ESG Snapshot: Issue 17

ESG Snapshot: Issue 17

Highlights include:

  • Top billing. Parliaments in four states are processing major bills.
  • World leaders. Queensland can lead the world in carbon- and biodiversity-friendly farming, says a panel with members including professors Hugh Possingham and Andrew Macintosh.
  • Reactivated. Big changes are on the way for the Climate Active certification program.
  • Natural high. NSW's Biodiversity Credits Supply Fund is exceeding expectations.
  • The pits. Victoria has amended water-taking rules for its three big coal mines, once they close and convert to pit lakes.

Do you want to be Downer's group manager of sustainability, or Victoria Police's advisor on climate strategy? Check out this issue's jobs board! Looking for a conference on energy infrastructure and community engagement? Check the event listings!

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The international Financial Stability Board has delivered its latest progress report on climate-related disclosures to G20 Finance Ministers. The Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures simultaneously released its latest - and final - progress report on TCFD disclosures.

Meanwhile, California governor Gavin Newsom has signed into law two climate disclosure bills (here and here).

Businesses purchasing credits from voluntary carbon markets are more likely to report lower gross emissions year-on-year, and invest more in emissions reductions, than companies not engaged in carbon markets, according to a new international study by Ecosystem Marketplace, prepared with the support of sponsors including We Mean Business.

๐Ÿ“Œ Issue highlight and consultation opportunity. A discussion paper on the future of the Climate Active program proposes raising the bar for certification, by requiring certified entities to prepare strategies to reduce scopes 1, 2 and 3 greenhouse gas emissions.

Tighter constraints would also apply to the use of international offsets, and certified organisations would have to source at least a certain amount of their electricity from renewables.

Comments are due by 15 December.

The Clean Energy Regulator's latest quarterly carbon market report says the ACCU price trended down over the second quarter of 2023, while only a modest 526MW of new large-scale new renewables generation reached a final investment decision.

The Climate Change Authority has released a CSIRO report on reducing the costs of CO2 sequestration.

Large battery storage projects in Victoria and South Australia, as well as other projects in the two states capable of providing dispatchable energy to the grid, can now take the first step towards applying for support through federally-administered Capacity Investment Scheme (CIS) agreements.

The agreements provide project developers with greater investment certainty, by specifying an agreed revenue floor and ceiling.

The SA-Vic CIS process will target 600 MW of dispatchable renewable capacity with 4-hour-equivalent duration across the two states.

The Clean Energy Regulator has released guidance for facilities covered by the Safeguard Mechanism on applying for an Emissions-Intensity Determination (EID). An EID will be crucial in calculating a facility's Safeguard liability.

Grant opportunity. ARENA has invited expressions of interest from proponents of large-scale renewable hydrogen production projects for funding through the $2 billion Hydrogen Headstart Program. Expressions of interest must be lodged by 10 November.

A joint parliamentary committee on trade and investment has released a report on transitioning Australia to a green energy superpower, which recommends the development of a cross-portfolio national green energy superpower strategy.

"Supporting the net zero transformation" is one of the national priorities listed in the new five-year National Skills Agreement struck between the federal, state and territory governments.

Climateworks has released a report on Delivering Freight Decarbonisation.

There are currently 18 CCS projects at various stages of progress in Australia, aiming to jointly sequester 20 million tonnes of CO2 a year by 2035, according to Resources Minister Madeleine King. 

Submissions to a Senate inquiry on residential electrification are now available.

The FY23 annual report of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation is now available, as is the latest annual report of the Clean Energy Regulator.

The Clean Energy Council has released a package of 45 recommended measures to ensure Australia reaches 82% renewable energy by 2030.


Statutory development. Parliament has passed the Gas Supply and Other Legislation (Hydrogen Industry Development) Amendment Bill, which expands the scope of legislation regulating the transport of petroleum and fossil gas to encompass hydrogen and other renewable gases.

๐Ÿ“Œ Issue highlight. Emerging carbon and nature markets will be pivotal in encouraging landholders to go beyond mere compliance with native vegetation protection laws, according to a Queensland government response to an independent review of land clearing in the state.

