Hard facts on climate change and carbon trading have finally emerged from the fog of speculation, confusion and misinformation surrounding the issues and their implications for business.
General manager of Origin Energy, Peter Israel, spoke at a recent Australian Institute of Company Directors briefing in Maroochydore and he was keen to separate fact from fiction, with backing from numerous reputable sources.
"I looked at what the economic modelling is telling us as to what an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) will do to Australian business and there is a lot of hot air about the issue," he said.
"For example, the Garnaut Report and the Climate Roundtable work indicate the economy will grow only slightly less quickly when you have an ETS - it is 0.1% per year reduction in GDP.
"People think it's doom and gloom and we will all be broke, but already hundreds of organisations are focusing on some element of the carbon economy … banks and large consultants are investing money in new forms of low emission generation like wind and high efficiency gas.
"McKinsey and Co. indicate the cost per household of an aggressive reduction target (where you cut emissions by 30% by 2020) is just under $300 a year, or 80 cents a day - so that really is minimal.
"PricewaterhouseCoopers put out a release saying by the middle of the century the carbon-related economy will be worth about $15 trillion US - so low emissions technology, products and services to do with greening the environment will become even more important."
Mr Israel said the ETS, which will be introduced in 2010, is targeted at the big end of town, especially power stations, fuel refineries and resources companies.
It aims to capture 75% of the nation's biggest greenhouse gas emitters, which number only about 1000.
"But it will start coming down to the middle of the economy and SMEs will get opportunities to become more sustainable in the way they go about their business," he said.
"Employees and customers are expecting that these days, they are demanding to know how much C02 your company produced to make your product.
"Companies need to be thinking about how carbon-intensive their production is.
"Everybody will have carbon costs associated with their products priced into those products, so we'll all start to choose with our hip pockets and the products that use the least carbon will be more popular."
Mr Israel advised businesspeople to do an emissions audit on the internet, at sites like www.environment.gov.au
"Over the next year, spend time looking at their emissions footprint, whether they are captured by the ETS or not and what other things they can do to become more sustainable."