At a glance
Patrick Viljoen, senior manager - ESG at CPA Australia, explains the Australian Government's environmental policy commitments and how they affect business in Australia.
The change in government
“Very slow movement from the previous government has left us with very little buffer room to transition Australia to a lower carbon state. The pace of change will need to increase exponentially for us to make the kind of headway that we want, particularly if we reflect on the transition from coal-powered energy generation, something that Australia’s traditionally relied on.
“From our perspective, we have been firm about our position on the need for the current government to act with purpose and speed.”
“The Powering Australia policy, which is being used at the moment, provides the baseline for Labor’s approach to Australia’s transition.
“This has been coupled with a dedicated view towards enacting the policy by empowering our regions.
“In effect, what they’re saying is we should no longer be looking at Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane for clean power production – this should come from the regions themselves.
“The policy also has budget attached to it because it acts as an anchor for the government’s aspirations, and this grounds it in economic reality – the dollars and cents we need to apply to drive Australia to become a cleaner state.”
New emissions limits
“The baseline reduction of 4.9 per cent [for Australia’s 215 biggest emitters] is a safeguard mechanism, and that was a replacement mechanism following the abolition of carbon taxation in Australia. This is also administered and regulated by the clean energy regulator.
“If we look at the top emitters, they are energy production companies, so that is really not all that surprising.
“Outside of those primary industries, larger corporates – particularly those in the manufacturing industry – are bigger contributors within the top 215 Australian emitters.”
What about "greenwashing"?
“This is where companies usually position themselves as doing something for the benefit of sustainability, but if you cut through that, it is basically fluff or they are doing the wrong thing, so they are trying to dress it up as something different. It is misrepresentation."