Industry groups say the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement makes it even more important that Australian governments stop political point-scoring and focus on a clear long-term climate policy.
President Donald Trump said the world’s largest economy was quitting the “unfair” Paris agreement because it cost the US money and jobs.
But Australian business groups say there is more to be lost without the sort of certainty agreements such as Paris give industry.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Friday called for a firm commitment from the federal government to clean, affordable and reliable energy that would provide confidence about future prices and policy.
“This means a bipartisan approach and an end to point-scoring on both sides of the climate debate,” ACCI chief executive James Pearson said.
“When each alternative government threatens to undo the policies of its predecessor, investment decisions are delayed or deferred, which hurts productivity and jobs.”
Mr Pearson said the Paris agreement represented the greatest certainty with regard to global action.
“Australia’s ratification of the Paris agreement was a signal to other nations that we are willing to work cooperatively to address this global issue,” he said.
“It would be a breath of fresh air to see our domestic politics take a similar cooperative approach.”
At least three Coalition MPs have called for a rethink of Australia’s involvement in the climate pact following the US decision because of its potential impact on business.
Nonetheless, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the government will not be following the US.
“We are committed to the Paris agreement,” Mr Turnbull told reporters on Friday in Singapore, where he is attending security talks.
The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors, which counts Australian Super among its 31 member funds, welcomed the Australian government’s adherence to the Paris agreement and said it remained key to reducing investment risk due to climate change.
Meanwhile, the Australian Industry Group said Australia’s international trade competitiveness would suffer without clear policy to encourage investment.
Business as usual in Canberra also threatens energy security and affordability, AI Group chief executive Innes Willox said.
“Major investments in Australian industry and energy hinge on how Australia and the world choose to respond to climate change,” Mr Willox said
“Without a clear case for long-term investment we will wind up with an energy system that is simultaneously insecure, unaffordable and high-emitting.”