SOME of Australia’s biggest companies, including Westpac, BHP Billiton and Wesfarmers, have jointly called for a more serious approach to reducing carbon emissions.
THE eight companies have issued a joint statement saying they want to help tackle global warming and hope a deal will be struck at the United Nations climate change talks in Paris to limit global warming to less than two degrees above pre-industrial levels.
They say while achieving such a goal will be challenging for Australia and other countries, it is a critical step and one that should not be delayed. “The longer we wait, the harder it will be and the more it will cost us,” they said in the statement. The statement comes in the same week that the Liberal Party installed Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister in place of Tony Abbott, a known climate change sceptic. Mr Turnbull, a former environment minister, had lost the leadership of the party to Mr Abbott in 2009 over his support for emissions trading. He has however, indicated that he will stick by the climate change action policies of his predecessor. The coalition government had set up an emissions reduction fund under its Direct Action plan, and has been criticised for its relatively modest 2030 emissions targets. “Australia is a significant exporter of energy and also has plentiful clean energy resources. We are also vulnerable to climate impacts and we have a strategic interest in managing climate change,” the companies said in the statement. The other companies are GE, Unilever, oil and gas producer Santos, energy provider AGL and real estate firm Mirvac. The eight companies, which operate across the globe, estimated their share of greenhouse gas emissions at 12 per cent of Australia’s total. They called for separating economic and emissions growth. Mr Abbott announced last month that Australia would pledge at the Paris talks to cut its emissions by between 26 and 28 per cent from 2005 levels, by 2030. The announcement has been widely criticised by environment groups.