Twelve Australian companies – including energy suppliers, banks and a major telecommunications business – have committed to climate change action at a summit ahead of the UN’s climate change conference in Paris at the end of November.
The Australian Climate Leadership Summit is backed by the French government and focuses on seven key climate commitments by action group We Mean Business, including carbon emission reduction targets, carbon pricing, renewable sources and climate policy.
The conference is an initiative of global organisation, the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).
The commitments vary from company to company. Measures range from reporting climate change information in mainstream reports as a fiduciary duty to putting a price on carbon and procuring all electricity from renewable sources.
“The announcements being made at the summit really signal that the momentum of business action on climate change is accelerating and we’ve probably reached the tipping point,” the director of CDP in Australia and New Zealand, James Day, said.
“Companies are stating they need ambitious policy both on the national and international level.”
According to CDP, over 250 companies in 36 countries have made at least one climate commitment through We Mean Business.
These companies represent $US5.6 trillion in total revenue and $US19.5 trillion in assets under management.
“Governments are signalling that the post climate talks will bring us a strong outcome and will bring us close, if not bring us to the point where we can limit warming to below two degrees,” Mr Day said.
Late last month, Origin Energy said it had become the world’s first energy company to adopt all seven of We Mean Business’s initiatives.
A spokeswoman for the company acknowledged that energy companies have a role to play in limiting global warming and referred to comments made at Origin’s annual general meeting.
Origin chairman Gordon Cairns said at the time: “Energy production is responsible for two thirds of global carbon emissions, which means energy companies must play a central role in delivering the solutions that will help to reduce emissions globally.”
The company said it had been preparing for a carbon constrained world and would continue to play an active role in developing low carbon and renewable energy solutions to meet growing demand.
According to the CDP’s global climate change report for 2015, almost all countries are now engaged in emissions reductions activities, with an 89 per cent increase in activities that aim to reduce carbon emissions over five years.
A report released by the CSIRO on Wednesday found more than three quarters of Australians agree climate change is happening, with divisions emerging along political lines.
The conference is being held at Sydney’s Doltone House on Thursday.
Speakers will include NSW Minister for the Environment Mark Speakman and French Ambassador Christophe Lecourtier.