Australian Super funds back government’s A$23 carbon levy

Australian Council of Superannuation Investors welcomes “investment certainty”.

The Australian government has announced that it will start to price carbon at A$23 a tonne from 2012 before moving to a market-based emissions trading scheme in 2015. The tax is part of a huge clean energy plan announced over the weekend. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, said the levy would kick off from July 1 next year and that by 2020 the carbon price would take 160 million tonnes of pollution out of the atmosphere every year. She said some of the money paid by polluters would fund billions of dollars of investments in clean technologies like solar, wind and geothermal: “All up, the carbon price will support $100bn worth of investment in renewables in the next forty years,” she said. The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI), which represents 41 superannuation funds with a combined A$300bn (€226.3bn) of assets, welcomed the announcement. ACSI CEO Ann Byrne,said: “Investors now have certainty on the requirements imposed upon Australian companies to limit their carbon emissions. This certainty will assist superannuation funds to manage the savings of working Australians into the future.” She said investors had been “in limbo” for too long. ACSI said it hoped the policy clarity would serve to lift the debate about climate action to an informed level: “This policy gives a clear indication to companies that the traditional business environment is changing and they need to evolve with it or risk being left behind. By focusing on the impacts of carbon reduction policy, we will be asking our investee companies to comprehend and engage in the investment opportunities, costs and compensation that it offers.” Extractives industry group the Minerals Council of Australia said the plan was a “very poor investment in our environmental and economic future”.