Government tells business to ‘have more humility’ on industry emissions targets
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Government tells business to ‘have more humility’ on industry emissions targets

A lack of stable energy and emissions policy for more than a decade has forced businesses to consider an industry-led emissions reduction target but the government has cautioned industry about getting too ahead of itself.

At the AFR National Energy Summit on Wednesday, it was revealed the Business Council of Australia is investigating an industry-led, self-regulated emissions reduction initiative involving more than 20 companies as a response to the collapse of the National Energy Guarantee policy.

"I don’t think consensus is a guarantee of correctness:" Resources Minister Matt Canavan.

"I don’t think consensus is a guarantee of correctness:" Resources Minister Matt Canavan.Credit:Peter Braig

However, the Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan said industry should be wary, despite industry consensus.

“I don’t think consensus is a guarantee of correctness, we had consensus on the Renewable Energy Target and it proved to be one of the worst energy policies adopted in Australia and in the world,” Mr Canavan said during the AFR National Energy Summit on Thursday.

“Lots of smart people can all agree and get things wrong.

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“I always think in most of these types of debates, it’s always nice to have a bit more humility."

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The National Energy Guarantee was designed to address the energy "trilemma" by increasing power affordability, improving grid stability and cutting carbon emissions from the industry which is the largest source of greenhouse gasses.

On Wednesday, Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor told Fairfax Media the government would not consider increasing its 2005-level emissions reduction target for the energy sector higher than 26 per cent by 2030, even though it will hit this target ahead of that date.

This is despite the energy industry stating it wants to do more.

The BCA was approached for comment.

It is understood the BCA is still consulting with its members and has not, as yet, developed an emissions policy.

Mr Canavan said Australian industry needs to leave emissions decisions of this scale to the government.

“Don’t put yourself in a situation where just because you’re a big business in Australia you think you’re going to get everything right. Because we can all get it wrong," Mr Canavan said.

“We have a way of resolving fraught political dispute in Australia, it’s called democracy, and I don’t think the corporate sector is a replacement for democracy. I don’t think some kind of corpocracy or technocracy is a replacement for democracy.”

“The right policy is committing to our agreed Paris targets, and going beyond those targets unilaterally is absurd and self-defeating for our own national interests.”

Energy giant Shell Australia’s chief executive Zoe Yujnovich said where industry-led responses create greater market certainty then markets should led the way.

“I take heed with Matt’s comments about some level of humbleness,” she said.

“No doubt it’s important for each country to come up with right way for which the [energy] transition... I personally do believe that anything that creates a market mechanism that is more collaborative will help to accelerate and decreases the pain of transition.”