Dutch firm Robeco is seeking to work with institutional organisations in Australia to engage with the Federal Government over its climate change policies.
Speaking to Money Management, Peter van der Werf, engagement specialist at Robeco, said climate challenge was an “urgent challenge” for Australia given the extreme weather events in recent years.
The firm recently set up a Climate Bond strategy which allocated to government’s bonds based on their country’s ability to meet the Paris Agreement target and Van der Werf said he had “strong reservations” about Australia.
Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, had so far refused to set a formal commitment to net zero by 2050 and had held the 2030 target since 2015 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26%.
“If we look at the Federal Government, we have strong reservations about the progress that Australia is making. We urge Australia to make firm commitments to align with the Paris Agreement. The economy is so dependant on natural resources that it will be a challenge but there is already a transition underway that will negatively affect the Australian economy,” van der Werf said.
“There will be changes coming to the coal mining industry and, while there will still be a place for it, it needs to be phased out. Australia needs to think about how it can be more resilient and find something to replace its dependence on coal.”
Van der Werf said the firm had recently started engaging with sovereigns for the first time, having previously only focused on corporate engagement, and said Australia was in the firm’s sights.
“We preferred corporate engagement until now as sovereign engagement is difficult and challenging as there are so many different decision makers,” he said.
“We have started with Brazil and Indonesia who we are talking to about deforestation but would like to expand to other countries and Australia would be one of those to talk to about climate change, if we can find the right coalition of organisations to work with.”
This included both Australian institutions, which he said already had “broad recognition of climate change”, and climate change organisations.
Countries which he felt were doing better were mostly in Europe where he said countries were setting firm targets and ramping up their use of renewable energy.