Post-2020 Target Needs to Strike the Right Balance

“Australia has an important role to play in reducing global carbon emissions, but future emissions reduction targets must be set in a way that is both environmentally and economically responsible,” Business Council of Australia (BCA) Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott said.

In releasing the BCA’s response to the issues paper Setting Australia's post-2020 target for greenhouse gas emissions, Ms Westacott said Australia will need to strike a balance in setting a target that it is neither disproportionately too high, nor too low.

“It is critical in setting a post-2020 target that there is an understanding of the level of structural adjustment that will be required, and its impact on competitiveness and economy growth.

“The community must also have confidence that the costs and implications of change are manageable, and understand how Australia will make the transition, if we are to have a durable emissions reduction policy.

“In setting a post-2020 target the government should also weigh-up Australia’s appropriate share of emissions reduction. The competitiveness of Australian industries must be assured, particularly if competitor nations do not take equivalent actions.

“It should also take into account what other countries are actually doing in this space and technical feasibility, as well as environmental credibility and economic cost to Australia of taking bold steps to cut emissions.

“Australia’s policy response to the risks associated with climate change should be workable and achieved at lowest possible cost. This should include the use of credible international emissions reduction permits.

“Our response also needs to set the foundations for a long-term policy framework that is responsive to international negotiations.

“Emissions reduction policies to achieve a post-2020 target will need to provide a predictable and stable investment environment and acknowledge the long-term nature of  investments. These policies should be developed following consultation with both those who are affected, and those who will provide the solution,” Ms Westacott said.

The BCA has also today released its submission in response to the Emissions Reduction Fund Safeguard Mechanism consultation paper.

This submission addresses elements of the government’s planned approach to the safeguard mechanism that require further consideration.

This includes ensuring those covered by the safeguard mechanism are not penalised for greenhouse gas emissions growth in other sectors of the economy, providing greater flexibility in the review and resetting of baselines, and expanding the legislated exceptional circumstances.

The submission makes the case for inclusion or access to credible and verifiable international abatement as a design feature to help business manage the costs associated with the policy.

It also calls on the government to continue consultation on the proposed sectoral approach to electricity generation and on the drafting of the rules to implement the safeguard mechanism.