ESG Snapshot: Issue 21

ESG Snapshot: Issue 21

Highlights include:

  • For rent. South Australia will charge rent if other countries export CO2 to the state for sequestration, under a new law.
  • Asbestos audit. Victoria's efforts to stamp out illegal asbestos disposal are off-track, according to the state's Auditor-General.
  • More gas scrutiny. More types of gas projects are set to be examined for water impacts, Senate debate has revealed.
  • Clean energy law. South Australia now has a dedicated law for licensing large-scale wind, solar, and hydrogen projects.
  • On your bike. Tasmania is offering new rebates for the purchase of e-bikes, e-scooters, and e-skateboards, as well as EVs.

Do you want a job with the ACTU, APA Group, Brambles or Monadelphus? Check out this issue's jobs board! Are you looking for a webinar on accounting for nature? See this issue's event listings!

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A UN analysis of 168 national climate plans (known as NDCs) shows they are insufficient to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.

The analysis says the NDCs could result in global emissions peaking before 2030, but only if all conditional actions in the plans - which are dependent on elements such as finance and technology transfer - are fully implemented.

The 168 plans cover 94.9% of total global emissions. The report was issued in the lead-up to the COP28 climate talks that will take place in Dubai from 30 November to 12 December.

CDP, which collects sustainability data from thousands of companies around the world, has released a position paper on carbon credits.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development is inviting applications for its 2024 Leadership program, as well as for its LEAP program, which aims to empower women to attain senior leadership positions in their organisations. Employees of BCSDA member organisations are welcome to apply.

📌 Issue highlight and consultation opportunity. A new discussion paper canvasses views on the merits of introducing an Australian Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, similar to the EU CBAM.

The paper notes there are alternative or complementary measures that could help prevent Australian industry shifting to countries with less rigorous climate policies.

These include Safeguard Mechanism measures, emissions product standards, targeted public investment in company decarbonisation efforts, and involvement in multilateral initiatives.

The next phase of the carbon leakage review will analyse and model leakage risks, and assess the feasibility of policy options.

The review is led by Professor Frank Jotzo. Comments are due by 12 December.

The Energy and Climate Change Ministerial Council will meet on Friday. Ahead of the meeting, the Clean Energy Council has released a briefing paper on the agenda items.

Australia can reduce its emissions to 85% below 2005 levels by 2035, according to new scenario modelling and an associated report from Climateworks.

To cut emissions in line with keeping temperature rise below 1.5°C, Australia would need to aim for net-zero before 2040, more than a decade sooner than its current commitment of 2050, the analysis concludes. 

In addition to reducing emissions (and not as a substitute for emissions reduction), the report says a massive increase in the amount of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) - mostly from tree plantings and ecosystem restoration - will be needed.

Former federal environment ministers Robert Hill and Peter Garrett, along with many cross-bench politicians at the federal and state level, are among the signatories to a new Forest Pledge campaign that aims to end the logging of Australia's native forests.

A range of environment groups and scientists are also campaign signatories.

The Senate has passed the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Amendment (Using New Technologies to Fight Climate Change) Bill 2023, after lengthy debate.

The Bill paves the way for Australia to import and export CO2 for sequestration. Coalition senators supported the government Bill, but all cross-bench senators opposed it.

Issue highlight and grant opportunity. Applications are now being accepted for a share in $150 million on offer from ARENA under round one of the Industrial Transformation Stream (ITS).

The ITS funding will primarily go to regional decarbonisation, with a focus on industrial process heat and off-road transportation.

The first hearing of a Senate inquiry into residential electrification will take place on Wednesday, with appearances by organisations including the Energy Efficiency Council, Ai Group, Electranet, AusNet, and Ausgrid.

Statutory development. Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has introduced the EPBC Amendment (Expanding the Water Trigger) Bill 2023, which would expand the remit of the independent scientific committee that currently examines the water impacts of proposed coal seam gas projects and large coal mines.

The Bill would expand the committee's scope to include other types of proposed gas projects, including fracking projects such as Beetaloo.

Labor advised it supports the Bill's intent, and will expand the committee's role through its EPBC reforms, adding that it has already offered the committee's expertise to the NT government if and when it assesses projects such as Beetaloo.

The Coalition signalled its opposition to an expanded role for the committee.

Consultation opportunity. Comments are due by 31 January on a discussion paper for the government's proposed First Nations clean energy strategy.

Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen has appointed Suzanne Thompson, director of the Indigenous Carbon Industry Network, to the Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee, which will soon be known as the Carbon Abatement Integrity Committee.

