ESG Snapshot: Issue 18

ESG Snapshot: Issue 18

Highlights include:

  • Climate disclosure. Proposed Australian disclosure standards give companies a clear picture of what's expected of them, and differ in some respects from the international template.
  • Landmark bill. A healthy environment is a human right, says a new ACT bill.
  • Delayed. Debate on the Nature Repair Market Bill has been pushed back.
  • Supergrid. A Queensland bill will enshrine in law three renewables targets, and establish a wide-ranging framework to achieve them.
  • Grants on offer. Victoria is offering manufacturers grants for net-zero aligned projects.

Do you want a job with Country Road, APA Group, or Sandfire Resources? Check out this issue's jobs board! Looking for a conference on climate smart engineering? Check the event listings!

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The European Council has approved the EU's COP28 negotiating position, which calls for a global phase-out of unabated fossil fuels and a peak in their consumption in this decade.

The global average surface temperature is already about 1.2 °C above pre‑industrial levels, and greenhouse gas emissions have not yet peaked, points out the International Energy Agency's latest World Energy Outlook.

The energy sector is also the primary cause of the polluted air that more than 90% of the world’s population is forced to breathe, linked to more than 6 million premature deaths a year, it points out.

However, the emergence of a new clean energy economy, led by solar PV and electric vehicles, provides hope for the way forward, it says. 

Investment in clean energy has risen by 40% since 2020, and more than US$1 billion a day is being spent on solar deployment, the report notes. In 2020, one in 25 cars sold was electric – in 2023, this is now one in five. More than 500GW of renewables generation capacity are set to be added in 2023 – a new record.

Carbon prices are expected to rise dramatically as ambitious emissions reduction commitments are met, and disparate markets converge, says a new report titled Investing in carbon markets: cleared for take-off, written by Carbon Growth Partners and Bloomberg.

The UK's new Energy Act requires manufacturers of fossil fuel heating appliances to ensure that heat pumps account for an ever-increasing proportion of their total appliance sales.

It also includes new measures to encourage the development of carbon capture and storage, hydrogen, and nuclear power projects.

📌 Issue highlight and consultation opportunity. The Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB) has released draft Australian sustainability standards focused on the disclosure of climate-related financial information.

The AASB is the federal government's accounting standards body.

The draft Australian standards, which are based on disclosure standards published by the international IFRS Foundation, are open for comment until 1 March.

EY has released a briefing that examines differences between the proposed Australian standards, and the IFRS standards.

Staffing levels in DCCEEW have increased by slightly more than 500 over the past 12 months, and the department is strengthening its presence in regional areas, a Senate Estimates hearing has heard.

In other Estimates highlights:
* there is strong interest in offshore wind, with 37 applications for feasibility licences offshore from Victoria's Gippsland region, each envisaging projects of about two gigawatts in size.
* EVs in September constituted 8.4% of new car sales, compared to 3.8% in September 2022.
* A DCCEEW-convened stakeholder working group will meet today and tomorrow to discuss core elements of the government's proposed EPBC reforms.

The CEFC has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) to cooperate across the hydrogen, renewable energy and electricity infrastructure sectors as both nations strive to decarbonise their economies. 

Under the MoU, the CEFC and JBIC will consider co-investment opportunities in Australia, and will share investment knowledge and experience to support and fast track investment in the clean energy transition in Australia and Japan. 

The government's Nature Repair Market Bill won't come before the Senate for debate until at least late April next year, following a decision to extend the reporting date for a Senate committee inquiry into the Bill from 1 November this year to 18 April next year.

The federal government will invest $69.2 million through its hydrogen hubs program to develop the Central Queensland hydrogen hub in Queensland.

The hub could produce up to 292,000 tonnes of hydrogen by 2031, for use domestically and for export. Stanwell Corporation is leading the consortium developing the project, with industry matching the federal contribution. Construction will start next year.

Law firm Gilbert + Tobin has issued a review of a "busy month in Australian climate litigation", which discusses the implications of three significant court cases.

"Australia is moving rapidly from laggard to 'early follower' on sustainable finance", says the third annual progress tracker released by the Australian Sustainable Finance Institute.

AEMO’s latest Quarterly Energy Dynamics report shows that wholesale electricity prices averaged $63 per megawatt hour (MWh) in the September quarter, down 41% from the June quarter ($108/MWh) and 71% ($216/MWh) from Q3 2022.

