BUSINESS leaders say Australia and New Zealand could cut emissions by at least 15 per cent each and save money at the same time.
A communique from the Australia-New Zealand Climate Change and Business Conference suggests measures taken across power, transport, building, industry, forestry and agriculture sectors could lower emissions and benefit business.
A reduction of government bureaucracy, improving supply contracts so industry could generate electricity to feed into the grid, accelerated green depreciation for buildings and broader energy efficiency measures agreed to by business and government would make substantial cuts to the greenhouse gas emissions of both countries.
Jon Jutsen, executive director of the consultants Energetics, said energy efficiency measures across the economy would save business money. ''The Australian economy is only about 10 per cent efficient,'' he said. ''This means that 90 per cent of the energy in the fuel we dig up is lost in the supply chain and end uses.''
Gary Taylor, chairman of the not-for-profit Climate Change and Business Centre, said a carbon price was essential, coupled with sector-specific measures to combat climate change.
''Australia can learn from New Zealand's experience implementing a price on carbon and New Zealand can benefit from Australia's experience with complementary measures,'' Mr Taylor said.
''The urgent need for strong leadership by business and government and closer collaboration between them was a strong theme of the conference. Businesses have opportunities to improve profitably through acting on energy productivity. While a price on carbon will increase the justification for action, government policy changes are required to maximise carbon mitigation.''
A poll of conference delegates showed the most popular measure for reducing emissions was energy efficiency (29 per cent of respondents). Almost twice as many wanted a cap-and-trade scheme of pricing carbon as opposed to a carbon tax but either would need to be introduced alongside further regulation and funding assistance.