Courtesy: Dan Freeman
ESG Values in Practice – A Lesson From Australia
在實施 ESG 價值觀方面,澳大利亞是另一個有趣的案例。 它的變化主要歸因於聯邦政體。 聯邦立法機關可以就與國家憲法有關的所有事項通過法律。 此外,各州和領地由不同的司法管轄區管轄,這些司法管轄區在更多地方實施法律。 在促進 ESG 價值觀方面,這些可以由英聯邦以及不同的州和領地政府強制執行。 值得強調的是,澳大利亞目前沒有集中的 ESG 法規來源,而且大部分分散在不同的 ESG 領域。
澳大利亞 ESG 相關法規的形成
查看環境立法為該國如何實施 ESG 價值觀提供了一個可靠的例子。澳大利亞的這種結構更類似於美國政府執行 ESG 法規的方式,而不是新加坡的規則。聯邦政府制定了一套通用規則。例如,全國的企業身份有義務報告溫室氣體排放、能源消耗以及社會問題,例如其供應鏈中的現代奴隸制風險。此外,州和地區政府可以進一步執行更集中的法律。
在英聯邦層面,政府通過了 1999 年環境保護和生物多樣性保護法,旨在保護對國家環境具有重要意義的環境方面。因此,在大多數情況下,這組目標相當廣泛且沒有重點。舉個例子,該法案希望提高國家確保保護其生物多樣性的能力,確定哪些地方可以成為國家遺產名錄的一部分,並促進環境保護的伙伴關係。
另一方面,《2017 年環境保護法》可以作為全州實施立法的代表性案例。該法案在維多利亞州實施,其主要目標包括為維多利亞州環境保護局 (EPA) 提供規定,並製定 11項環境保護原則。更簡單地說,該法案描述了 EPA 應如何與其他私人和公共行為者合作,以盡量減少污染和廢物對人類健康和自然環境的影響。
澳大利亞是最後一個宣布實現淨零排放計劃的發達國家之一。 2021 年 10 月,莫里森政府公佈了澳大利亞的長期減排計劃,並承諾到 2050 年實現這一目標。此外,應在保護澳大利亞就業和當地工業福祉的同時實現環境目標。該議程應該基於五項原則運作:技術而不是稅收;擴大選擇而非授權;降低一系列新技術的成本;通過負擔得起的可靠電力降低能源價格;並且,對進步負責。政府承諾投資 200 億美元用於低排放技術,並釋放至少 800 億美元的私人和公共投資總額。正是新技術應該促進澳大利亞成為綠色國家。據統計,澳大利亞正走在到 2030 年底減排高達 35% 的正確道路上。
就像世界上許多國家一樣,澳大利亞的投資者和利益相關者也為推動 ESG 價值觀的實施做出了巨大貢獻。他們的行為比之前探索的案例研究更加突出。儘管澳大利亞廣泛的ESG 報告是自願的,並且只有某些行為者有義務根據 ESG 相關法案進行報告,但投資界有強烈的動機來促進道德投資選擇和提高透明度。 COVID 大流行極大地推動了解決 ESG 相關問題的解決方案的增長。然而,一些研究人員表示,這場運動的起源甚至在疫情爆發之前就開始了,主要歸因於澳大利亞氣候變化話語的普及。投資者積極要求披露與氣候相關的信息,許多在澳大利亞證券交易所上市的公司——ASX 200 指數自願響應他們的號召。
ESG 價值觀在澳大利亞的實施無疑是朝著正確的方向發展的。 聯邦政府意識到需要製定法規來鼓勵公司更加透明地運作。 地方當局也努力實施將改善本州情況的具體目標。 值得注意的是,私人和公共實體之間的合作為雙方帶來了優勢。
Australia is another interesting case when it comes to implementing ESG values. Its variation is attributed predominantly to a federal system of government. The federal legislature can pass laws in all matters related to the country’s constitution. Furthermore, the states and territories are ruled by separate jurisdictions, which implement laws on more local bases. When it comes to the promotion of ESG values, those can be enforced by the Commonwealth, as well as different state and territory administrations. It is worth highlighting that Australia does not currently have a centralized source of ESG regulations, and most of them are dispersed around different ESG areas.
