Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Firms 'Less Prepared' For Low-Carbon World

Just days before Labor's pollution price takes effect, a new survey suggests Australian firms are feeling less prepared now for a low-carbon future than they were 12 months ago.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report, released on Tuesday, also finds only a third of respondents believe the opportunities created by imposing a carbon tax will outweigh the risks in the long term.
That's down from about 50 per cent in the inaugural survey in 2011.

The report says executives may have been overconfident before the details of Labor's scheme were announced in mid-2011.

Global uncertainty may also be behind the shift in sentiment, coupled with the fact that "corporate nervousness on the eve of the introduction of the carbon pricing scheme is bound to be at its peak".
But the Gillard government can take heart from other key findings.

About 85 per cent of directly affected businesses and two-thirds of all companies are already acting to reduce pollution.

"These findings indicate Australia's carbon pricing legislation has spurred firms to take action to reduce their carbon emissions," the report, commissioned by GE, states.

"This will ultimately reduce the country's overall carbon footprint."

GE ecomagination director Ben Waters is encouraged by the fact carbon pricing is already driving energy efficiency.

"We've been in the realm of opinion and policy advice but now we've got a law that's about to start," he told AAP.

"It's about getting into action, which is what business does best."

Almost three-quarters of the 136 senior executives surveyed by the EIU believe carbon pricing is here to stay - although almost half think a better regime will eventually replace Labor's current proposal.

That's partly because two-thirds believe the $23-a-tonne starting price is too high.

"It is likely that Australia, which is just about to take its first steps towards carbon pricing, will have to go through several years of discussion and trading before reaching equilibrium," the report states.

The Gillard government's carbon tax will transform into an emissions trading scheme in mid-2015.

The EIU analysis also suggests the corporate carbon agenda has shifted towards "cost reduction" in 2012.

Of the 300 biggest emitters that will pay the tax from July 1, more than half have set up dedicated roles or teams to identify greater carbon or energy efficiency measures internally.

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