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Australian Investors Demand Corporate Climate Change Transparency

This satellite image provided by NASA on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020 shows wildfires in Victoria and New South Wales, Australia.
This satellite image provided by NASA on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020 shows wildfires in Victoria and New South Wales, Australia.

Three major investor groups representing some of Australia’s biggest finance firms are calling for government regulators to force big companies to disclose how they plan to address financial risks from climate change. The coalition of investors is warning climate change is becoming a major threat to the global economy.

In a new report, the group of major investors from Australia and New Zealand is demanding regulators set new standards for companies reporting on how climate change and global warming affect their business and change the value of investments.

The authors believe the current voluntary disclosure of climate-related risks is failing to provide investors with confidence.

Erwin Jackson is the director of policy at the Investor Group on Climate Change, which contributed to the report.

“Essentially what investors are asking companies are they ready for the impacts of climate change, are they ready for the transition to net zero emissions? But unfortunately, at the moment the information that investors are getting from companies is really inadequate and it is not really allowing investors to ‘kick the tires’ of many companies to see if they are adequate investments in the face of climate risk,” Jackson said.

Australia has suffered devastating bushfires in recent years. The 2019-20 bushfire season burned more than 18 million hectares of land and cost more than $6 billion dollars.

The investor group says it is concerned about the long-term impact of bushfires and droughts in Australia. The majority of Australian company chief executives now consider global warming to be a hazard to economic growth.

All Australian states and territories have a set a target of net-zero emissions, but the federal government has yet to commit to such an ambition.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has insisted his environmental policies are responsible and will not damage the economy.

Coal still generates most of Australia’s electricity, but major retailers, including supermarket giant Woolworths and Telstra, a dominant telecommunications company, have all set ambitious renewable energy targets.

Analysts have said that going green was popular with customers and investors, was good for a company’s public image and also made sound financial sense.