The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is finally driving major governmental policies.
At home, all state and territory governments have a net zero target and a growing number of local councils are stepping up with climate and sustainability plans.
Victoria is leading the nation with an ambitious gas substitution roadmap it’s just embarked on, similar to that of the ACT, but much bigger because of the scale of its challenge: two million householders are hooked on gas alongside a big chunk of industry.
But as we start to engage seriously with the carbon battle there’s another front looming, the urgent need to deal with nature and the loss of biodiversity.
Get used to hearing about the IPBES – the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.
It’s a mouthful, but it needs to be.
According to climate advisory leader Martijn Wilder of Pollination, this is “very big issue for the financial sector”. We are basically seeing the equivalent impact of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) with the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD).
The trend is gaining momentum Wilder said and it will require business and investors to “disclose what impact their business has on nature, so taking that into account. There is a huge effort going on around that.”
Miners and big agricultural players clearly have a lot of work in store for them.
But it’s not just direct impact, there’s the supply chain and downstream impact to consider.
Is your business having an impact on water sources or quality of water? Or using pesticides that we know have a negative impact on nature?
We’re increasingly recognising that those questions need to be answered, Wilder says.
How do we measure impact? World Wildlife Fund and Accounting For Nature are good places to start Wilder says.
These outfits have tools to measure how much has been lost, but the Queensland government, he points out has a land restoration fund for projects that protect nature and give you credits for that.
Check out the Natural Capital Fund.
It’s not a fortune – $35 million to create “a pathway for ongoing private investment in environment markets” the website says, as part of a $60m investment in nature including $25 million for eligible carbon farming projects and projects that generate “commercial and environmental market returns and creating additional environmental, social, economic and First Nations co-benefits”.
Nothing to be sniffed at of course but on a global scale less than a drop in the swelling ocean.
Wilder points out the UN’s Paris-style draft bio diversity convention recently estimated the globe would need to invest $700 billion a year to 2030 to redress damage to nature.
The flip side, the convention notes, is eliminating an estimated $500 billion of “annual government subsidies that harm nature”.
For business too, there’s huge awareness globally.
He points to growing shareholder support for climate action with the world’s first big corporate, Unilever, taking its climate action plan to shareholders, with almost unanimous approval.
“In the past six months every major investment bank on the planet has put out a report on the impact on nature,” Wilder says.
“In Australia, it’s just starting.”
Another advisory getting set for the uplift in business around nature is Point Advisory has teamed with Biodiverse Carbon, a subsidiary of Greening Australia, to form NatureCo to deliver “nature-based solutions for businesses and investors”.
The company will offer credits for projects that remove “CO2 from the atmosphere and deliver tangible co-benefits to local communities and economies.”
By nature-based solutions it means reforestation, avoided deforestation, river and wetland restoration and blue carbon mainly in Asian, African and Latin America.
Federally the government is still missing in action, evidenced again, by its rejection this week of Zali Steggall’s climate bills.
You can thank the tenacious Coronavirus-like legacy left by former PM Tony Abbott that was bitter, divisive and worst of all time wasting.
Because of course we now have a carbon tax, willingly or not – the European Union’s carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) which will threaten our highly sensitive global trade prospects. With China only getting angrier with Australia and looking for alternative sources to the imports that has given us a defying economy (so far), that’s bad news for business but good for the planet. So too that Canada, Japan and the US are looking to go in the same direction.
This is what the Liberal Party aligned Blueprint Institute published this morning (Friday), “For years policymakers have claimed climate action would hurt our carbon-intensive industries –coal, metals, and agriculture. They argued that a domestic price on carbon would cause our trade-exposed, emissions-intensive industries to lose their international edge.
“But widespread CBAMs are about to flip that argument on its head.” At a cost of $90 a tonne they say.
The answer? To let our green steel, aluminium and industries thrive.
But at HQ in Canberra, computer says No.
Here in the real world, we say yes.