‘By the time the science is proven, it will be too late to act,’ chief Peter Coleman says
Woodside’s Peter Coleman wants a price on carbon ‘to ensure the most effective energy gets into the system’. Photograph: Daniel Munoz/AAP
Woodside Petroleum chief executive, Peter Coleman, has joined mining giants BHP and Rio Tinto in calling for a price on carbon to help with emissions reduction targets and the transition to renewable energy.
But the energy minister, Angus Taylor, has claimed Australia doesn’t need a carbon price as emissions levels are coming down – a position at odds with the government’s official emissions data and independent modelling.
He also claimed the companies would benefit economically from putting a higher price on carbon – but has not put forward any evidence to support that claim.
“There is almost no other country in the world that has the credentials of Australia in reducing carbon emissions,” Taylor told ABC radio on Wednesday. “We are bringing emissions down, and we’re doing extremely well.”
The latest government data showed overall greenhouse gas emissions climbed 1.3%, to their highest quarterly levels in eight years.
Woodside Petroleum had been an outspoken opponent of carbon pricing under Julia Gillard’s former Labor government.
However, its current chief, Coleman, says investors are increasingly concerned about the company’s sustainability measures, and the issue should be dealt with through an appropriate global approach.
“We need a price on carbon. We need to ensure the most effective energy gets into the system,” he told the ABC on Tuesday evening.
“We don’t want to have perversive outcomes where lowest-cost energy suppliers are competing against renewables, and we end up in a situation where we’ve invested a lot in renewables but in fact see no benefit from a carbon point of view.”
Industries such as shipping need to be incentivised to transition to cleaner energy, he added.
“If you believe in the science or not really doesn’t matter,” Coleman said. “By the time the science is proven, it will be too late to act. So it’s prudent to act today.”