The US also has no national carbon pricing regime, although some states such as California do. Liveris said he was a fan of California’s form and the scheme operating in the European Union for the past 16 years.
“It’s one of these issues that, if not well explained, there will be a lot of resistance,” Liveris said.
“If a carbon price is interpreted as increased cost to the consumer, that’s a non-starter. Or if a carbon price mechanism is seen as enriching bankers, that’s a non-starter, too.
“So I’m not going to say this is low-hanging fruit. But I am saying it’s the next logical step.”
Donald Trump tapped the Australian to head the American Manufacturing Council in 2016, labelling him “one of the most respected businessmen in the world”.
Barack Obama appointed him co-chair of his progressive Manufacturing Partnership in 2011, and he is close to figures in the current Democratic administration.
Liveris expects his work on carbon pricing might look similar to his effort over the past year to rally political and corporate sustain for Biden’s historic $US1.2 trillion ($1.62 trillion) infrastructure bill.
“My convening strength is known by the government,” he said. “And if I’m asked to please help get the private sector to rule on carbon pricing, then I’ll say yes.
“Whether we like it or not – and I think it’s true in Australia – the business community is often seen as aligned to the right. That has truly never been my stance. I’m aligned to the centre to get the best of both.
“I’m not changing stripes. I’m just trying to get the answer that’s best for the country.”
Liveris last year chaired the federal government’s manufacturing taskforce that recommended a gas-pushed strategy to create jobs in the sector.
The Saudi Aramco and IBM director is one of several senior Australian business figures in Scotland for the Glasgow climate talks. Santos chief executive Kevin Gallagher, Fortescue chairman Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest, Rio Tinto chief executive Jakob Stausholm and BHP chief commercial officer Vandita Pant have also joined the talks.
“I’ve always thought that business, government and civil society has been coming into a triangle,” Liveris said. “We always thought government would be at the apex of the triangle, that they would set the rules and business would follow.
“In climate discussions, the triangle has flipped.”
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