March 5, 2021

Business, unions unveil green nation-building plan

It would build on the government’s clean technology roadmap, launched last week, but would be much more organised and larger scale than that proposal. Importantly, it would bring state, federal and private investment together to enable more ambitious projects to get off the ground.

The ultimate goal would be to guide the economy to net zero emissions by 2050, a target adopted by every state and territory, but not by the federal government.

Prominent figures involved in its development include Australian Prudential Regulation Authority board member Geoff Summerhayes, Treasury deputy secretary Meghan Quinn, and former Treasury secretary Ken Henry.

Ai Group’s Innes Willox” “The escalating costs of climate change have become increasingly obvious.” Alex Ellinghausen

Senior bureaucrats from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources were also present at a meeting to discuss the plan earlier this month.

Senior state bureaucrats from Victoria, NSW, South Australia and Western Australia were also involved.

While these participants did not officially endorse the plan, multiple sources present at the meeting on September 8 said there was strong support for the proposals.

Mr Thodey, who is also deputy chairman of the government’s COVID-19 commission, said: “The Climate and Recovery Initiative has put important proposals on the table and the support for them has been encouraging. The proposals would streamline efforts on climate risk and resilience across the federation with a focus on boosting jobs and investment.”

The BCA’s Mr Reed said: “Our recovery must include addressing the risk and impact of climate change, that means big opportunities for investment in clean energy and decarbonising technology.”

AI Group chief executive Innes Willox said: “Australia’s growth trend was weak even before the massive slug of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the escalating costs of climate change have become increasingly obvious. Steps to protect our economy and society by managing and reducing climate risks will support stronger growth for decades to come. Many steps will also have an immediate benefit in restoring growth and employment.”

Two proposals came out of the meeting on September 8. The first was to make climate risk and resilience a formal concern of the national cabinet, under the auspices of federal and state treasurers.

The second was to create a national funding mechanism for a wide range of green projects in parts of Australia particularly hard hit by the pandemic-induced economic crisis.

They called this initiative the “Australian Clean Technology Market-Creation Co- Investment Partnership”, describing it as “a model for providing financing to scale up supply chain responses in clean technology markets across Australia in order to enable decarbonisation across all sectors of the economy”.

The initiative runs parallel to the government’s official COVID-19 advisory committee, led by former Fortescue Metals CEO Neville Power. Both Mr Power and the federal government have said little about a potential green recovery, putting the emphasis instead on a gas-led recovery.

The group of participants will meet again in November and will continue meeting into 2021.

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