12 October 2010 – More than three quarters of respondents in a business survey said Australia lacks the skills base to enable an expected surge in demand for green initiatives, according to a survey conducted by The Sustain Group.

The lack of clarity on climate change policy has also left businesses anxious over its future effects.

The survey, which took place in two tranches and  canvassed more than 1000 employees from small, medium and large businesses across different industries as well as the public sector, reflects a lack of confidence  regarding the impacts that climate change policy will have on how business will operate in the future.

“Overall the responses are a reflection of an information vacuum that continues to exist across business and industry when it comes to the impacts of climate change policy, the potential impacts of regulatory environments and potential policy in the lead up to the implementation of an emissions trading scheme,”  the report says.

Among the standout results, 76.8 per cent of respondents do not believe that Australia has the skills base to accommodate a rise in demand for green jobs or a growing green and renewable energy and technology sector.

Sixty three per cent of respondents were unsure of the impact of an emissions trading scheme on their specific industry sector and 56.5 per cent did not believe that the government should introduce a tax on carbon ahead of a proposed emissions trading scheme.

Chief executive officer of The Sustain Group Mathew Tukaki says that the results reflects a lack of clarity within the business sector as to what future impacts climate change policy will have on business.

“The last survey we conducted was just prior to the Federal election and even at that stage we continued to see confusion about the central tenets of policy construction and implementation. Business was saying then that they were confused about impacts, now they remain just as confused,  and added to this nervousness is what a possible price on carbon could do,”Mr Tukaki said.

There wasa growing acceptance that there will be a form of emissions trading scheme, but respondents felt  unease about what the implementation framework may look like.

But while the results reflected the uncertain attitude of the business sector toward Government climate change policy, the survey also showed that 63.8 per cent of businesses were taking direct action when it came to reducing carbon footprints, while 42 per cent of respondents did not believe the Government should wait for a global agreement on climate change. Only 17.4 per cent said  they were unsure in response to this question.

Mr Tukaki said:“Business are already responding to the communities and consumer concern when it comes to sustainability and the environment. A large number of respondents were implementing programs or had already implemented programs – the challenge is now getting some consistency when it comes to benchmarking.”

Respondents were found to be just as unclear about Liberal policy on climate change, with 64 percent saying that they remain confused about what the Opposition mean by direct action.

Full results and The Sustain Group website