Matt Coughlan and Rebecca Gredley
(Australian Associated Press)
Investors want the federal government’s technology target to be part of a plan for net zero emissions by 2050 before they sign their cheque books, experts say.
The Investor Group on Climate Change – which manages more than $2 trillion worth of assets – says its members are “crying out” for investments in zero carbon opportunities and climate resilience measures in Australia.
The group’s comments are in response to the government’s plan to focus on a technology investment strategy rather than a policy for net zero emissions by 2050.
IGCC chief Emma Herd says a policy pathway for net zero emissions is economic risk management.
“Technology development and deployment is critical,” she said.
“But to attract investment the credibility test is whether technology planning is embedded in a long-term strategy consistent with a smooth transition to net-zero emissions by 2050.
“The lack of large-scale deals and policy instability remain critical barriers to opening up multi-billion-dollar investment in new industries, jobs and technologies across our country.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is lukewarm on the benchmark, despite increasing calls for countries to commit to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 ahead of a United Nations climate conference in November.
He’s also facing agitation from moderate Liberal MPs and business groups.
“Currently, no-one can tell me that going down that path won’t cost jobs, won’t put up your electricity prices and won’t impact negatively on jobs in the economies of rural and regional Australia,” he said in Melbourne.
The Australian newspaper reports that Australia will take a technology investment target to the Glasgow summit to avoid signing up to net zero emissions by 2050.
Mr Morrison said that was “very speculative” but confirmed climate policy would be shaped around technology.
“You want to get global emissions down? That’s what you need. You need the technology that can be accessed and put in place, not just here in Australia, but all around the world,” he said.
“Meetings won’t achieve that, technology does.”
The coalition is expected to release a new technology road map charting the way forward in hydrogen, solar, batteries, transmission, large-scale energy storage and carbon capture.
The prime minister has also signalled he won’t bow to international pressure for Australia to set more ambitious climate change targets.
He pointed to New Zealand, which has signed up to the 2050 target, exempting agriculture despite the sector being the country’s biggest contributor to emissions.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has accused the government of not having an energy plan, saying the technology target was “more marketing and spin”.
Labor is also debating its approach to climate change and resources, with some MPs warning the party against hostility towards coal.
WA frontbencher Matt Keogh said Labor supported both the resources industry and reducing emissions, insisting the two weren’t mutually exclusive.