Statement from BCA Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott Following the Conclusion of the Durban Climate Change
11 December 2011
The success or otherwise of the Durban climate change negotiations will not be clear until all major emitters have taken on binding commitments to reduce global emissions.
The discussions in Durban have outlined a way forward to do this, however, much detail remains to be resolved and the implementation of any agreement is many years away.
Anything less than an agreement including all major emitters taking action will not be environmentally effective and will heighten the risks associated with Australia’s approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The interim step of extending the Kyoto Protocol, which will not include all major emitters, means many of Australia’s major competitors will not have an equivalent carbon price to that which will be in place in Australia.
The Business Council of Australia has worked constructively with successive governments to ensure that whatever approach Australia takes to reducing emissions does not harm our competitiveness in the absence of global action.
The outcomes of the Durban negotiations underscore why the council called for safeguards in Australia’s emissions reduction legislation so we can adjust our approach to remain competitive if circumstances do not work out as planned.
The council’s analysis has demonstrated Australia’s legislation is based on optimistic assumptions by Treasury about economic growth, and about the action that other countries will take to reduce their emissions.
With a global agreement on emissions reduction still many years away, and with continuing uncertainty in the global economy arising from the European debt and banking crisis, it is essential Australia remains vigilant to address any risk to its economic competitiveness.
We repeat our call that if the assumptions in the Treasury modelling are proved to be optimistic, and the impact on Australia’s business competitiveness is worse than anticipated, then the government must be prepared to amend the legislation.