Australian business wants the federal government to set higher climate goals in its economic recovery, according to a recent survey by the Carbon Market Institute (CMI).

Australia’s Covid-19 economic recovery plans are not sufficient to integrate climate action and the nation should have a 2050 net zero emissions target, said Australian business respondents to the 2020 Australian Climate Policy Survey which is released on 30 November.

More than three-quarters of the survey respondents think the Scott Morrison administration is not sufficiently integrating climate goals in its economic response to the pandemic.

78% of respondents believe Australia’s current 2030 target of 26% to 28% reductions is an inadequate contribution towards the Paris Agreement goal and should be increased.

“With abundant clean energy resources and likewise abundant opportunities for biological, industrial and geological carbon sequestration, Australian business leaders are aware of significant opportunities in a transition to net zero emissions as well as the spiraling costs of climate inaction,” said CMI chief executive John Connor.

“While recent additional support for technology development is welcome, Australian business leaders are seeking targets, stronger policies and transition planning to manage risks and maximise opportunities.”

The survey found support is increasing among the business and investment community for a net zero emissions by 2050 target, with 88% of respondents saying Australia should set a target - up from 83% last year.

“This survey shows that even during a pandemic and a recession, corporate and investor concerns over climate action are undimmed, as realisation of the many opportunities for Australia in a low carbon economy brighten,” added Connor.

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The survey further reflected growing corporate concern of climate change: 87% reported recognition at board and executive level of the material financial and strategic risks posed by climate change (2019: 77%) while 57% stated their organisation had faced increased shareholder action/resolutions regarding climate change (2019: 42%).

“With 70% of our trading partners setting net zero emissions or carbon neutrality goals, and many of them openly discussing carbon border adjustments to penalise laggards, it’s no surprise to also see carbon tariff concerns jump nine points to 79%,” he said.

“Business concerns continue to rise, too, about Australia using its Kyoto carryover credits to achieve its 2030 reduction target, with 79% of respondents disagreeing with that plan, up from 76% last year.”

The survey also found that 88% of respondents expect Australia by 2030 to have at least an implicit carbon price of over A$20 (US$14.77); 55% expect that price to be over A$30 (US$22.16); while 75% of those would use internal carbon pricing currently apply more than A$20.

Some of the respondents to the survey are from Australia’s biggest emitting companies; the others are investors, carbon project developers and carbon market experts.

“Driven by regulators, investors, consumers, concern about carbon border tariffs and their own strategic interests, business leaders are taking action but they clearly want the national government to assist with targets and policies, not just technology development support,” said Connor.

The CMI annually takes the pulse of Australian business and industry on climate and energy policy, corporate climate action, and economic implications of international developments.

This survey, which was conducted from October to November, had 234 respondents - 39% of which report emissions under Australia's National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Scheme.

The CMI is the independent industry association for business leading the transition to net-zero emissions.

The (virtual) 7th Australasian Emissions Reduction Summit is scheduled to be held from 2 to 4 December.