Renewables (wind, grid-scale and rooftop solar, hydro and other sources) contributed 38.9% of total electricity supply.

Award opportunity. Nominations close on 18 December for the 2024 Banksia sustainability awards.

Consultation opportunity. The Australian Energy Regulator has released a draft directions paper on social licence issues for electricity transmission infrastructure, with comments due by 1 December.

The federal government has announced a $2 billion expansion of the Critical Minerals Facility, which previously had a $4 billion allocation, while an Australia-US Taskforce on Critical Minerals held its first meeting last week.

Consultation opportunity. Comments are due by 15 December on a discussion paper on the future of the Climate Active program.

The paper 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.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Clean Energy Council have launched a careers for net zero website, while a new global climate jobs online platform called includes an Australian section.

The Investor Group on Climate Change has released a report on transforming Australia's emissions-intensive regions.

The National Farmers Federation has launched a Keep Farmers Farming campaign that calls for a mandatory code of conduct for transmission projects, withdrawal of the federal government's Water Amendment (Restoring Our Rivers) Bill, and "balanced reform" of the EPBC Act.

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.

📌 Issue highlight and statutory development. The Queensland government has introduced an Energy (Renewable Transformation and Jobs) Bill, which will give legislative force to the state targets of 50% renewable energy by 2030, 70% renewables by 2032, and 80% by 2035, and create a reporting and review mechanism.

The Bill also requires the government to prepare a strategy that will deliver 100% public ownership of transmission and distribution assets, 100% public ownership of deep storage assets, and at least 54% public ownership of generation assets.

In addition, the Bill enacts a Priority Transmission Investment framework to facilitate the identification, assessment, and construction of high-voltage backbone transmission infrastructure, as well as a framework for declaring and managing Renewable Energy Zones.

It also requires the development and regular updating of a Queensland SuperGrid Infrastructure Blueprint, and provides for a Priority Transmission Investment framework to facilitate the rapid deployment of renewables.

It also enshrines in law the state's Job Security Guarantee, to ensure workers in coal-fired power stations have a secure future, and clear employment pathways.

The Bill will also establish three new advisory bodies – the Queensland Energy System Advisory Board, a tripartite Energy Industry Council, and a Queensland Renewable Energy Jobs Advocate to advise on work opportunities.

The state government has released a Clean Energy Workforce Roadmap.

Lockyer Valley Regional Council has received approval from the Clean Energy Regulator to earn carbon credits by diverting kerbside-collected food and garden organics from landfill.

New South Wales

The EPA is seeking public comment by 27 November on its five-yearly review of the environment protection licences for the Eraring, Mount Piper, Vales Point and Bayswater coal-fired power stations.

Bids are open until 1 November in the latest reverse auction for contracts to sell biodiversity credits to the Biodiversity Credits Supply Fund.

The federal and NSW governments have each provided $3 million for a study investigating the feasibility of recycling water from four major food processors in Tamworth. The food processors account for 25% of the town's use of potable water.

The Department of Planning and Environment has placed on exhibition GMR Energy's proposed $209 million, 150MW/300MWh Armidale Battery Energy Storage System, with comments due by 23 November.

The state government has amended its Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Heritage Management Plan, so that it authorises aerial shooting to reduce the number of wild horses in the park. 

📌 Issue highlight and statutory development. The ACT government has introduced a Human Rights (Healthy Environment) Amendment Bill, which amends the ACT's Human Rights Act to include the right to a healthy environment. 

The move will make the ACT the first Australian jurisdiction to enshrine the right to a healthy environment. 

An explanatory statement notes that the UN General Assembly in July 2022 adopted a non-binding resolution declaring access to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, to be a universal human right. Australia and 160 countries votes in favour of the resolution. 

Grant opportunity. Applications from Victorian manufacturers must be submitted by 13 December for grants of between $100,000 and $750,000 to support projects that contribute to the state's transition to net-zero. The grants are being offered through the Made in Victoria - Energy Technologies Manufacturing Program.

Victoria's fledgling State Electricity Commission has released its 2023-2025 Strategic Plan. The plan says the SEC will invest an initial $1 billion to help support 4.5GW of new renewable energy generation and storage.

