Climate policy won this year’s election; where does Australia go from here?

Partners in Performance

CANBERRA, 1 AUGUST: With Labor’s win, and the election of more Green and Independent MPs, results show Australia’s deadlock on climate policy is over. Insights from the ABC’s Vote Compass showed that climate change was at the forefront of voters’ priorities, even before voting began, and the clear decision should inform Australia’s vision moving forward.

Since the election, there have been promising efforts to act on climate change, including a drastic overhaul of the government’s carbon credits scheme, which was called out as ‘largely a sham‘ earlier this year.

It was a long time coming after the former Government’s $4.5 billion carbon credits fund was found to be contributing ‘fake carbon reductions’. The former head of the scheme, Professor Andrew Macintosh, claimed not only did most of the approved credits not represent real or new cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, but that the scheme actually hurts the environment by allowing corporations to purchase carbon credits instead of cutting emissions.

But despite this overhaul, there is much work yet to be done; made terrifyingly clear with the State of Environment report which was released shortly after the election. Australia’s rapidly declining biodiversity calls for a rapid transition away from fossil fuels, according to global management consultancy Partners in Performance.

Renewable energy experts at the firm claim that Australia’s business community is looking for a clear path toward renewable energy and, if the government wants to continue gaining support of industry representatives, it must act now to implement a clear and feasible path toward a future of renewable energy alternatives.

“There is a real fear that, without a clear path to decarbonisation, there will be a policy and investment void, causing delay and economic damage,” says Julian McCarthy, the firm’s Director of Energy Transition in Australia and New Zealand.

But while the government has promised to make a shift towards a clean electricity grid, it continues to insist there will not be an accelerated closure of Australia’s ageing coal plants that currently provide the bulk of the nation’s power.

“Current Australian government policies are prioritising near-term gains over long-term stability,” adds McCarthy. “While cashing in now on commodities like coal will provide quick wins, Australia is not fully capitalising on the long-term potential of the renewable energy market, and risks selling out its 2050 net zero targets.”

“The Australian industry has been clear that they are ready to transition to renewable energy and are looking to the government for a clear roadmap for that process.”

Partners in Performance argues there are clear economic benefits to a plan that works toward a renewable energy future. The firm points to Australia’s untapped potential in green metals such as copper, lithium, cobalt and nickel, which are essential to the world’s energy transition future. In addition, Australia’s immense renewable energy resources offer a potential hedge against fossil fuel price rises and predicted future volatility, which can reduce risk associated with Australian projects and bring jobs.

“Investment in new coal and gas mines may offer quick wins, but in the long-term this will only delay the inevitable closure of these industries and increase the pain when it does happen,” adds McCarthy. “Moving fossil fuel providers to green energy production will ensure jobs long-term.”

Private investors, especially super funds, have already recognised that fossil fuels are no longer a viable investment in Australia. Businesses across many industries have recognised that sustainability is lucrative and are adapting their business models to reflect this new reality.

“This is a dynamic space,” adds McCarthy. “Our clients are excited about the opportunities ahead in renewable resources. They see the potential for Australia to be a world leader in lowering emissions per tonne of output. They are also aware that their stakeholders – particularly their employees – are conscious of being part of the solution.”

“But, while the private sector has a central role in driving transformation across all sectors, government action and support will be critical in setting and reforming policies that enable sustained momentum in the coming decades.

“The win-win opportunities for government, industry and the nation are substantial and unprecedented. For example, converting the nation’s electric supply to renewable resources, combined with electrification of transportation, industrial processes and households, promises the profound advantage of national energy self-sufficiency for the foreseeable future.

“Adopting climate action and the requisite need for public/private collaboration as a political theme should be considered not just a vote winner but also a win for industry, the economy and the nation in the longer term.”

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About Partners in Performance Partners in Performance is an agile, fast growing international management consultancy; a leading global player in driving operational excellence for complex organisations. By working as a true partner with clients, Partners in Performance enables lasting change in organisations, delivering both commercial impact and inspiring people to transform their behaviours.

/Public Release.