Business executives plan to push
Pacific Rim leaders to create carbon emissions pricing
Sep 5, 2007 - Malcolm Foster - The
SYDNEY, Australia - Pacific Rim business
leaders say governments must make polluting more costly
to businesses and make investing in expensive energy-efficient
technologies more attractive if they want to reduce
The business leaders are planning to
suggest that the politicians gathered here for a summit
of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum should
attach a price to carbon emissions, said Mark Johnson,
chairman of AGL Energy Ltd., an energy retailer, and
head of a business advisory council to APEC leaders.
It would be up to individual countries to adopt their
"Business is going to have to change
its behavior in the way it uses energy and how it
invests in new technology," Johnson said Monday. "For
that to happen, we need price signals" that would
motivate companies to change their behavior.
"That is the essence of the climate
change debate: to pollute it will cost you X," he
APEC's 21 members are grappling with
how to address climate change. Australia moved the
issue to the top of the agenda after it barely got
a mention last year; finding common ground on the
thorny topic has proved difficult.
For businesses in Australia, finding
a predictable, practical solution is urgent. In the
absence of federal government regulation, Australian
states were coming up with their own sometimes conflicting
Businesses felt adrift, with "a lack
of knowledge about what might be a long-term national
policy" on climate change, said Maria Tarrant, director
of policy at the advisory council.
In April, the Business Council of Australia,
which represents Australia's 100 largest companies,
including mining giants BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio
Tinto Ltd., got involved, calling on the federal government
to adopt a centralized carbon emissions trading scheme.
That regional businesses are clamoring
for government help represents a sea-change in business
attitudes about global warming, environmental groups
and other observers said.
"It's enormously significant," said
Paul Toni, program leader, development and sustainabilty
at WWF-Australia. "You're not going to drive change
until you pay for the pollution."
Carbon credits have been traded in Europe
since 2005. Under the system, governments set a limit
for the amount of carbon dioxide that major polluters
such as coal-fired power plants and steel makers could
emit, while letting them buy and sell CO2 emission
This system encourages factories and
industries to cut emissions because they can make
money by selling surplus permits if they release less
greenhouse gas. Companies that make no effort to reduce
emissions pay the price because they have to buy extra
allowances or face fines.
___ AP Writers Meraiah Foley and Rod
McGuirk in Sydney and Aoife White in Brussels contributed
to this report.