ESG Snapshot: Issue 20

ESG Snapshot: Issue 20

Highlights include:

  • The whole package. New Australian packaging laws will cover design and recycled content, and will ban the use in packaging of PFAS and other harmful chemicals.
  • $3.2 billion. Chevron has released new details about the cost and performance of its Gorgon carbon capture and storage project.
  • Natural capital. Westpac has set a new 2030 goal to end deforestation associated with its lending for dairying and grazing.
  • EPBC online. The federal government has scheduled two webinars on the state-of-play of its EPBC Act reforms.
  • Farm target. Fonterra has adopted a new goal for dairy farm emissions.

Do you want a job with Frasers Property, the RACV, or Village Roadshow? Check out this issue's jobs board! Are you looking for a conference on circularity? See this issue's conference listings!

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Carbon capture and storage has seen another year of significant growth, with 198 new facilities added to the project pipeline in FY23, according to the latest annual global status report from the Melbourne-based Global CCS Institute.

There are now 41 operating CCS projects, which have a total annual CO2 capture capacity of 49 million tonnes. The total project pipeline capacity has expanded to 361 Mtpa of CO2, a 48% increase from 2022.

In the Asia-Pacific region, there are currently 54 facilities in development, construction or operation, with 34 of these added over the last 12 months.


The Ellen Macarthur Foundation and the UN Environment Programme have released the latest progress report of the Global Commitment program, which aims to phase-out plastic waste.

The Global Commitment program has shown meaningful progress can be made, but the world remains off-track, the progress report says.

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📌 Issue highlight. A meeting of federal state and territory environment ministers has agreed that the federal government will mandate how packaging is designed, set minimum recycled content requirements, and prohibit the use of harmful chemicals, such as PFAS, in packaging.

Ministers also endorsed a national traceability framework – so that Australian businesses using recycled materials or buying products made from recycled materials will know whether the recycled component is free of contaminants, and whether it is imported or Australian.

Full supply chain traceability of recycled content could be in place by 2028, according to a DCCEEW webinar held earlier this year. This would allow time for businesses to map their supply chains, implement traceability systems and, where necessary, re-negotiate supply contracts to facilitate information sharing.

Ministers also decided at last Friday's meeting to better coordinate work on product stewardship schemes.

The ministerial decisions were welcomed by the Australian Local Government Association, and by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation.

The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association also welcomed the changes, but warned Australia "is well off track to meeting its national targets for resource recovery". 

The federal government will host webinars on 23 November and 28 November on the state-of-play of its proposed EPBC Act reforms, with bookings to open shortly here.


Consultation opportunity. The federal government is inviting comments by 13 December on its consultation paper for a proposed agriculture and land net-zero plan.


The governments of Australia and Tuvalu have signed the Falepili Union treaty, which provides the people of Tuvalu with a "special human mobility pathway" to Australia, and greater support for climate change adaptation.

The new visa category will allow up to 280 Tuvalu citizens to come to Australia each year, with special rights to work, study and access services.

Australia will also contribute to the new Pacific Resilience Facility (PRF), a Pacific-built trust fund that will be established to invest in small-scale climate and disaster resilient projects.


Submissions to a Greens-instigated inquiry into the Northern Territory's Middle Arm development are now available, with submitters including Santos, SunCable, the NT Environment Protection Authority, CSIRO and several environment groups.


An online tool for rapid economic modelling of potential resource development projects in various Australia sites has been extended to include green hydrogen, iron and steel. 

The mapping tool now allows users to focus on the regional availability of renewable energy and evaluate how renewable energy performance will influence costs in iron and steelmaking.  


ARENA has provided a $5.43 million grant to aerospace start-up AMSL Aero to help develop an aircraft powered by a hydrogen fuel cell system.

The $10.86 million project aims to demonstrate the feasibility of renewable hydrogen as a fuel for a five-passenger aircraft with a range of up to 1,000km.


ARENA has shortlisted 31 applications (seeking a total of $231 million) to submit full applications for funding under round one of its Community Batteries Funding program, with a total of $120 million on offer under the funding round.


More than 250 submissions about setting and achieving Australia's emissions reduction targets are now available on the Climate Change Authority website.


The website of the National Reconstruction Fund, which aims to increase the flow of finance into sectors including renewables and low emissions technologies, is now live.


