Business Council of Australia's Grant King and Jennifer Westacott with Prime Minister Scott Morrison

The Business Council of Australia (BCA) has launched a plan to fast track emissions reductions by 2030, which it says will deliver Australia an additional $890 billion and 195,000 jobs over the next 50 years.

Stating that if we are to reach net zero by 2050 Australia will need more ambitious results by the end of the decade, the BCA advocated for reducing emissions by 46 to 50 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. Current government targets are for a reduction of 26 to 28 per cent.

“Setting a more ambitious interim target now will drive new investment and bring forward action in sectors such as electricity where we can deploy commercially viable technology at scale,” BCA chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.

BCA’s plan involves Australia formally committing to net zero by 2050, further developing local carbon offset markets, and reducing the eligibility threshold for the Safeguard Mechanism from 100,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, down to 25,000. 

The Safeguard Mechanism monitors Australia’s biggest emitters in respect to their baseline, or “business-as-usual” level of emissions which they are discouraged from exceeding. Companies can purchase Australian carbon credit units to offset their emissions and stay below the baseline.

Despite BCA president Tim Reed urging a stop to the “endless debate about issues the nation and the world has moved past”, on Monday federal energy minister Angus Taylor used his opening address at the AFR’s climate summit to oppose the reforms. 

Mr Taylor said reducing the Safeguard Mechanism would see costs being passed on to the consumer and constitute a “sneaky” carbon tax for businesses. 

“There’s lots who want to use the stick – you’ve got to ask why they are motivated by that. We are much more interested in using carrots,” he told the forum. 

Ironically, one of the cornerstones of the BCA plan is enhanced policy coordination in order to stir vital private investment, rather than deter it.

“Australia’s transition cannot happen without significant private sector investment, so capital markets and governments need to work together to send the right signals to stimulate the required investment,” the report stated. 

“Without this level of coordination, we run the risk of distorting investment signals, deterring capital from coming to Australia and suffering a disorderly adjustment for industry, workers and communities.”

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