- Lawyers warn directors. Directors who fail to consider nature risks could be breaching their duty of care and diligence.
- Domestic or imported? How much it costs to sequester CO2 in South Australia will depend on where it's emitted.
- Green infrastructure. The NSW EPA is developing a Protection of the Environment Policy for Sustainable Construction.
- Cabinet changes. The Northern Territory has new ministers in the environment and energy portfolios.
- Lending risk. More than 20% of bank lending is to sectors that carry a high risk of impacting nature.
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More than 70% of companies nominated government regulation, compared to consumer pressure (37%) and investor pressure (235%).
"While we can be cautiously optimistic about the pace of transition in some sectors, even ambitious companies at the forefront of innovation are struggling to meet science-based targets," the stocktake cautions.
We Mean Business has also coordinated an open letter from more than 130 companies urging governments attending COP28 to lay the groundwork for a full phase-out of unabated fossil fuels and for halving emissions this decade.
The European Commission has adopted the latest Carbon Market Report, which reviews the functioning of the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) in 2022 and the first half of 2023.
The strategy comprises three pillars, each underpinned by a range of priorities:
* Pillar 1: ensuring that markets have access to high-quality and comparable information to assess the financial risks that climate change and other sustainability issues present to firms, and the impact of firms on the climate and environment.
* Pillar 2: ensuring that financial regulators can address the impacts of climate change on businesses and the financial system.
* Pillar 3: ensuring government supports the development of sustainable finance markets and helps shape international developments in sustainable finance markets, including through sovereign green bonds.
Comments are due by 1 December.
Directors who fail to consider nature-related risks "could be found liable for breaching their duty of care and diligence", it says.
The opinion was written by Sebastian Hartford-Davis and Zoe Bush.
Five climate-tech start-ups have received a total of $580,000 and business development support through a Climate 10x Accelerator program backed by the federal government, industry, UNSW and the University of Newcastle.
They include SoNiA Green Tech, which has discovered a novel way to manufacture polymer-modified bitumen to significantly reduce energy usage and incorporate waste plastic.
The range of companies eligible to apply for free CSIRO R&D assistance under its Kick-Start program has been significantly expanded, with businesses that have a turnover of up to $10 million now eligible to apply (up from the previous limit of $1.5 million).
A total of 399MW of large-scale generation was approved to earn large-scale generation certificates in September, bringing the total approved in 2023 to 1,559MW, according to new data from the Clean Energy Regulator.
New research by EY, commissioned by the Australian Conservation Foundation, shows $260 billion of all outstanding Australian bank loans, or 22% of bank lending, is to sectors that carry a high risk of impacting nature.
Livestock agriculture, which holds loans totalling $47 billion from leading Australian banks, is the subsector responsible for the biggest impact on nature, the report says.
The research sets out six legacy banking practices that act as barriers to protecting and restoring nature, and identifies ten actions that banks can take to make their lending practices consistent with the UN Global Biodiversity Framework.
Australia has supported a proposal put forward by the US and the EU for the World Bank to operate the proposed new international Loss and Damage Fund that would assist vulnerable countries to respond to the unavoidable impacts of climate change.
Giving the World Bank a key role in administering the Fund would "allow it to start providing funding to where it's needed quickly," Australia's ambassador for climate change Kristin Tilley told Senate Estimates.
Solar technology company SunDrive Solar will use a new $11 million ARENA grant to expand its novel solar cell metallisation technology from prototype-scale (1.5 MW/yr) to commercial capacity (>100 MW/yr).
SunDrive has developed a solar cell metallisation technology that uses copper, a metal that is approximately 100x cheaper and 1000x more abundant than commonly used silver.
The Investor Group on Climate Change has released a discussion paper on making sector transition plans investable.
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 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.
Consultation opportunity. Comments are due by 1 March on draft Australian sustainability standards focused on the disclosure of climate-related financial information released by the Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB).
The state government has announced a $1.3 billion package to progress work on CopperString, which will be Australia’s largest transmission project.