The report of the independent panel, led by Professor Hugh Possingham and with members including Professor Andrew Macintosh, as well as the government's response, are now available.

The panel proposes an 'engage, inform, incentivise and reward' approach. It says changing legislation can cause panic clearing, and there are now greater opportunities for landowners to benefit by protecting biodiversity and storing carbon.

"Queensland has an opportunity to become a world leader in carbon- and biodiversity-friendly farming and to realise a significant market advantage as a result," the panel says.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Mick de Brenni have officially opened the 180MW Octopus/RES Dulacca wind farm.

State-owned CleanCo has a power purchase agreement to take 70% of Dulacca's output.

The state government has announced a range of new measures to encourage high quality engagement and local participation in preparations for regional energy projects.

The state government will also examine whether the role of the state's GasFields Commission - which aims to ease tensions between gas projects and farmers - should be expanded to include promoting coexistence among renewable energy developers, mining and resource companies, farmers, and other regional interest groups.

Logan City Council has received a $291,785 ARENA grant to investigate producing biomethane, biochar and fertiliser from kerbside-collected food and garden waste. The waste would be processed at the Loganholme wastewater treatment plant.

The state government is seeking responses by 30 October to a survey on zero-emission vehicles.

New South Wales

Statutory development. The state government has introduced its Climate Change (Net Zero Future) Bill, to enshrine the state's emissions reduction targets in law and establish an independent, advisory Net Zero Commission that will also play a role in promoting climate action in the state.

The Bill will give legislative force to the state's existing targets of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030, and reaching net zero by 2050.

Statutory development. Parliament has passed the the Waste Recycling and Processing Corporation (Authorised Transaction) Amendment Bill, which enables the Waste Assets Management Corporation to accept the transfer of contaminated land, and oversee its management or remediation. The Bill passed within a week of its introduction.

Statutory development and consultation opportunity. Submissions are due by 10 November on draft legislation to align the state's environmental laws with the recently introduced federal IChEMS regime.

Consultation opportunity. The state government is seeking feedback by 15 November on proposed changes to its Peak Demand Reduction Scheme.

๐Ÿ“Œ Issue highlight. After three auction rounds, the NSW Biodiversity Credits Supply Fund is on track to out-do initial expectations that it would purchase and re-sell biodiversity credits worth $200 million in its first three years of operation, says a new market update from the Department of Planning and Environment.

Since the Supply Fund commenced operations, 11% of credit purchases through the biodiversity market have occurred via the Supply Fund, representing 21% of the total market value, the update says.
๐Ÿ“Œ Issue highlight. New amendments to the 2020 rehabilitation strategy for the Latrobe Valley's three brown coal mines focus to a large extent on the crucial issue of their access to water, to enable their conversion to pit lakes.

The amended strategy says potential access to surface water for mine rehabilitation should be restricted to the wettest times of the year, and mine licensees will not be allowed to take more surface water than they have historically used. The amendments leave open the option of using desalinated or recycled water.

Depending on when each mine closes, and if each void needs water, up to 2,800GL could be required, equivalent to six times Melbourne's annual water use.

Statutory development. The state government has introduced the Environment Legislation Amendment (Circular Economy and Other Matters) Bill, which introduces a "periodic fee" for waste-to-energy facilities, to cover administration costs incurred by Recycling Victoria.

The Bill will also allow the EPA to retain an entity's financial assurance while there are still environmental and financial risks associated with a site or activity, even if the entity that provided the assurance becomes insolvent and/or disclaims responsibility. The move aims to ensure taxpayers don't have to fund the clean-up of pollution or contamination.

In addition, the Bill clarifies cost recovery arrangements under the state's imminent Container Deposit Scheme.

A new FY23 progress report on the state's VRET scheme says that renewable energy sources accounted for 37.8% of Victoriaโ€™s electricity generation in FY23, up from 34.1% in FY22.

