Limiting climate change to well below 2 degree C temperature rise and ideally 1.5 degrees C as targeted in the Paris Agreement is much more than just possible, it is vital for future Australian and global economic, social, and environmental prosperity. Achieving that goal requires multiple significant transitions across our economy and society. We know with such large-scale transition there will be challenges and risks, but if designed well, the transition can provide important benefits and opportunities. It will not succeed if people experiencing disadvantage, workers and communities are left behind or fear they will be. The journey to net zero emissions by 2050 will require combining the perspectives, expertise and experience found across many different sectors and constituencies.
That is why the Australian Climate Roundtable’s members have been working together for more than a year to build our shared understanding of a successful economy-wide transition to net zero emissions by 2050. As a collaboration among leading organisations representing business and industry, farming, investment, union, social welfare and environmental sectors, the ACR has held joint workshops that brought our members together with invited experts from many parts of Australia and around the world to describe what successful transition to net zero could look like for different sectors of the economy and segments of the community.
These followed a similar workshop series in 2019-20 examining the wide-ranging costs and impacts of climate change itself, on the basis of which we concluded:
“The scale of costs and breadth of the impact of climate change for people in Australia is deeply concerning and will escalate over time. It is in Australia’s national interest that we do all we can to contribute to successful global action to minimise further temperature rises and take action to manage the changes we can’t avoid”.
We learned a lot in this current series of workshops. The results include the following recommendations
for policy makers:
Recommendations for Ambition
The ACR acknowledges the Australian Government’s firm commitment to net zero emissions by 2050 as
a first step. This will help guide public policy and private activity, and is consistent with our previous
Raising Australia’s medium-term emissions mitigation goals, and updating them regularly, is also
• provide a clear and credible basis for action and investment;
• maintain our competitiveness amidst a growing global transition; and
• meet our Paris Agreement commitment to ensure our successive Nationally Determined
Contributions reflect our highest possible ambition, and represent our fair share in limiting costly and dangerous climate change.
Recommendations for Action
The ACR welcomes the increased resources and activity Australian governments are devoting to addressing climate change. Further enhanced and expanded policy approaches are needed to drive a successful economy-wide transition to net zero emissions, and ensure people experiencing disadvantage, workers and communities are not left behind and ideally benefit.
The ACR’s principles for climate policy should guide policy design.
Innovation remains critical to identify low, zero and negative emissions options, improve their capability and reduce their costs. Support for basic and applied research, demonstration and commercialisation is important. Deep reductions in cost will be driven by the large-scale deployment in Australia and around the world. Policies to support deployment of the most promising technologies are needed that:
• collectively address all economic sectors and regions;
• are large enough to drive meaningful change consistent with medium and long term goals;
• provide a sound basis for private investment;
• support the growth of demand for low, zero and negative emissions products; and
• support broad access and opportunity
Policy should prevent the unnecessary loss of competitiveness by Australia’s trade exposed industries and net increases in global emissions that might otherwise occur due to the uneven international application of climate policies. But deferring change will not resolve these fears and may worsen trade risks, given the impacts of other nations’ climate transition choices on Australia’s export industries.
Successful transition for workers, communities and people experiencing disadvantage will require more than new technology and market uptake. Earning community confidence requires proactive and wellcoordinated policies and investment to manage change and seize opportunities. Actions that can reduce emissions and improve social, health, employment outcomes for people and communities most affected and those experiencing disadvantage, should be identified and prioritised. Public authorities with a broad mandate and funds to manage transition impacts and facilitate diversification should be established in advance of expected major regional transitions.
Recommendations for Process
The further development of Australia’s climate strategies, and the policies under them, should be
iterative, integrated and inclusive:
• Iterative, with regular updates to ensure they remain relevant given the rapid pace of
technological, market, social and global developments;
• Integrated, taking coherent account of the needs and interconnections of the diverse economic
sectors, policy portfolios, geographic regions, social demographics and arms of policy involved.
Approaches that are narrow or siloed will not succeed.
• Inclusive, developed in full dialogue with all parts of the community and ensuring local context
analysis to understand existing capabilities and competitive advantages in specific regions.
Closed processes focussed on Parliamentarians will be much less robust and effective than open
processes that draw on the breadth of experience, expertise and perspective stakeholders have
Working together has helped our diverse organisations and our respective members better understand the critical importance and breadth of the transitions that we are embarking on. We are confident that Australians can make this journey together and build our shared prosperity. We will continue to collaborate to this end as Australia moves to implement, and further strengthen, the commitments taken to Glasgow this year.