wage stagnation
Business Council chair Jennifer Westacott. (Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

The country’s top corporate lobbying group, the Business Council of Australia (BCA), has been busy in recent weeks trying to mend tensions between it and its members over its position on climate change.

Which is why Crikey was interested to see that it had updated its climate change policy on its website to emphasis its long history of supporting “strong action on climate change”.

In a recently revamped section on its website titled “Our record over time on climate change”, the lobby group sets out how it has supported strong action on climate change “for over a decade”. 

“We supported the Rudd government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS), called for an Emissions Intensity Scheme, supported a Clean Energy Target (CET) and most recently worked hard to bring industry and the community together to support the National Energy Guarantee.”

It says the BCA “support[s] the science of climate change” and supports transitioning to net zero emissions by 2050, as per the Paris Agreement. It says that if Australia can meet our emissions reductions targets without carryover credits “then we should”.

The section has been edited to remove a line about action on climate change “striking a balance between reducing emissions while protecting jobs and living standards, especially in regional Australia”. It now says the BCA supports the need for a market-based carbon price “to drive the transition and incentivise investment in low and no-emissions technology”.

It also includes a timeline of the BCA’s record supporting “action to cut emissions and make Australia the most carbon efficient economy in the world”.

Crikey has long been sceptical of the BCA’s record on climate change, so we read the timeline with interest. 

It says, in 2006, the BCA called on the Howard government to tackle the issue of climate change, with then-president Michael Chaney saying: “Only a clear and unambiguous link between carbon emissions and market value can provide both business and the community with a consistent and long–term motivation to reduce emissions.” 

But, at the time, the BCA also said it did not believe Australia should ratify the Kyoto Protocol, with Chaney saying without support from the US and China, it would be “merely a token gesture”.  

In 2008, according to the BCA’s timeline, it supported the Rudd government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS). But this submission from the time suggests that its support was more nuanced, with the BCA arguing the CPRS could “expose business operations to excessive imposts”. 

Absent in the timeline are events between the years 2013 and 2016, when, among other things, the BCA celebrated the repeal of the carbon tax, and called for the abolishment of the Renewable Energy Target.

A BCA spokesperson said the website was updated all the time and that it did not represent a shift in its policies.