Environmental sustainability and industry: road to a sustainable future

12 Sep 2007

Based on the largest survey of environment management practices to be conducted in Australia, this report finds that companies are deeply concerned about greenhouse emissions, and are taking action to reduce their consumption of electricity, gas, water and waste production.

The report involved 810 companies in the manufacturing and commercial construction sectors, representing 10.5 per cent of activity. It examines management attitudes and practices in relation to environmental sustainability and was, in part, aimed at documenting and gaining a better understanding of business environmental performance in Australia.

Key findings in the study include:

• 78 per cent of companies believed they had a responsibility to contribute to a reduction in carbon emissions, even if it increased costs to the business.

• One quarter of firms identified one or more high risks from climate change, while a further 44 per cent identified medium level risks.

• Loss of competitiveness due to cost pressures was considered to be the highest risk deriving from climate change.

• 73 per cent of large firms had a written environment policy.

• Around 40 per cent of companies indicated they had taken one or more actions to lower greenhouse emissions, undertaking research and collaboration with other firms, investing in new technology and processes, and fully offsetting emissions.

• The majority of companies saw opportunities from climate change to promote their company as socially responsible.

• The most critical priority identified by companies was managing electricity usage, however close to 45% of firms considered reduction of water usage another major priority.

• Only 14 per cent of companies stated they understood the concept of an emissions trading scheme (ETS) well or very well while 40 per cent said they had no understanding at all.

• Unsurprisingly, therefore, 69 per cent of companies were undecided on their support for an ETS for Australia.

• The vast majority of activity on environmental sustainability has been undertaken by companies using their own funding.

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