A Senate Committee has released its report on the government's Water Amendment (Restoring our Rivers) Bill, with Labor senators calling for its passage with amendments.

Coalition senators opposed passage of the Bill, the Greens said it should not be passed in its current form, and Senator Lidia Thorpe also called for amendments.


The public comment period on the government's proposed future gas strategy closes today.


A Senate committee inquiring into climate change-related marine invasive species has unanimously recommended that the federal government develop a fishery for a type of native sea urchin, known as Centro, which is becoming invasive in some areas due to climate change.

In additional comments, the Coalition said that "Australia’s fishing and broader marine industries have been exposed to a perfect storm of pressures", by the government.

"These have included the spread of marine seismic surveys, carbon storage, bans on different kinds of fishing and netting, and offshore wind farms," the Coalition said.


The Clean Energy Council's submission on the government's Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin (REGO) scheme cautions on the need to closely examine the likely interplay between REGO and the RET in the latter part of the decade.


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


Consultation opportunity. Comments are due by 1 December on the government's proposed sustainable finance strategy.


The Centre of Decommissioning Australia (CODA), which aims to support the decommissioning of ageing oil and gas infrastructure, has signed a partnership agreement with the Norway-based Centre for Subsurface Well Integrity, Plugging and Abandonment


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


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).

Queensland
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The federal and state governments will jointly provide a $40 million grant through the Recycling Modernisation Fund for the construction of a $137 million paper recycling facility in south-east Queensland by AusWaste Recycling. Construction will be completed in 2025.

New South Wales
📌 Issue highlight. NSW has taken an innovative approach to decarbonisation, but its competitiveness challenge should not be under-estimated, because many other jurisdictions are also racing towards net-zero, says a new study from the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer.

The decarbonisation innovation study says it is critical that Circular Economy principles and practices are an integral element of the development of NSW's Net Zero economy industries in NSW.

It also notes that Australia’s per capita energy consumption is going in the direction.

Between 2002-03 and 2018-19, Australia’s energy consumption per person increased by 0.2% per year. By comparison, the UK, United States, European Union, Canada and Japan all cut consumption, some by more than 20%.

The Department of Planning and Environment has placed on exhibition PlasRefine Recycling's proposal for a plastics recycling facility at Moss Vale.

The facility would handle up to 120,000 tonnes of plastic annually, including mixed soft plastics and PVC.


The federal government has released EnergyAustralia's EPBC referral for a 500MW/2000MWh battery storage system to be located near its Mt Piper power station.


Consultation opportunity. Comments are due by 4 February on a discussion paper on plastics released by the EPA.

Victoria

Consultation opportunity. Victoria's Threatened Species Committee has made a preliminary recommendation that salvage logging of burnt forests be treated as a potentially threatening process under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act. Comments are due by 10 December.


Statutory development. The state government has gazetted the Environment Protection Amendment Regulations 2023, which mostly deal with waste.


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.

SunCable has announced Tasmania's Bell Bay as the preferred location for the manufacture of its high-voltage sub-sea cables. Currently, all advanced HVDC sub-sea cable manufacturing facilities are located in the Northern Hemisphere.

Bell Bay is the favoured site due to its proximity to one of the country’s few natural deep-water ports, rail infrastructure, and renewable energy infrastructure, according to the state government.


Consultation opportunity. The state government intends overhauling Tasmania's threatened species strategy. Comments on a discussion paper are due by 22 December.


Consultation opportunity. Comments are due by 29 November on a draft emissions reduction and resilience plan for the transport sector released by the state government.

Western Australia

In a new report to the state government, Chevron says it's Gorgon CCS project has so far injected more than 8.5 million tonnes of CO2.

The company has so far surrendered more than 7.5 million carbon credits to make up for the shortfall between the required injection rate and the actual rate.

Chevron says it has "invested more than AU$3.2 billion in the Carbon Dioxide Injection System with further investment planned in the coming years to improve system performance and increase injection rates".


Consultation opportunity. Comments are due by December 4 on a proposed refresh of Western Australia's critical minerals strategy, with a discussion paper canvassing views on which value chain segments should be prioritised.


Lithium has become Western Australia's second most valuable mineral, after iron ore, new data on mineral and petroleum sales shows.

