A global network of companies, including ASX-listed Australian Ethical, is urging governments to pay heed to climate science in their COVID-19 recovery plans.
UN Global Compact includes 155 companies that employ over five million people and have a combined market cap of $3.7 trillion.
Its Australian network is asking the federal government to incorporate tougher action on carbon emissions as a part of its COVID-19 recovery plan. It also wants the government to support businesses to reach net zero emissions target before 2050.
"There is a risk that the momentum that has been building around the climate change agenda will be lost as a result of the pandemic and we will remain off track to meet the targets set for 2030 and beyond," Global Compact Network Australia (GCNA) executive director Kylie Porter said in a statement.
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Porter said the Australian federal government should consider establishing a Just Transition or Climate Change Authority to guide Australia to net zero, while taking into account the livelihoods of Australia's regional communities and economies that will be affected by the transition.
"We will need to harness the technologies that exist today to reach net zero. This might mean rethinking the subsidies offered to certain sectors of the economy, putting additional funding into renewable energy technology or re-shaping our grid."
She said, to accelerate this transition, the government should establish a national climate and energy policy framework, introduce stronger market indicators and support renewable energy targets.
Australian members of the network who have signed the statement include Australian Ethical, Yarra Valley Water, Energetics, Edge Environment and Community Services.net Pty Ltd (CSnet).
They are a part of Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), which in Australia is run by GCNA and WWF-Australia and has more than 30 listed companies actively involved in the initiative.