As at 30 June 2023, there were 17 renewable energy generation projects under construction or undergoing commissioning in Victoria, with a combined capacity of 1,734MW. A total of 551MW of rooftop solar was also installed.

The state government has relaxed rules for access to its Solar Homes rebate and interest-free loans, and will now allow homeowners to access the program again if they move to a new property. It will also allow homeowners to access it to replace PV systems that are more than 10 years old.

The state government has released the implementation plan for its Climate Change Action Plan, which describes the lead agency, approach, and timeframe for completing each action.

Consultation opportunity. Comments on the state government's discussion paper on a proposed revamp of its 20-year infrastructure strategy are due by November 13.

Western Australia

Statutory development. The Legislative Assembly has passed the Electricity Industry Amendment (Distributed Energy Resources) Bill, and it is now before the Legislative Council. The Opposition has indicated its support for the government Bill.

The Bill introduces an overarching state electricity objective that includes an environmental consideration, streamlines regulatory arrangements for the state's major grid, and includes measures to support the uptake of distributed energy resources.

South Korean steel company POSCO and French energy company ENGIE will jointly study the feasibility of using renewable hydrogen to power POSCO's proposed Hot Briquetted Iron (HBI) plant in Port Hedland, the state government has announced.

Statutory development and consultation opportunity. The state government is seeking views by 22 November on draft regulations to ban e-waste from landfills.

October 25 and 26, All-Energy Australia. An event in Melbourne.
October 25 and 26, Decommissioning offshore infrastructure. A conference in Perth, hosted by Informa.
October 26 and 27, Asia-Pacific hydrogen summit and exhibition. An event in Sydney, hosted by the Sustainable Energy Council and the Australian Hydrogen Council.
October 31 to November 2, The 2023 energy from waste conference. An event in Sydney, hosted by the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia.
November 3, the National Environmental Law Association annual conference. To be held in Melbourne, with the theme of 'Intersecting crises of climate change and biodiversity loss - where to next for Australian environmental law?'
November 7 to 9, The 21st world wind energy conference. An event in Hobart, hosted by the World Wind Energy Association.
November 9, ANU Solar Oration 2023: Generation change โ€“ and the role of solar PV. Delivered by Professor Renate Egan, executive director of the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics.
November 14, Sustainable food and beverages. A virtual event, hosted by the Swedish Australian Chamber of Commerce.
November 20, Australian carbon capture, utilisation and storage conference. An event in Perth, hosted by Informa.
November 21, Residential energy performance summit. An event in Melbourne, hosted by the Energy Efficiency Council.
November 22 and 23, Climate Ready Australia national summit. In Brisbane and online, hosted by Griffith University's Climate Action Beacon and Climate Ready Initiative.
November 28, ANU Energy update. Speakers to be advised.
November 29 and 30, Climate smart engineering. A conference in Melbourne, hosted by Engineers Australia.
November 30 to December 1, Energy infrastructure and community engagement. A conference in Sydney, hosted by Informa.
December 4 and 5, AdaptNSW forum. An event convened by the NSW government. 
Company news and resources
Aldi, via consultancy Corporate Carbon, has registered a national project to earn Australian Carbon Credit Units by diverting organic waste from landfill.
Aurizon has released its latest sustainability report.
Lendlease has released the first version of its Scope 3 emissions protocol, which describes the company's view of its scope 3 reporting boundary, and aims to contribute to efforts to define a global approach to reporting Scope 3 emissions associated with real estate, development, and construction.
Mineral Resources has released its latest sustainability report.
Jobs Board
The Australian Climate and Biodiversity Foundation is hiring a policy specialist.
The Clean Energy Regulator has a vacancy for an assistant manager, climate-related disclosures.
The federal Department of Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water is recruiting for a range of senior positions (SES Band 1) in its Energy Group.
Victoria's Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action is hiring a delivery manager for the state's Transmission Investment Framework Renewable Energy Zone engagement officer for the state's north-west.
Downer EDI is recruiting a group manager, environment and sustainability, based in Brisbane.
TasWater is hiring a sustainability and climate change lead for its renewable energy portfolio.

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