Australian business, government leaders discuss path to the low carbon economy

23 July 2009

Sydney: Australian Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan met with senior business leaders on Thursday to discuss Australia's low carbon transformation. Convened by The Climate Group, the discussion covered some key policy issues including how to encourage investment in large-scale green infrastructure and how to support businesses who want to go carbon neutral.

Long a supporter of action on climate change, the Treasurer emphasised the importance of listening to progressive businesses who will continue to be central players in Australia's climate change response. "It's great to hear from those people who provide drive and leadership in our economy about these key issues. Forums like this are a great opportunity to do just that," concluded the Treasurer at the end of the meeting.

CEOs from the finance, energy, property and media industries provided a diverse range of views, but agreed that they had a shared responsibility and a desire to lead the way on climate change. All the businesses present agreed that certainty and consistency in Government policy was paramount. Among the businesses that attended were Climate Group members HSBC, Munich Re, News Limited, BP and Baker & McKenzie.

"There is a deep desire from companies to take the lead on climate change. Innovation in resource efficiency can present a real opportunity for Australia, especially in light of the possible gains through smarter building design and refurbishment," said Lend Lease CEO Rod Leaver.

"This is a social movement. Progress on climate change will happen because people want it," said Carl McCamish of Origin Energy.

"This Government is offering us a long-term vision. What we must offer is well-informed honesty and transparency about the long-term future of our businesses, and not simply focus on next year's outlook," said BP Australasia CEO Gerry Hueston.

Recommendations offered at today's roundtable will feed into the Government's review of the tax system, as well as Government policy on climate change more broadly. In particular, the Treasurer heard evidence on the jobs opportunity available in retrofit schemes for existing buildings, about issues relating to the current gap in long-term capital for renewable energy, and the benefits that would be gained by government support for a national transmission system and smart grid roll out.

Rupert Posner, Australian Director of The Climate Group said, "Australia's emissions-intensive energy mix means that we can make comparatively big emissions savings from energy efficiency measures and renewable energy investment. Australian companies stand ready to meet this challenge, a message the Treasurer was encouraged to hear in these difficult economic times."

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