Lithium (spodumene concentrate) achieved all-time high sales of $21 billion on the back of record prices and expanding production, making it WA's second most valuable mineral. 

Iron ore sales totalled $125 billion, and the value of LNG sales surged to a record $56 billion, almost $18 billion more than in FY22.


A proposal by Woodside Energy to revegetate up to 5,700 hectares of state-managed degraded land in Perth's north and Midwest has been invited to Stage 3 assessment under the state government's Carbon for Conservation Market-led Proposal process.

The proposal would involve planting native species that benefit Carnaby's Black Cockatoo over multiple years, while potentially providing increased employment opportunities for Aboriginal people and the local community.

Unsuccessful project proponents, that did not progress past stage two, include GreenCollar, CO2 Australia, and Corporate Carbon.


The EPA has recommended approval of the proposed expansion of the Lynas rare earths mine, in the state's Goldfields region.


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

Northern Territory

Grant opportunity. Applications close on 5 January for grants under the $1.5 million Circular Economy NT (CENT) 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.


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 20 to 21, Circularity. A conference in Melbourne, hosted by Planet Ark's Australian Circular Economy Hub.
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. 
December 14, COP28 outcomes. An online webinar convened by Better Futures Australia.
Jobs Board
Australia Post is hiring a Melbourne-based sustainability analyst (12-month fixed-term contract).
DCCEEW is recruiting for several assistant directors in its National Security and International Coordination Branch.
The federal Department of Industry, Science and Resources is hiring policy and senior policy officers to help achieve a net zero economy.
Engineers Australia has a vacancy for a climate change manager.
The federal government is recruiting for members of its Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee (soon to be known as the Carbon Abatement Integrity Committee).
Frasers Property Australia is hiring a Melbourne-based sustainability coordinator for its development line of business.
The Net Zero Economy Agency has vacancies for several directors.
The RACV is hiring a Melbourne-based environmental and emissions analyst.
The Victorian Health Building Authority is recruiting an environmental sustainability manager.
Village Roadshow is hiring a Melbourne-based ESG manager - reporting and climate change.
Company news and resources
The latest climate action report from Orica supports the introduction of a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), saying it would avoid Australian companies facing unfair competition from imports manufactured in countries with less mature carbon pricing regimes.

The company next year expects to make a final investment decision on its Hunter Valley Hydrogen Hub, which is being co-developed with Origin Energy, the report says.

The company is also expecting its first tranche of carbon credits to be issued in 2024 from a major Kooragang Island decarbonisation project.
Bega Cheese has started a roll-out of recycled PET in some of its milk-based beverage containers, and is using 50% recycled HDPE in some of its milk containers, according its latest sustainability report.
Fonterra has released a Climate Roadmap and its first Climate-related Disclosure report, and has introduced a new goal of a 30% intensity reduction in NZ on-farm emissions by 2030, from a 2018 baseline.

“There is significant variation within and across farming systems when it comes to emissions intensity," said Fonterra chairman Peter McBride.

"We are confident that we can make solid progress towards our target by working together and sharing information farmer-to-farmer."

A total of 86% of Fonterra's emissions come from on-farm. The company also this month released an updated guide to reducing on-farm emissions.
National Storage undertook a physical climate risk assessment of its portfolio in FY23, says its latest sustainability report.
Energy company Spark has extended by three years the terms of its NZ$200 million sustainability-linked loan facility. The loan facility will now mature in November 2026.
The installation of solar/gas/diesel hybrid power stations at four facilities operated by Westgold Resources will reduce its annual emissions by 57,000 tonnes, says its latest sustainability report.
In FY23, Westpac participated in 58 sustainable finance transactions, launched a carbon footprint tracker in its Westpac app, launched a new sustainable farm loan in Australia, and a new sustainable business loan in NZ, says the bank's new climate disclosure report.

The bank has also now set 2030 targets for eight sectors, which jointly account for 48% of its financed scope 1 and 2 emissions.

Westpac has also released its inaugural natural capital statement, and an updated climate change position statement and action plan, which set a zero-deforestation target for loans for dairy, beef and sheep farming.

The new agriculture deforestation goal will apply from the end of 2025. Westpac has also set 2030 emissions intensity reduction targets for dairy, beef and sheep farming activities, from a 2021 baseline. (See video here).

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