BCA flags 'credible' climate policy as donations surge

Meat processing giant JBS Australia donated $1 million to the BCA's Australian Volunteer Trust, which The Australian Financial Review is supporting, to support the children of volunteers who die responding to major disasters.

Siemens also pledged to match every dollar donated by staff to the Red Cross with a dollar donated to each of the Red Cross and the RSPCA.

BHP donated $2 million to relief efforts through the BHP Foundation. Qantas, Shell, Rio Tinto, Chevron and Bluescope each donated $1 million to bushfire relief and recovery.

The crisis is putting pressure on business to respond to the issue of climate change.

The Business Council came under fire on Tuesday over its historic resistance to ambitious carbon reduction targets.

Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes labelled the BCA a "regressive force" on climate action on Twitter, referring to previous comments by its CEO Jennifer Westacott that an emissions target of 45 per cent would be "economy wrecking".

In a statement, the BCA stood by its previous stance on emissions reduction schemes but acknowledged the need for a "credible" climate policy.

"For over a decade, the Business Council has worked constructively with many stakeholders on the design and implementation of emissions reduction policies," the statement said, noting the BCA's support for previous iterations of emissions policy such as the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and the National Energy Guarantee.

"The climate science tells us that extreme weather events and natural disasters will become more frequent and intense so we need a credible climate change and energy policy that puts us on a transition path to net-zero emissions by 2050.

"We will be working with our members to develop a comprehensive climate and energy policy over the coming months."

Mining billionaire Andrew Forrest, who has donated $70 million to the newly-created Minderoo Foundation Fire Fund alongside his wife Nicola, said he was aware of the need for climate action to mitigate fire risk.

Mr Forrest told the Financial Review he believed in climate change and at least $200 million from Minderoo Group would go to solar and gas projects. He also said that Fortescue was aiming to be the first carbon-neutral major mining house in the world.

He said he accepted warming of the planet "was the primary cause of the catastrophic events we have been experiencing".

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