A new report from the Australia Institute shows the four major banks and big retailers are investing in low carbon technologies.
The institute said the four banks have invested $4.5 billion in low-carbon infrastructure projects, and retail giants Costco and Woolworths have invested more than $1.8 billion.
It said the retail sector is likely to be the biggest contributor to the $9 billion spent on climate change mitigation projects over the next two decades, which is expected to be a big contribution to achieving climate goals.
“It’s a clear sign of the urgency that has developed over the last decade to ensure that we are able to meet the global warming targets we have set,” said Australia Institute climate policy director and chief executive of the Climate Change Institute Paul Chubb.
The report also found the big four banks are likely to make more than double the expected contribution to the national debt by 2030.
“The big four, the big six, all have their own financial institutions that are also contributing to the debt,” said Dr Chubb, who is a professor at the University of New South Wales.
“So there is a financial incentive to do something.”
For the big banks, the biggest financial institutions, the banks have been in this position for quite some time.
“What we are seeing is they are increasingly taking on a financial role in climate change and in this case it’s really a challenge for them.”
The report showed the four big banks and the retail giants have collectively spent more than three times more than the government’s $10 billion target on low carbon infrastructure projects.
The four big four have invested in climate mitigation projects including the $2.4 billion for a solar farm in Perth.
“That’s a big investment, it’s a very significant investment, and it’s not a small one,” Dr Chub said.
“But there is also a significant contribution to national debt, and that’s not going to be going away anytime soon.”
The four biggest banks have spent more on low- carbon infrastructure than the $10 million the government is spending on mitigation projects, the report found.
Woolworths has spent $1 billion on renewable energy projects in the past year, while Costco has spent more $1 million in the last three years.
“I think that is the biggest reason that Costco and Costco have been able to get on board and say we are willing to do this,” Dr Clinch said.
Costco and Woolies have also committed to providing $2 billion of climate finance over the first three years of the plan.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics also released its latest national climate change forecast.
The agency forecast the nation will face climate change by 2100 if carbon dioxide emissions continue at current levels.
“We expect a peak in the climate change impacts from 2030 and beyond, but that does not mean we will be out of the problem,” a spokeswoman for the agency said.