Businesses seek guidance on reaching net zero emissions

Carbon offset balance regulation for CO2 emission control outline diagram. Zero neutral greenhouse gases impact strategy to reduce fossil fuel burning and use recyclable resources vector illustration.

Business owners and leaders are on the Government to provide more clarity and guidance as to they can go about reducing their carbon emissions in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Research reveals that 70 per cent of Australia’s carbon emissions are generated by industry and business, so there is clearly an urgent need for swift, effective action.

“Through interviews with sustainability and climate change managers in many large Australian companies, we keep hearing that they are establishing their own emissions policies,” climate change theme leader at RMIT’s Business and  Human Rights Centre, Dr Leanne Morrison, said.

“It is clear that there’s a real lack of guidance at the national level and much of the public discourse purporting that businesses don’t want more regulation or restrictions is incorrect. Actually, our research in recent years suggests that there’s a big call from the business sector for greater regulation and guidance because anything they do on their own is riskier.

“Australian businesses are not sure how policy will change in the future so it can feel like they are on shifting sands,” Dr Morrison added. “Strong policies at the national level would actually be really helpful and help their bottom line, too.”

A way forward

Dr Morrison is the lead author of an RMIT report that reveals a potential pathway for Government support and regulation that would incentivise businesses to work towards net-zero carbon emissions by 2035.

“We are calling on the Australian Government to embrace these recommendations as a concrete pathway towards a national net zero emissions target,” Dr Morrison said.

The report’s recommendations are as follows:

1. Working towards a national target of net zero by 2035

2. Reintroducing a carbon price mechanism

The report says that a carbon price would be the most effective way to meet a national target of net zero by 2035, allowing Australian exports to avoid attracting international carbon duties that would significantly impact their competitiveness in global markets.

3. Mandated corporate carbon reporting mechanisms, including:

  • Reporting on absolute emissions with calculations based on the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol.
  • Mandatory reporting of Scope 3 emissions ( emissions that are not emitted by a company directly, but associated with activities such as purchased materials, and with products once they have been sold).
  • Audit and assurance of emissions reporting that is externally audited by independent parties to ensure completeness and confidence.

4. Reform of carbon credit systems to include robust oversight by independent body and recognition of Indigenous land-management practices as a carbon credit method.