How efficiently Australia prepares for climate change could have the potential to either catapult or arrest the economy, the super fund giant has said.
In a new report commissioned by Aware Super, social researcher Rebecca Huntley has explored Australia’s recovery after the COVID-19 crisis in the years ahead.
Australia’s loss of wealth from climate change and severe weather has been projected to exceed $19 billion by 2030, Dr Huntley noted, referring to research by the Climate Council.
Climate change is also expected to cost 310,000 jobs annually by 2050 and to reduce economic growth by 3.6 per cent per year – a $3.4 trillion economic loss.
But the white paper has also reflected on what would happen under a government that chooses to boost its climate targets and policies, in line with net-zero emissions by 2050.
Australia reportedly could create $63 billion in fresh investment opportunities and could reduce the average annual electricity bill for households by at least $550.
Many businesses have signalled desire for clearer policy and direction from the government on climate, the report noted, with 76 per cent of company directors wanting large-scale public investment in renewable energy.
“Much of the Australian business community has been clear in its calls for a bipartisan, all-of-government approach to climate change and energy transition which creates consistent national policy settings and provides certainty to investors, companies and the broader community,” the white paper read.
Aware Super chief executive Deanne Stewart commented that as the country’s second-largest super fund, her organisation has the “power to significantly impact the future” for its 1.1 million members and for the wider community through its investment decisions.
“Through investments in infrastructure, a transition to alternative energy sources and affordable housing, all critical themes identified in our report, we can help jumpstart our economy post-pandemic,” Ms Stewart said.
“Capitalising on climate action is the logical next phase for Australia’s growth. It’s not about activism; it simply makes smart business sense.”
Further, the public has also indicated expectations for climate action. The Aware Super report has referred to the Australia Institute’s annual Climate of the Nation report, which showed that 74 per cent of Australians are concerned about climate change.
The majority (71 per cent) support the government’s commitment to the Paris climate agreement targets, and 69 per cent support a commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050.
In a survey of its members, Aware Super found that 57 per cent believed it was “extremely appropriate” for the fund to actively influence climate policy and action.
“We are hearing positive talk about climate solutions from our government, but this is yet to translate to action. It is costing taxpayers dearly, and the longer we stand still, the more it will cost us in the future,” Dr Huntley said.
“Many Australians already have solar panels on their roofs – they see the benefit to their own hip pockets and the environment. Many private businesses have called for a price on carbon or are investing in renewable innovation or re-skilling workers to enter greener industries.
“There is strength in numbers, and what we need now is for government to come to the party.”
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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].
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