The project will help develop the North West Minerals Province, and the renewable energy potential of North Queensland - ready for construction to start in mid-2024.
The funding package will enable state government-owned Powerlink, alongside construction partners UGL and CPB, to undertake detailed design and engineering and environmental assessments.
The proposed policy is revealed in a progress report on implementing the EPA's climate change action plan.
The progress report also says the EPA is currently establishing climate change industry advisory groups for the mining and agriculture sectors.
The agency is also developing climate change assessment requirements and guidance to ensure project proponents adequately consider climate change in environmental impact assessment processes. It has already started applying interim climate change assessment requirements to large emitting projects.
In addition, it is trialling new methane measurement and monitoring techniques with the University of New South Wales.
Consultation opportunity. A wider range of single-use plastic items would be banned, plastics drinks bottles would need to have tethered lids, and new washing machines would need to have microfibre filters, proposes a discussion paper on plastics released by the EPA. Comments are due by 4 February.
AEMO Services has opened registrations for the fourth tender of the NSW Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap, seeking generation projects located anywhere in NSW that can demonstrate benefits to host communities and financial value to NSW electricity consumers.
Successful participants will be awarded Long-Term Energy Service Agreements (LTESAs), which provide the necessary insurance against future price risk to help fast-track project development.
Consultation opportunity. 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.
Victoria's Container Deposit Scheme came into effect on 1 November. Within nine months, there must be at least one collection point per 14,500 people in metropolitan areas, at least one per town of 750 people in regional areas, and at least one per town of 350 people in remote areas.
Statutory development. A Biosecurity Legislation Amendment (Incident Response) Bill introduced to Parliament aims to improve biosecurity preparedness and responses.
The 2023 annual update on Victoria's transmission infrastructure, prepared by the Australian Energy Market Operator, notes that the state government will introduce a Bill in early 2024 to establish the Victorian Transmission Investment Framework (VTIF).
The VTIF will guide the planning and development of major electricity transmission infrastructure and Renewable Energy Zones.
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.
Newly-released annual reports reports are available from the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, the Sustainability Fund, and the EPA.
Statutory development. Debate has started in Parliament on the Water Miscellaneous Amendments (Delegation and Industrial Water Supply) Bill 2023.
The Bill will enable Tasmanian Irrigation to supply bulk raw water for hydrogen production.
To ensure that the EPA environmental assessment framework is contemporary and meeting the needs of all stakeholders, the EPA Board has initiated a comprehensive review of the entire assessment process and framework, says the EPA's latest annual report.
The review will be presented to the Board in early 2024.
Consultation opportunity. The state government has released a draft emissions reduction and resilience plan for the transport sector, and an associated "state of play" report on the sector. Comments are due by 29 November.
It is based very closely on a Bill introduced by the former state government. However, a significant difference is that this version would introduce a rental payments regime for use of the voids in which CO2 is stored in the state, unless the CO2 comes from sources within Australia.
The rental regime would also apply to the storage of CO2 removed from the atmosphere by Direct Air Capture in Australia, under contract to an international company that is looking for sequestration options that match its overseas emissions.
Consultation opportunity. The state government is seeking views by 22 November on draft regulations to ban e-waste from landfills.
In a major Cabinet reshuffle, former Police Minister Kate Worden has been appointed the Territory's new Environment, Climate Change and Water Security Minister, with former Minister Lauren Moss going to the backbench.
Nicole Manison has taken over the renewables and energy portfolio from Selena Uibo. Manison remains Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Trade, and Minister for Mining.
Joel Bowden, a former general secretary of Unions NT, has been has been elevated to Cabinet as Minister for Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics (previously held by Eva Lawler), and Minister for Business and Jobs (previously Paul Kirby).
Chief Minister Natasha Fyles retains major projects.
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.
Australian news items in all issues of ESG Snapshot can be searched by relevant Sustainable Development Goal category. To do this, click on the '17 SDGs' link at the top of this web page, or on any of the SDG keys below.