The Albanese Government has achieved an essential step in legislating Australia’s commitment to reducing our emissions by 43% by 2030 and net-zero by 2050 with the Climate Change Bill passing the House of Representatives with support from the Greens and the new ‘teal independents’. Climate change was a crucial issue in both the South Australian and the federal elections, with the Government given a clear mandate to take decisive action.
After decades of confused messaging and political posturing on the topic, this news provides the South Australian business community with the certainty they have been seeking. Whether the targets are ambitious enough or not will continue to be debated, but the clarity is a positive step that will help businesses make strategic decisions and investments in the wake of climbing energy prices.
In the Business SA William Buck Survey of Business Expectations June 2022 quarter results, cost pressures were the number one concern keeping business owners awake at night. Three-quarters of businesses identified electricity as the input cost that had increased the most during the June quarter, with 78 per cent forecasting further increase in the September quarter. No business is immune, as it made the top five concerns across manufacturing, construction, retail, hospitality, health and community, and professional, science and technical worker sectors.
South Australia has plentiful natural resources and is globally recognised for our forward-thinking in sustainability. In fact, we are one of the few places in the world able to meet its total energy demands using renewable energy, which has the potential to be a competitive advantage for our State.
The state and federal government commitments to Australia’s net-zero future are just the ‘nod’ that the business community needs to make investment decisions to drive resource efficiency. While we need our political leaders to set the legislative agenda, the business community will drive changes ‘on the ground’. Net-zero pledges by household names like Woolworths and Ford send powerful messages, and in the past 12 months, the number of ASX200 companies making net-zero commitments has passed 50, tripling in number from the previous year (Business Council of Australia 2021).
In South Australia, food and wine exporters will already be familiar with the demands placed on them to prove climate change commitment credentials to submit for tenders and listing opportunities with the large grocery chains in European markets.
If the end result of an investment in chasing a net-zero target is both business opportunity and reduced energy costs, it seems like a smart one. Knowing how to take the first step is often the biggest challenge for small businesses. If you are interested in taking that step, Business SA has an eight-week net-zero education and coaching program available through the generous funding of Green Industries SA. For more information, please visit www.business-sa.com/netzero