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Climate change project looks to leverage Australians' collective economic power

12 August 2020 at 5:30 pm
Luke Michael
Activists want companies to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030    

Luke Michael | 12 August 2020 at 5:30 pm


Climate change project looks to leverage Australians' collective economic power
12 August 2020 at 5:30 pm

Activists want companies to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030    

A new online platform is putting the onus on businesses to tackle the climate emergency, and putting independent carbon information into the hands of consumers and investors so they can see which companies are underperforming on climate action.

The zero-carbon 2030 project focuses on what companies are actually doing to achieve net zero emissions, rather than simply on what they are disclosing about their carbon footprint.

Carbon ratings are available on the project’s website to track how a company is performing against the competition.

Ratings range from AAA – for companies taking action, with plans in place to transition to carbon neutrality by 2030 – down to E – for businesses with no movement on disclosure, reporting or action. 

The big four banks, Macquarie, the major supermarkets, and brands including Coke, Pepsi and McDonald’s have already been rated.

Zero-carbon 2030 founder and CEO Duncan Ritchie told Pro Bono News that while disclosure was great, it didn’t actually move the needle on climate change.      

“For example, a bank might say ‘we’re carbon neutral’ and ‘we’re doing all the right things’ but in accordance with our assessment, they might not actually be carbon neutral because they’re not looking fully at their scope three emissions that include their lending activities,” Ritchie said.

“We can then mobilise the community to campaign against companies that are scoring low and not actually demonstrating enough on climate.

“And if they don’t then alter their course, then we encourage people to move their money, consumption and investment decisions to support the good guys not the bad guys.”

The project’s vision is to push businesses to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2030 and limit the average global temperature rise to a safe 1.5°C.

While the carbon ratings are one pillar of the project, another is leveraging Australians’ collective economic power to achieve change.

Ritchie said if a small percentage of Australians steered clear of underperforming companies, it could make a massive difference to the business’s bottom line. 

He said a 14 per cent loss of sales could lead to a 50 per cent fall in net profits for some companies.

“What we’re really focusing on is trying to activate that narrow group of highly motivated consumers and investors that want to see action on climate change,” he said.

 “So we’re trying to reach those people so they can put the onus back on businesses.”

Ritchie added that businesses taking action then needed to use their power to put pressure on governments and influence policy.

He said not enough companies were doing this and he called on them to step up and stop contributing to political parties that are not invested in strong climate action.

“Many businesses say they are waiting for policy changes and our objective is really to say to business leaders that they need to take charge of this,” he said.

“It’s about using your influence to shape the future for you, your consumers and your investors.”

Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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