We Are Alone! Climate Change Laws Span The World

aloneThere was a great article in Forbes magazine recently called “We Are Not Alone. Climate Change Laws Span The World”. But unfortunately the ‘we’ refers to the US not Australia. In Australia we are alone. And it will put us in a competitive disadvantage. Here’s why.

Let’s start with the article. The main gist is that American’s aren’t alone in the creation of national or state level climate change legislation. The article focuses on the results of a global study put together by the Globe, the Global Legislators’ Organisation, and the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics. The study found “almost 500 climate change laws having been passed in the countries covered by the study” and that  “Eight countries passed climate laws in 2013, from Bolivia to Poland to the United Arab Emirates, with another 19 making positive advances.”

The article goes on to talk about the momentum of climate change legislation.

“According to Lord Deben, the former UK minister for environment and now head of the UK government’s Committee on Climate Change and president of Globe: ‘More countries than ever before are passing credible and significant national climate change laws. It is by implementing national legislation and regulations that the political conditions for a global agreement in 2015 will be created.’”

And that the emerging markets are taking the lead, not developed countries.

“Emerging markets will be the motor of economic growth in the decades to come, so climate-related laws will shape the future business environment for the world’s biggest companies. We’re already seeing this in markets such as China, which has introduced seven pilot carbon markets with a view to introducing a nationwide carbon market by 2015.”

I wonder what impact a China carbon market will have on where they import their goods and services from! Makes our ‘stuff’ look very expensive considering our carbon intensity.

And here is the clincher.

“The fact that so many countries are taking action also removes one of the key barriers to agreement in the past, which was the view that tackling climate change would put companies and national economies at a competitive disadvantage.”

“Increasingly, the reverse is being seen to be true – that laws to tackle climate change are leading to greater resource and energy efficiency, cleaner, lower-carbon growth and improved energy security.”

What happened in Australia in 2013? We changed government and we now seem hell bent on revoking climate change laws because they believe that it will put our companies at a competitive disadvantage.

This morning Joe Hockey was still blaming the Qantas situation on the ‘penalty of carbon pricing’ that the company had incurred, stating that pricing carbon had affected their international competitiveness. Qantas voluntarily signed up for being included in carbon pricing, as did Virgin Australia. Qantas denied that climate pricing was a significant influence on their current performance.

Our current government has been banging the same drum for the last 5 years but the world was very different 5 years ago. Five years ago there was some ‘justification’ for not doing anything as a lot of the rest of the world wasn’t doing anything. But now “almost 500 climate change laws having been passed”. We are in a very different world.

The world has turned. It is now our legislative inaction on climate change that will be our competitive disadvantage.

We are alone! Climate change laws span the world except for Australia.

One Comment on “We Are Alone! Climate Change Laws Span The World

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