Australian businesses call for climate crisis and virus economic recovery to be tackled together

Innes Willox, chief executive of the Australia Industry Group, says Covid-19 and climate are ‘urgent’ challenges that overlap

A leading Australian business group is calling for the two biggest economic challenges in memory – recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and cutting greenhouse gas emissions – to be addressed together, saying it would boost growth and put the country on a firm long-term footing.

Innes Willox, chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, representing more than 60,000 businesses, says economic recovery from the virus and the transition required to meet net-zero emissions by 2050 are overlapping issues that should be taken on together.

“There’s a lot that we can do to rebuild stronger and cleaner,” Willox planned to say on Tuesday, according to a speech released in advance.

“The need is urgent. Covid-19 and climate are bigger than any economic challenge we’ve faced in the last century.”

Willox is among a band of community leaders and industry groups urging governments to back climate solutions in the pandemic recovery rather than projects that entrench or increase emissions.

They include the Investor Agenda, a global group of institutional investors and managers with members responsible for more than $55tn worth of assets. In a statement released on Monday, it said governments should avoid prioritising “risky, short-term emissions intensive projects”, and that accelerating the shift to net-zero emissions could create significant employment and economic growth while improving energy security and clean air.