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Super fund chiefs unite on carbon

| Sourced From Theage |

THE heads of Australia’s largest superannuation funds have formed a group to lobby politicians for a carbon price, in the latest push by business for certainty on climate policy.

The new panel includes the chief executives of Colonial First State, AMP Capital Investors and HESTA. Overall, the nine companies involved control $350 billion.

As well as direct lobbying, the panel of chief executives will also advise the newly formed Investor Group on Climate Change, which is in turn advising the federal government on carbon pricing.
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The group’s chief executive, Nathan Fabian, said yesterday the nine super firms might differ on the best method to implement a carbon price, but all agreed price certainty was necessary.

Mark Lazberger, chief executive of Colonial, said in a statement ”the current uncertainty surrounding carbon pricing hinders investment decision-making across both emissions-intensive and low-emissions assets”.

”To allow sensible long-term investment decisions, the framework for pricing emissions must be resolved,” he said.

The formation of the super-fund panel is the latest move in a push by powerful sections of the business community to put carbon pricing back on the political agenda.

Last month BHP chief executive Marius Kloppers called for Australia to embrace a carbon price to ensure it did not slip behind international competitors. He said Australia would increasingly have to look beyond coal for its energy sources. His speech was followed by comments from the heads of some of Australia’s biggest companies, including gas giants AGL and Origin.

The Age understands a number of major company directors have begun talks with their counterparts on ways to push for certainty on carbon pricing. This is partly an effort to force the Coalition to stop opposing a carbon price and so ensure any price negotiated in this Parliament is not dropped if the opposition wins power.

Some parts of the business community also want the Coalition to re-engage in the debate to marginalise the Greens’ role in drawing up a carbon price.

Mr Fabian said the super-fund group would lobby all politicians and was not focused on any one party. He said what business feared most was for a scheme to be set up only for it to be dissolved later.

Meanwhile, ANU academic Frank Jotzo, who worked on the Garnaut review, released an analysis yesterday showing that Australia should lift its 2020 emissions reduction target to 15 per cent of 2000 levels to do its fair share.

Dr Jotzo said the Copenhagen emissions cuts proposed by major countries implied significant action on the world stage and Australia should match this. Australia currently proposes a 5 per cent cut by 2020.

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