Woodside CEO pushes for carbon policy overhaul

Image: Woodside Energy

Woodside Energy chief executive Peter Coleman has encouraged large resources companies to take action on preventing climate change and form “a low-carbon society”.

Coleman, speaking at the Melbourne Mining Club yesterday, highlighted the country’s ability to advocate for low carbon emissions.

“Australia has all the resources it needs to support a lower-carbon society, both at home and abroad, and to do that in an internationally competitive way that ensures continued growth and jobs for Australia,” Coleman said.

Despite “the lack of a clear roadmap from successive governments,” industry players need to take an action.

“The scientists have warned of the consequences of inaction,” Coleman said.

“Regardless what you think of that science, if we wait to see if the scientists are right or not, it will be too late to act. So, prudence dictates that we think about what contribution we can make, individually and collectively, to mitigating the effects of climate change.”

Coleman prescribed for jobs protection to be made a prerequisite and not a trade off for it, to ensure the success of deep emissions cuts. This way economic competitiveness can be sustained in Australia.

He also pointed to a lack of results when it came to finding new ways of generating energy in fulfilling the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s challenge to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.

“We are working on those, but the reality is the world is still struggling to find consensus around a two degree pathway – and achieving even that will require innovative energy solutions and a growing role for natural gas in the decades ahead,” he said.

Coleman advocated for international carbon offsets to be established so that emissions reduction can be achieved at the lowest global cost.

This should be put forward at the COP 24, or the 24th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in Poland this December.

“As business leaders, we’re used to calculating risk and managing it. Clearly, the risk of inaction is too great,” Coleman said.

“If we are to have a chance of transitioning to a lower carbon economy, large and experienced companies like ours will play a crucial role. Companies that employ thousands of people.

“Companies that are capable of building large facilities and running complex operations. Companies that invest in industrial-scale technologies to deliver efficiencies. Companies that have a track record for supplying energy to customers in Asian mega-cities.”

He said that without an appropriate carbon price, the lowest cost of supply into the market would emit the greatest amount of carbon, thereby offsetting the benefits of renewable energy.