Climate change debate: Government looks as if it is getting its message across, confusion still the order of the day: 58% get the certainty – 68% don’t get the Coalitions policy…


In what could turn out to be a trend, but also with some mixed results, the latest Sustain Group survey into “Climate Change and the Business Response” has shown that 58% of respondents now say that a price on carbon at least provides certainty with additional anecdotal evidence suggesting that business can at least now plan for the implementation of regulation. The third in the series that now stretches back more than 12 months (the last surveys were conducted in June / July and September / October 2010), Analysts surveyed 347 business executives from across 11 industry sectors. On the day that the Government has released the exposure draft, the survey results provide an insight into the response of business:

Matthew Tukaki, the CEO of The Sustain Group will be outlining the results to an audience of business executives in Sydney tomorrow afternoon at the same time as he is chairing a panel on “Business Leadership and Sustainability”. Joining Matthew on the panel will be the Founder of Planet Ark, John Dee, the former Minister for Transport and Small Business, David Campbell and the Director of Sustainability for the Intercontinental Hotel Group (details below). The key outputs of the survey are:

  • 58% of respondents believe the Governments announcement of a price on carbon at least provides some policy certainty
  • However, 61% of respondents now believe there is greater uncertainty of what the price on carbon will mean for their organisation either directly or indirectly
  • 62% of respondents do not believe that Australia has the skills base to accommodate a rise in demand for green jobs or a growing green and renewable energy / technology sector. This is down from 76.8% in the previous survey
  • 42.5% of respondents do not believe that the Government should introduce a tax on carbon ahead of a proposed emissions trading scheme. This is down from 56.5% in the previous survey.
  • 36% believe the Government should have waited for a global agreement, down from 40.6% in the previous survey while 52% now believe the Government should not have waited.
  • 66% or responding organisations are already taking direct action when it comes to reducing carbon footprints – this is up slightly from the September / October survey which found 63.8% of organisations surveyed were taking direct action while in June and July of 2010 the number was 59%.
  • In a “balancing” question of what respondents thought of Opposition policy:  68% of respondents remain confused about what the Opposition mean by direct action. This is up from the previous survey of 64% and still down from the 76% in the June and July 2010 survey

Mr Tukaki has also said the other figure to watch was the 61% who remain uncertain as to the impacts of the price on carbon: “What we are now seeing is a trend develop where more people believe that certainty  as a result of a price on carbon is at least a good outcome from the announcement – the comments provided in addition to the data collected indicate business and industry are beginning to develop responses and also, for the great many who already have sustainability strategies in place, are now in a position to align what they have with where the economy now needs to go,” Mr Tukaki said.

“Another interesting result though has been the 61% of respondents who are now uncertain as to what the day to day impacts will be, so while more people say the announcement provides certainty they are also saying we need to figure out what it now means for us – which is what is happening at the coalface. This is not an unusual thing for business to do when faced with changing situations – it is a case of applying the changes to the business model and strategy, designing strategies to mitigate risk and then plan for the future. This is what happens after wholesale economic reform and if earlier examples of transformation are anything to go by, then business will respond as it always has – finding a way of accommodating it,” Mr Tukaki said,

Mr Tukaki was not surprised at the uncertainty more specifically of the Oppositions policy where 68% of respondents remained confused about what is meant by direct action:

“I think it is pretty clear that while the announcement itself provides some certainty, the next step is for people to translate that into certainty in terms of business operations and what the impacts will be. The release of the exposure draft for the legislation will help with that. However, the trend that appears to be developing is a sense that as more certainty creeps into the equation the Government’s ability to sell an effective message gathers pace, particularly when the Opposition is having clear trouble in selling what it will actually do.

Mr Tukaki said the next thing to consider, is building organisational capacity and strategies.

For questions please contact the CEO, Matthew Tukaki, directly on 0410 481 404.

Matthew Tukaki

Chief Executive Officer

The Sustain Group Pty Ltd

M: + 61 (0) 410 481 404


A: International House, Level 5, 104 Bathurst Street, Sydney NSW 2000

P: PO BOX 21460, World Square, Sydney NSW 2002

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