THE Australian business sector is largely unprepared for the introduction of the Federal Government’s emissions trading scheme according to the findings of a new survey of top level executives conducted by the Australian Institute of Management.
Only 36 per cent of those surveyed were aware the Australian Government’s emissions trading scheme — the centrepiece of the nation’s greenhouse reduction efforts — is to commence in 2010.
Eighty per cent of those surveyed said they “know very little” or were only “somewhat aware” of the scheme. Significantly, 76 per cent of respondents said their organisations had not commenced planning for the scheme’s introduction.
The survey, ‘The introduction of Australia’s Emissions Trading Scheme — level of understanding amongst CEOs and senior executives’ was conducted by the Australian Institute of Management (Victoria/Tasmania) in June this year.
A total of 288 executives participated in the survey and they came from across the spectrum of employment sectors.
Of those involved in the survey, 60 per cent were CEOs or business owners and 40 per cent were senior managers. Interestingly, the low awareness levels of the emissions trading scheme were broadly similar across all organisations, regardless of size.
Australia’s emissions reduction target, in accordance with the Kyoto Protocol is 108 per cent of 1990 emission levels by 2012.
The Australian Government has a long term goal to reduce emissions by 60 per cent of year 2000 levels by 2050.
“The survey shows an alarmingly low level of preparedness for the emission scheme’s introduction with obvious implications for ETS readiness in 2010,” Susan Heron, CEO of the Australian Institute of Management (Victoria/Tasmania), said.
“What is encouraging is that 62 per cent of survey respondents said they believe the introduction of the emissions trading scheme is justified.
“Australian organisations need to recognise the Government’s ETS decision means the scheme will be a business reality in 2010 and they need to ensure they are best positioned to take advantage of its introduction,” she explained.
Although the scheme will first target only those organisations considered to be large consumers of energy and those emitting high levels of greenhouse gases, the impact of the scheme will flow to all organisations.
“This month, the Government is expected to release its design framework for the scheme. The framework will need to clearly spell out what is required of industry and be followed by open and effective dialogue between Government and business.
“The emissions trading scheme will put more pressure on the training, development and skill sets of Australian management than we have seen for many years.”
Heron added that organisations needed to ensure there was an executive within their ranks who had been given accountability for emissions compliance.
“I think we will see a new executive role emerge in Australian organisations based on sustainable management and I believe the capabilities of such a person will be crucial in shaping their company’s reputation and financial performance.”