Broad alliance looks for consensus on climate change

Business Groups, environmentalists, unions and social welfare groups have formed an unprecedented alliance to seek consensus on climate change policy, ahead of the Paris Climate Conference.

Called the Australian Climate Roundtable, the group covers a broad spectrum of Australian political opinion. It includes the Australian Aluminium Council, the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Australian Council of Social Service, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Australian Industry Group, the Business Council of Australia, The Climate Institute, the Energy Supply Association of Australia, the Investor Group on Climate Change and WWF Australia.

“Australia’s major political parties support the global community’s goal of limiting climate change to less than 2°C above preindustrial levels.  Australia should play its fair part in these efforts while maintaining and increasing its prosperity,” a statement from the group read.

It added that achieving this would require deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and that most countries including Australia will eventually have to reduce net emissions to zero or below.

The group noted that Australia’s climate policy development has been ‘tumultuous’ and, without setting out preferred policies, said common ground must be found to meet our commitments civilly and constructively.

The formation of the group comes as the Government prepares to finalise its position for the Paris climate talks. This is expected to happen in the next few weeks.

According to the AFR, Australia may attempt to change both the base year from which emmission cuts are calculated and also push the traget date back later.

In addition, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whose own commitment to climate policy has often been brought into question, and Environment Minister Greg Hunt will have to deal the climate change sceptics in their party before then.

Nevertheless, Hunt said he welcomed the announcement of the new alliance. He said while the Government "may not endorse all elements of the paper we deeply appreciate the work to advance debate beyond the unfair and unsuccessful carbon tax".

Labor's environment spokesman Mark Butler said "the signal the move sends for consensus building in this area is an important one".

Australian Climate Roundtable’s joint principles for climate policy may be found here.