climate Conference.

“That was an amazing experience,” he said.

“I heard from a lot of incredible experts, officials, scientists and people from all walks of life and one of the things that kept emerging in discussions was the intersection between trade and climate and the potential for carbon border adjustments.

“So, I came back after the conference and started researching and started to get more and more interested.

“This was a topic that always seemed important but for a long time, it did not seem urgent.

“Meanwhile, a lot of other things kept happening in Australia in energy policy and climate policy: reviews on the Renewable Energy Target, the National Energy Guarantee, elections.

“All sorts of things kept coming up that I urgently needed to work on.

“So, about every six months, I would be able to do a burst of work on border adjustments and then something would intervene.

“It wasn’t until last year when actual momentum around Europe proposing and implementing a border adjustment started to take shape that finally importance and urgency aligned and I was able to, in good conscience, set aside the continuous time needed to make it happen.”

Mr Reed said many audiences would find the report relevant.

“It will be useful to member companies hearing about carbon tariffs coming in and understanding how they might be affected,” he said.

“The second audience is policy makers within Australia; in the Government and opposition, in various departments looking at how we respond to what Europe is doing and how we design our own policy going forward.

“We’re trying to broaden their understanding and move that debate along.

“What I’m really looking forward to is all the conversations and further work that can result once people are more aware of this concept, and we can start having more of a discourse about it rather than it being something that people are hearing for the first time.”

Read the full Swings and Roundabouts report here

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Wendy Larter is the Senior Content Writer at Ai Group. She is a former journalist with more than 20 years’ experience as a reporter, features writer, contributor and sub-editor for newspapers and magazines including The Courier-Mail in Brisbane and Metro, News of the World, The Times and Elle in the UK.

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