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Australian Companies Commit to Carbon Reduction Through We Mean Business

Image Credit: Australian Climate Leadership Summit

On November 5, 12 Australian companies committed to climate action at the Australian Climate Leadership Summit in Sydney, an official lead-up event to the COP21 UN climate conference. They join over 250 other companies from around the world who have made commitments through the We Mean Business coalition, including over 40 multinationals that are headquartered or active in Australia.

“We know that there is strong community support for action to reduce pollution and increase clean energy, so it’s fantastic to see leading Australian businesses making new commitments on climate change today,” Dermot O’Gorman, CEO of WWF-Australia, said. “This growing momentum opens the door for governments to play their part at the upcoming UN climate change meeting in Paris.”

The 12 companies, which mostly consist of banks and energy companies, are: AGL Energy, ANZ, Bank Australia, Brambles, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Infigen Energy, National Australia Bank, Novion Property Group, Origin Energy, Singtel Optus, Teachers Mutual Bank and Westpac.

“These climate commitments represent a significant shift in the policies and approaches of many of Australia’s leading companies on climate change. It is clear that the transition to a low carbon economy is underway, and that Australian business is beginning to seize the growth and employment opportunities that this transformation offers,” said James Day, Director for Australia and New Zealand, CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project).

There are seven key areas for We Mean Business climate leadership commitments:

  1. Adopt a science-based GHG emissions-reduction target;
  2. Procure 100 percent of electricity from renewable sources;
  3. Remove commodity-driven deforestation from all supply chains by 2020;
  4. Reduce short-lived climate pollutants;
  5. Put a price on carbon;
  6. Report climate change information in mainstream reports as a fiduciary duty; and
  7. Responsible corporate engagement in climate policy.

Only two of the new Australian companies to join the We Mean Business coalition made commitments under all seven: Bank Australia and Origin Energy. Infigen Energy and Westpac committed to five; AGL Energy and National Australia Bank committed to three; and ANZ and Singtel Optus committed to two. Four companies only committed to one of the areas: Brambles, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Novion Property Group, and Teachers Mutual Bank.

“Bank Australia is making all seven We Mean Business climate leadership commitments as part of our longstanding commitment to responsible banking including a healthier planet, and our determination to see Australia transition to a low carbon economy,” said Bank Australia Managing Director Damien Walsh. “We are already well on the way to meeting these commitments and see this as good opportunity to stretch ourselves further by looking deeper at how our business impacts the planet including on climate change, and responding accordingly.”

Reporting as a fiduciary duty and corporate engagement in climate policy received the most support, each with commitments from nine companies. Putting a price on carbon and adopting a GHG emissions reductions target saw support from six and five companies, respectively.

Multinationals active in Australia that previously made commitments through We Mean Business include Coca-Cola Co, Colgate-Pamolive, Honda, IKEA, Kellogg Company, L’Oréal, Mars, Nestlé, Nissan, PepsiCo, Shell, Siemens and Unilever.

Hannah Furlong is an Editorial Assistant for Sustainable Brands, based in Canada. She is researching the circular economy as a Master's student in Sustainability Management at the University of Waterloo and holds a Bachelor's in Environment and Business Co-op. Hannah… [Read more about Hannah Furlong]

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