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Australian business urged to lead on climate and sustainability

MEDIA RELEASE: Over 75 Australian business leaders were gathered in Sydney at a National Roundtable on Monday 29 October, where they have been encouraged to be ambitious and accelerate scalable action on the agenda around energy & climate, cities and mobility and sustainable finance, despite policy uncertainty and inaction.

The Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia (formerly Sustainable Business Australia) convened the Roundtable of more than 75 business leaders in Sydney yesterday and who were warned the Australian economy was under enormous risk unless action is taken.

Peter Bakker, President and CEO of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), told the Roundtable participants that Australian companies must mentally disconnect from whatever politics is taking place, and simply move forward.

“You have to re-connect with the global conversation, particularly as supply chains are global and customers expect business to step up on climate action,” Mr Bakker encouraged those attending the Roundtable.

“There are massive opportunities out there, but I currently don’t see Australian business participating,” he said.

Dr John Hewson AM, Chair-elect of the Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia, reminded the participants that business in Australia has a unique opportunity to get out in front and capitalise on these opportunities or risk competitiveness on the global stage.

“The incessant attempt to play short-term politics is an issue, but the challenges are very real,” Dr Hewson said. “For example, we need an overarching economy-wide emissions policy, which can be led by business.

“I am surprised there still isn’t a global trading system in carbon, because putting a price on carbon is fundamental,” Dr Hewson said.

The roundtable was briefed that the level of scrutiny on directors around issues such as climate risk is growing day-by-day, and that these conversations had to be integrated into mainstream finance.

“Sustainability will drive the future cost of capital,” Peter Bakker told the Roundtable. “We will need massive system transformation, and cities will be the main battleground for sustainability.”

Other issues discussed at the high-level roundtable included the need to build capability in sustainable finance; concerns about the transition of jobs associated with the advent of autonomous vehicles; and the need for further discussion around the circular economy.

Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia Chief Executive, Andrew Petersen, said the roundtable was a new collaboration and participatory platform in which industry stakeholders could share their views and leading business practices as well as hear about global solutions that are creating opportunities to disrupt markets and business models.

“Systemic change was signified as the major requirement if we are to transition to a zero carbon economy, with members already  reappraising risk and implementing strategies to meet those science-based targets,” Mr Petersen said.

“We shared a lot today about the availability of capital ready to invest in the green economy, with companies keen to move to the future regardless of the current political climate,” he added. For further information, contact:

Andrew Petersen CEO Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia Ph: 0412 545 994

About the Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia (BCSD Australia)

Previously known as Sustainable Business Australia, the Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia (BCSD Australia) is the national peak body representing forward-thinking companies and organisations that are working towards the transition to a sustainable Australia. Our mission is to accelerate this transition by making sustainable business more successful. We are the Australian partner of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and, our members come from all sectors and industries, representing more than 150,000 employees across Australia.


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