Australian Ethical has signed on to back the local network of a UN sustainability initiative, in urging the federal government to enact tougher action on carbon emissions in its COVID-19 recovery plans.
The petition has called for policies that will build resilience against future shocks by supporting efforts to hold global temperature rise to within 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, in line with reaching net-zero emissions before 2050.
Australian Ethical is one of five Australian companies who have signed the statement, alongside Yarra Valley Water, Energetics, Edge Environment and Community Services.net.
Signatory companies backing the move are reported to have a combined market value above $3.7 trillion, employing more than 5 million people. Other players include Refinitiv and Zurich Insurance Group as well as corporate giants such as Adobe, Nestle, Vodafone and Unilever.
The companies are part of the Science Based Targets initiatives, a program run by UN sustainability initiative, Global Compact Network Australia (GCNA) and WWF-Australia.
Kylie Porter, executive director of GCNA, said it was important to maintain a focus on climate action even with the crisis.
According to Ms Porter, the government should consider establishing a Climate Change Authority to guide the nation to net-zero emissions, while taking into account the livelihoods of regional communities and economies that will be affected by the energy transition.
“There is a risk that the momentum that has been building around the climate change agenda will be lost as a result of the pandemic and we will remain off-track to meet the targets set for 2030 and beyond,” Ms Porter said.
“We will need to harness the technologies that exist today to reach net zero. This might mean rethinking the subsidies offered to certain sectors of the economy, putting additional funding into renewable energy technology or reshaping our grid.”
She added the transition would be accelerated if the government established a national climate and energy policy framework, introduced stronger market indicators and supported renewable energy targets.
“This is an opportunity for our policymakers to shape a new Australia – one that ensures an equitable and sustainable future for all of us,” Ms Porter said.
WWF-Australia chief executive Dermot O’Gorman added: “The urgent need to act on climate change and rapidly transition to a zero-carbon economy requires strong leadership from governments to set the right policy incentives that enable business and communities to innovate and drive the enormous opportunities for new jobs.”
Sarah Simpkins is a journalist at Momentum Media, reporting primarily on banking, financial services and wealth.
Prior to joining the team in 2018, Sarah worked in trade media and produced stories for a current affairs program on community radio.
You can contact her on [email protected].