Forming of ESG-related Regulations in Australia
Looking at the environmental legislation provides a solid example of how the country puts into practice the ESG values. The structure in Australia is much more similar to how the United States government executes ESG regulations rather than those in the rule of Singapore. The Commonwealth Government institutes a general set of rules. For instance, corporate identities in the whole country are obligated to report on greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption, as well as social issues such as the risk of modern slavery among their supply chains. Besides, state and territorial governments can further carry out more concentrated laws.
At the Commonwealth level, the government passed the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, which aims for those aspects of the environment that are of national environmental significance. Therefore, for the most part, this set of objectives is 2 quite broad and unfocused. To give an example, the Act hopes to enhance the nation’s capacity to ensure the conservation of its biodiversity, establishes which places can become a part of the National Heritage List, and promotes a partnership approach to environmental protection.
To further facilitate the cooperation between the government and investors, those in the rule of Australia decided to implement the set of principles for social impact investing (Figure 1). The regulations include government as market enabler and developer, value for money, robust outcomes-based measurement and evaluation, fair sharing of risk and return, outcomes aligned with the Australian Government’s policy priorities, and co-design. The authorities hope to create an innovative mechanism to address social and environmental issues throughout the structure that unites both the public and private sectors through this initiative.
On the other hand, the Environment Protection Act 2017 can serve as a representative case of legislation implemented statewide. The Act was put into action in the state of Victoria, and its main objectives include providing for the Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) and setting out 11 principles of environmental protection. To put it more simply, the Act describes how the EPA should work with other private and public actors in order to minimalize the consequences of pollution and waste on human health and the natural environment.
Australia was one of the last developed nations to announce their plan of achieving net zero emissions. In October 2021, the Morrison government published Australia’s Long Term Emissions Reduction Plan and pledged to accomplish such goal by 2050. In addition, the environmental objective should be achieved with preserving Australian jobs and wellbeing of local industries. The agenda is supposed to operate based on five principles: technology not taxes; expand choices not mandates; drive down the cost of a range of new technologies; keep energy prices down with affordable and reliable power; and, be accountable for progress. The government pledged to invest $20 billions in low-emission technologies and unlock at least $80 billions of total private and public investment. It is the new technologies that are supposed to foster Australia’s advancements towards being a green state. According to the statistics, Australia is on the right path to reduce emissions by up to 35% by the end of 2030.
The Role of Australian Investors
Just like in many countries around the world, investors and stakeholders in Australia also contribute to a big push for the implementation of ESG values. Their actions are even 3 more prominent than in previously explored case studies. Even though broad-based ESG reporting in Australia is voluntary and only certain actors are obligated to report under ESG-related acts, the investment community has a strong incentive to promote ethical investment options and increase transparency. The COVID pandemic has significantly fueled the growth in solutions addressing ESG-related issues. However, some researchers say the origin of the movement started even before the outbreak and is mainly attributed to the popularization of the climate-change discourse in Australia. Investors are actively demanding climate-related disclosures, and many of the companies listed on the Australian Securities Exchange - ASX 200 index voluntarily answer their calls.
Such turn of events shows the necessity for the government to act quicker and further facilitate the demands of the retail investors. However, the Australian government wishes to embrace this kind of voluntary attitude among corporate identities and not advise specific approaches or ban different types of investments. With the current attitudes of investors and the general public, such attitudes can bring a myriad of positive results.
The implementation of ESG values in Australia is undoubtedly headed in the right direction. The Commonwealth Government is aware of the need for regulations encouraging companies to function more transparently. The local level authorities also work hard to implement specific objectives that will improve the situation in their states. Notably, the collaboration between the private and public entities brings advantages for both sides.
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About the Author
Patryk Chojecki is a researcher and writer at Taiwan Architecture and Building Center. He is currently a graduate student at National Chengchi University in Taipei. He is passionate about all topics related to international politics, environment, and international political economy.
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