Qantas CEO warns Australian government that imposing carbon tax would distort aviation industry
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce
Thu 28 Oct 2010 – Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has said it would be a mistake for the Australian government to proceed with plans to introduce a carbon tax, arguing that regions or countries introducing carbon taxes or emissions trading schemes would distort the global aviation industry. Having dropped plans earlier in the year for a national emissions trading scheme, the government recently signalled it is considering a carbon tax and putting a price on carbon. Meanwhile, Joyce is to join a new roundtable set up by the government to engage the business community on its climate change policies and advise on carbon pricing. The airline has announced it has been placed sixth in this year’s Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index for Australia and New Zealand.
Referring to the government’s plans, Joyce told reporters in Brisbane: “Having regions or individual countries imposing an emissions trading scheme or a carbon tax can cause distortions for the industry and will cause distortions to the industry. It needs to be a global approach.”
When asked if a carbon tax would have a negative effect, Joyce said: “Of course it will – we're one of the biggest users of fuel. What I think is going to be important is that Australia doesn’t go on its own and employs a tax that causes distortion and competition.”
Qantas spent A$3 billion ($2.9bn) on aviation fuel, he said, which could be easily transferred over to sustainable alternative fuels. He called for government and private industry support to develop these fuels. Australia had the land mass, technology and expertise to create an alternative to conventional aviation fuel and Qantas had already positively tested algae and ethanol based technology, he said.
In conjunction with other Australian and New Zealand members of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group (SAFUG), Qantas launched a roadmap study in March to accelerate the development and implementation of such fuels in the region. The study is being carried out by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s national science agency, and its report is due to be published early next year.
Joyce will join leaders of 18 other leading business organizations on the Australian government’s Roundtable, which is expected to play a critical role in providing advice to the government on the economic and business issues surrounding climate change.
“The introduction of a carbon price will reshape the business environment for all Australian companies, providing businesses with the certainty they need to begin the transition to a low pollution economy,” announced Greg Combet, Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. “This new Roundtable will ensure that the views of the business community are front and centre as we progress this important economic reform.
“Business leaders around the country understand that if we are to remain internationally competitive over the long term, then our industries must become less carbon intensive. The best way of doing this is by establishing a carbon price in the economy.
“The simple fact is that in order to promote business certainty and to underscore Australia’s long-term competitiveness, introducing a carbon price is the only economically responsible thing to do.”
Meanwhile, Qantas has been listed in the 2010 Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index for Australia and New Zealand. Out of the 31 companies included in the index, the airline was placed joint sixth with a score of 91 out of 100 – News Corporation scoring highest with 94.
Disclosures made to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) are seen as a valuable toolfor investors to quantifycompanies’ carbon emissions and climate change exposures and therefore the potential investment implications of these issues.
The Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index comprises companies with the highest disclosure scores. Specifically, it includes the top third of companies according to their disclosure score, but with a minimum score of 70 out of 100. These companies are expected to have demonstrated a strong understanding and management of company-specific exposure to climate-related risks and opportunities; a strategic focus and commitment to understanding the business issues related to climate change from the top of the organization; an ability to measure and manage the company’s carbon footprint; and regular and relevant disclosure to key corporate stakeholders.
Qantas has also been included in the Carbon Performance Leaders list for 2010, which is aimed at assisting investors to identify leading companies in carbon management.