More than 100 Australian businesses have combined to issue a joint call for stronger government investment in renewable energy uptake and support to establish an export industry for zero emissions energy.
The group has been drawn together from across the technology, finance, property, and construction industries and is calling for governments to ramp up spending on clean energy and to establish dedicated industrial precincts to help industries switch to zero emissions sources of power.
The joint statement has been facilitated by WWF Australia, as part of its ongoing ‘Renewables Nation Campaign’, and says Australia should be looking to position itself as a leading global supplier of clean energy.
“Australia has all of the resources to become a leading exporter of renewables by 2030. With more support from our governments, we could produce enough clean, affordable energy to power our nation, plus have plenty left over to sell to our neighbours,” WWF Australia’s energy transition manager, Nicky Ison, said.
“For Australian businesses, this would mean creating hundreds of thousands and jobs and providing a significant boost to our economy. But we must act fast. If we don’t, we risk squandering a once-in-a-generation opportunity.”
The companies have called on the federal government to commit at least 1 per cent of GDP on supporting a clean energy recovery in the forthcoming federal budget and to develop a clean energy export plan that would see Australia produce an equivalent of 700 per cent of its own energy consumption from renewable sources.
The statement, published in newspapers, also calls on governments to ensure that a wide range of the Australian community is able to benefit from surging investment in renewables, including First Nations people, regional communities, and low-income households.
CEO of Unilever Australia and New Zealand, Nicky Sparshott, said that tackling climate change was one of the biggest threats the world was currently facing.
“Climate change is not only an environmental crisis but one which will impact the lives and livelihoods of millions of people,” Sparshott said.
“Urgent action is needed now. We need to transition away from high carbon pathways and ensure public spending aligns with the most ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement – limiting global warming to a maximum of 1.5ºC and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest.”
Atlassian, which was co-founded by Mike Cannon-Brookes, who has emerged as one of Australia’s largest backers of ambitious renewable energy projects, said that tackling climate change was key to both avoiding an existential threat as well as an opportunity to create new jobs.
“Climate change poses an existential threat — not just to our environment, but to our health, our communities, and our economic well-being. If we get renewable energy right, not only will we create a more resilient planet, we have the opportunity to create the jobs of the future,” Atlassian’s head of strategy and sustainability, Jessica Hyman, said.
The joint statement issued by the group of companies will be published in newspapers this week.
Property company Mirvac said that increasing the company’s use of renewable energy sources across its portfolio had been a key way the company had reduced both its emissions footprint.
“Transitioning to renewable energy is a key part of our plan to be net positive carbon by 2030,” Mirvac group general manager for sustainability, Sarah Clarke, said. “Our entire retail portfolio is supplied by renewable electricity, as is 90 per cent of our office portfolio, and this has reduced our overall carbon footprint by 80 per cent as of January this year. We are proud to support Australia’s transition to a renewable future.”
WWF Australia said that it was hoping to see the federal government build upon previously announced measures, including the funding committed to supporting renewable energy manufacturing under the Modern Manufacturing Strategy.
“We have seen encouraging movement from state and federal governments to help Australia seize the opportunity of becoming a renewable export superpower, but there is so much more to do. It is excellent to see so many Australian businesses recognise the opportunity and join us in calling for more action,” Ison said.