All remaining parts of the Circular Economy (Waste Reduction and Recycling) Act 2021 that are not yet in force will take effect from 1 November, the government has declared.

The state government has launched an $8 million Green Hydrogen Price Reduction scheme, to encourage businesses to produce, sell and use green hydrogen in the state.

Applicants will be asked to nominate their proposed sale price of green hydrogen and their cost of production. Payments to successful recipients will cover the difference between the cost of production and a competitive sale price for their green hydrogen.

The scheme aims to support green hydrogen projects ranging in size from 5MW to 10MW.

Consultation opportunity. The state government has released a draft emissions reduction and resilience plan for the transport sector, which is accompanied by a "state of play" report on the sector. Comments are due by 29 November.

The federal government is consulting on a proposed offshore wind zone in Bass Strait, off the Tasmanian coast, with comments due by 31 January.

The state government has announced that a consortium comprising ATCO Australia and BOC is its preferred partner to design a hydrogen production and generation project at Whyalla that will incorporate 250MW of electrolysers. EPIC Energy will provide a dual-purpose storage and transmission pipeline for the facility.

Western Australia

More than 2,600 Synergy customers with solar power have signed up to a Solar Rewards scheme that gives them a $100 electricity bill credit if they agree to allow Synergy to briefly turn off their solar when electricity demand is low and solar generation is high. The scheme went live on 1 October.

A voluntary program allowing homeowners in Port Hedland's West End to sell their properties to the government has been extended for two years. The homes are exposed to dust from iron ore loading operations at the Port, and the program is funded through a levy on iron ore exporters.

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

Northern Territory

Statutory development. The Territory government has introduced to the Assembly its Environmental Protection Legislation Amendment (Mining) Bill, which introduces a new three-tier risk-based licensing system for mining activities.

Statutory development. The government has also introduced a Legacy Mines Remediation Bill, which expands public participation provisions, and expands the range of activities that can be funded through the Mining Remediation Fund.

Grant opportunity. The Territory government has launched a new $1.5 million Circular Economy NT (CENT) grant program, which is prioritising projects that minimise construction and demolition waste, and food and garden organic waste. Applications for e-waste and industrial waste projects will also be accepted.

The minimum grant is $50,000 and applications close on 5 January.

The Territory government has released its third annual climate change action progress report.

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 – and the role of solar PV. Delivered by Professor Renate Egan, executive director of the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics.
November 13 to 17, Asia-Pacific climate week. Hosted in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, by the Johor state government in collaboration with the Malaysian government. It is one of four regional climate weeks designed to build momentum ahead of COP28.
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. 
Jobs Board
Acciona is recruiting a Melbourne-based sustainability manager.
APA Group has a vacancy for a sustainability program lead, based in Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne.
Cattle Australia is seeking a Canberra-based policy manager - environment and sustainability.
Country Road Group has a vacancy for a Melbourne-based head of sustainability.
The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts is hiring an assistant director and policy and program officers to work on surface transport emissions and policy.
Downer EDI Ltd is seeking a Brisbane-based sustainability manager.
Powerlink is hiring a Brisbane-based senior sustainability advisor.
Sandfire Resources is recruiting a Perth-based head of sustainability.
Scentre Group has a vacancy for a Sydney-based sustainability program manager.
Plantations business SFM Agribusiness Pty Ltd is seeking a Launceston-based carbon projects coordinator.
Community service provider Uniting is hiring for the new Melbourne-based role of project lead, environmental sustainability.
Cleaning and waste company IKON Services has a vacancy for a Melbourne-based head of ESG.
Company news and resources
In FY23, packaging business Pact Group produced more than 54,000 tonnes of recycled material, in conjunction with its joint venture partners, up 42% on the previous financial year, says its latest sustainability report.

In FY23 Pact also signed partnerships with Woolworths and Aldi for the supply of recycled-content plastic packaging, and reduced its operational emissions by 12% from its FY21 baseline.
Uranium mining company Paladin Energy has released its 2023 sustainability report.
In FY23, copper mining company Sandfire Resources sourced 56% of its global electricity from renewables, according to its latest sustainability report.
In FY23, Treasury Wine Estates completed 21 solar installations across nine sites, including Australia's largest winery solar system, says its latest sustainability report.

It now sources nearly 20% of its electricity from renewables and is on track to become powered by 100% renewable electricity by the end of 2024.

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