April 6, 2006 – Business says it wants ‘long, loud and legal’ framework

One of the key ways the Howard government and its allies were able to keep climate change off the agenda between 1996 and 2006 was to say that business was united in opposition to more-than-voluntary commitments.  This was never true, and by 2006, some businesses were both willing and able to stick their heads above the parapet.

The Australian Business Roundtable on Climate Change, a gathering of various businesses including Westpac, Origin, BP said the Howard government should get real. It was front page news on the Melbourne Age, a sign that climate change was climbing the political agena…

Colebatch, T. and Myer, R. (2006) Companies urge action on warming The Age. 7 April p.1.Climate change threatens us all: executives

SIX of Australia’s biggest companies have broken ranks to call on the Federal Government to take tough action to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, including some form of charge on carbon emissions and a binding target.

The companies – Westpac, BP, power company Origin Energy, paper giant Visy and insurers Swiss Re and IAG – say it is now clear that greenhouse gas emissions are causing hotter and more unstable weather, and could lead to serious costs for agriculture, tourism, and Australian business generally.

CSIRO research commissioned for the study warns that even a rise of two degrees in global temperatures could bleach the Great Barrier Reef, dry up most of Kakadu’s wetlands, cut the livestock capacity of inland Australia by 40 per cent, and deplete Australia’s snowfields.

IAG chief executive Michael Hawker, speaking yesterday at the release of the group’s report, blamed climate change for a massive rise in weather-related calamities, including cyclones, floods, high winds and hailstorms.

Days later, an anonymous and lying-down-with-denialists writer at Crikey was underwhelmed.

….

Finally – but by no means least – it also ignores the hypocrisy that these companies are all investing or benefiting from investing in the economic growth engines of
China and India where the real challenges lie in allowing growth while controlling emissions, and where most of the world’s future greenhouse gas emissions will come from.

This is not corporate leadership on climate change. It is unctuous spin. Or what’s sometimes called hot air.

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