Commenting on Telstra’s commitment to review its key industry memberships in relation to climate change, Dan Gocher, Director of Climate and Environment at the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) said:
“We welcome Telstra’s decision to commit to a review of the climate advocacy of the Business Council of Australia (BCA). Telstra now joins BHP, National Australia Bank, Rio Tinto and Westpac in putting in place a process to review their trade associations’ influence on climate policy. This is a move that will protect the interests of Telstra and its investors.
“Telstra’s commitment follows private engagement by ACCR over the last six months, during which Telstra was presented with evidence of the BCA’s climate policy obstruction. BCA members across the ASX100 have been on the receiving end of sustained pressure by ACCR and other civil society organisations including the Australian Conservation Foundation, Greenpeace and The Australia Institute.
“Companies with sensible climate positions are finding it harder and harder to defend the advocacy of the BCA on climate change. The last month has brought these disagreements to the fore, with the BCA calling for the use of Kyoto carryover credits, a move panned by investors and climate experts because it would have the effect of weakening Australia’s emissions reduction target.
“The BCA has played a destructive role in climate politics in Australia for more than 20 years, including campaigning heavily against the price on carbon in 2013-14. It has also called for prolonging the life of Australia’s coal-fired power stations and scrapping renewable energy targets. Its claims that addressing climate change will cost investment and jobs and “wreck the economy” have been widely discredited.
“The BCA makes a lot of noise about the cost of taking action on climate change, but ignores the costs of doing nothing, when in reality the former is dwarfed by the latter.
“Civil society groups and investors alike have grown tired of the negative role that our largest lobby groups - including the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA), the BCA and the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) - have had on climate policy. These groups carry much of the blame for Australia’s position as a global laggard on climate, and their destructive influence will no longer be tolerated.
“ACCR will continue to engage with ASX companies about their industry associations. Companies would do well to be proactive on this issue, as Telstra has done.”