Ai Group calls for net zero emissions policies by 2050

Peak employer body the Australian Industry Group has released a series of policy papers that include a call for Australia to move decisively towards net zero emissions by 2050.

AiGroup aligns itself with the states, all of which have zero emissions targets, and against he federal government which is resisting the transition towards renewable energy. Canberra refuses to name any targets.

The recommendation is significant as Ai Group CEO Innes Willox was a member of the Liveris taskforce on manufacturing which is widely reported to have been heavily focused on promoting the greater use of gas as a ‘transition fuel’.

This is a position that may lead to greater gas production that has been rejected by climate experts.

The Ai Group talks in its policy of moving to zero emissions as ‘safely managing the change we cannot avoid’, while at the same time ‘increasing our competitiveness and shared prosperity in the process’.

It said that Australia has opportunities to emerge strongly from the pandemic through reform and investment across energy and the clean economy, or faced the risk of a reversion to uncompetitively high energy costs if we do not manage the transition well.

“For gas, Australia’s strategy should include facilitation of new supply options that make long-term sense; expansion of alternative fuels including biogas and hydrogen; a heavy focus on demand reduction through gas efficiency and electrification; and continued policy reform to promote a competitive and secure local market.”

Ai Group said there was a need to de-link power prices from volatile fuel export prices.

This is a reference to the linkage between export prices for LNG and domestic prices, a linkage which has seen domestic prices triple in cost on the eastern seaboard.

“Building a broader clean economy demands that we develop clear and practical transition pathways across all sectors; ramp up platforms for supporting clean economy innovation and cost reduction; build a policy suite to drive mass take-up when improved technologies and practices are ready; and manage risks to our existing exports through economic hedges, a more diverse economy and fair transition and opportunity for communities, workers and supply chains.”

Ai Group said its clean energy ambitions were a tall order, but they come as part of a range of new policies released which map out a clearer policy direction as Australia navigates the Covid-19 global economy.

Ai Group today released eight policy papers covering a broad sweep from taxation, trade and migration to industry development, defence industry and the circular economy.

Other policy areas covered are education and training, workplace health and safety, and climate and energy.

A paper on the critical area of workplace relations will follow later.

Picture: Innes Willox

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