The Business Council of Australia said today that its Members had been unable to reach a common position on the Kyoto Protocol, citing a lack of definitive information about the protocol’s impacts and opportunities for business, as well as divergent views among its membership.
“Given the divergent conclusions in the existing protocol research, as well as strongly-held differences of opinion between members on the business impacts of the protocol, the BCA is not in a position at this time to either support or reject ratification of the protocol,” BCA Chief Executive Ms Katie Lahey said.
Ms Lahey said, however, that BCA Members would continue to actively support and work toward achieving Australia’s 108 per cent Kyoto target in ways that benefited Australia’s competitive position.
“It is clear that BCA Members are united in their view that climate change remains a key issue for Australia’s corporate sector,” she said.
“They are also united in the view that Australia should meet its greenhouse target of limiting total emissions in 2012 to 108 per cent of Australia’s 1990 emissions, as stipulated in the protocol.”
“As a result, the BCA will develop a coherent and active policy agenda to ensure the benefits of Australia reducing emissions are maximised and impacts minimised so that Australian business can compete successfully with countries that have not ratified the protocol.”
Ms Lahey said Members within the same sectors had very different positions on ratification.
“It is clear from the responses from members that this is not a sectoral ‘winners’ versus ‘losers’ debate,” she said.
“It is also not just a matter of differing economic modeling, but divergent baseline assumptions and values used to construct the modeling.”
Ms Lahey said issues such as these underlined the current difficulty in achieving consensus.
She said that one of the key issues for members was that the United States and developing nations had not signed the protocol, raising concerns Australian business would be at a competitive disadvantage if they, and not competitors in these countries, were bound by the protocol.
“The BCA is not shying away from the issue – greenhouse is and will remain a major challenge for business and we are committed to working through the opposing views and models to achieve more clarity.’
“But to claim that there exists – on the basis of available evidence and research – a clear-cut case for pro or anti-ratification for business is making a number of assumptions which the BCA cannot at this stage accept.”
Ms Lahey said BCA’s Greenhouse Taskforce would continue to examine issues and options associated with greenhouse and climate change and work with the federal government to ensure Australia meets its 108 per cent target and develop longer-term greenhouse gas reduction targets.