(Reuters) – A group of major investors on Friday urged Australia’s new Prime Minister Julia Gillard to take swift action to fight climate change and cut carbon emissions blamed for heating up the planet.
Green Business | COP15
Gillard should outline her road map on climate change as soon as possible and set priorities for consensus building over the issue, said the Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC) that represents institutional investors with more than $500 billion under management.
“We consider that climate change presents real risks to the Australian economy, which must be addressed,” the group said in a statement.
Gillard moved to revive a stalled carbon trading scheme on Thursday, within hours of becoming prime minister after incumbent Kevin Rudd stepped down. Opinion polls had shown a slump in support for Rudd and he was also unpopular within his own party.
Gillard pledged more consultation with industry and voters to win support for a price on carbon pollution, an issue that has split the nation.
Rudd had championed the carbon trading scheme but it was rejected by a hostile Senate for a third time in March.
His decision in April to shelve the scheme till 2013 angered voters who wanted action on climate change and was a major reason for the plunge in his popularity in opinion polls.
IGCC said its members would continue to support strong climate change policy action but neither the government or the main opposition party had an adequate policy to address risks to the Australian economy from global climate change.
Australia is the world’s top coal exporter and among the highest per-capita emitters of planet-warming carbon dioxide, with coal used to generate about 80 percent of electricity.
While the government has embraced renewable energy and energy efficiency, analysts say putting a price on carbon emissions is the most effective way for Australia to cut greenhouse gas pollution.
“We see indications of significant policy progress in China, Europe and in many U.S. states and do not accept that stalled international progress is sufficient reason for further policy delay in Australia,” said IGCC chief executive Nathan Fabian in the statement.
U.N. climate talks on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, whose first phase ends in 2012, have bogged down and agreement on a broader pact covering all of the world’s major greenhouse gas emitters is now thought to be more likely by the end of 2011.
(Reporting by Bruce Hextall; Editing by David Fogarty)