Thompson is also a member of Landcare Australia’s First Nations Landcare Working Group and Chair of Australian Native Foods and Botanicals.

The reporting date for a Senate inquiry into Australia's extinction crisis has again been extended, this time to June 2024.

The National Environmental Law Association has released a position paper on environmental offsets.

The Green Building Council of Australia and the Australian Sustainable Finance Institute have released a guide for the real estate sector to sustainable finance products.

The Australian Hydrogen Centre has released a study examining how a 100% renewable hydrogen distribution system could optimally be achieved. 

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

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.

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 climate-focused disclosure standards released by the Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB).


The Department of Environment and Science is inviting submissions by 31 January for new End-Of-Waste codes. EOW codes specify criteria that must be met in order for a particular waste to be reclassified as a resource.

New South Wales

A new draft Energy Policy Framework updates guidelines for benefit sharing, and for wind, solar, and transmission infrastructure.

The draft package is aligned with recommendations made by the Electricity Supply and Reliability Check-Up and the NSW Agriculture Commissioner's report on renewable energy generation and agriculture.

Comments are due by 18 December. Local and online meetings have also been scheduled.

The NSW Forestry Corporation must pay $500,000 towards four environmental projects under a legally-binding Enforceable Undertaking with the EPA, after it illegally harvested of 17 protected trees on the NSW mid-North Coast.

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


Statutory development. Parliament has passed the Environment Legislation Amendment (Circular Economy And Other Matters) Bill 2023.

The Bill introduces a "periodic fee" for waste-to-energy facilities, to cover administration costs incurred by Recycling Victoria.

It also makes clear that liquidators are not personally liable for any on-site clean-up costs incurred by the EPA in the event of a licence-holder becoming insolvent.

The Bill will also ensure the EPA can retain a financial assurance previously provided by a licence-holder, if it becomes insolvent but there are still environmental and financial risks associated with its site or activity.

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

Consultation opportunity. Companies will usually be allowed to self-assess waste and waste soils containing PFAS, under EPA proposals to implement changes to bring its PFAS classification regime into line with the PFAS National Environmental Management Plan (PFAS NEMP) thresholds. Comments are due by 21 December. A webinar on the changes is scheduled for 30 November.

Consultation opportunity. Comments are due by 21 December on proposed updated EPA guidance for waste soil sampling.

Victoria's Asbestos Disposal Management Plan is not achievable within the allotted time and budget, concludes a report by the Victorian Auditor-General's Office on reducing the illegal disposal of asbestos.

Victoria’s total net emissions fell by 32.3% between 2005 and 2021, meaning that its 2021 emissions are already within the range of the state's 2025 target (a reduction of between 28–33% below 2005 levels), says the newly-released Victorian Greenhouse Gas Emissions Report 2021.

The financial performance of VicForests in FY23 was fundamentally impacted by litigation brought by environment groups, says the agency's latest annual report.

VicForests had planned to harvest $112 million in timber, but instead harvested $17 million in timber, the report says.

Consultation opportunity and statutory development. Comments are due by 15 December on a draft Waterways Protection Model By-Law that would be used by catchment management authorities (CMAs) to prepare their regional waterways protection by-laws.

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.

Consultation opportunity. A draft emissions reduction and resilience plan for the state's waste sector focuses mainly on the need to reduce the landfill disposal of organic waste. The draft plan is accompanied by a state-of-play report. Comments are due by 19 December.

The state government has also launched a new waste and resource recovery strategy for 2023 - 2026.

The state government has launched a rebate program for the purchase of e-bikes, e-skateboards and e-scooters, with rebates ranging from $250 to $1,000 available.

The state has also introduced a separate rebate program for the purchase of electric cars, and will soon launch a no-interest loan regime for the installation of home charging systems for EVs.

The EV rebate is available for the purchase of new EVs or second-hand EVs that are "new to Tasmania".

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

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.

Statutory development. Parliament has passed the Hydrogen and Renewable Energy Bill, which aims to establish an efficient and flexible licensing and regulatory framework for hydrogen generation and renewable energy infrastructure in South Australia.

Five licence types will be created for renewable energy projects, from the early research and feasibility stage through to the construction, operation and closure of facilities.

The licence types include a renewable energy feasibility licence or permit, a renewable energy infrastructure licence, a renewable energy research licence, a hydrogen generation licence, and an associated infrastructure licence.

A further licence type, called a special enterprise licence, aims to facilitate the establishment, development or expansion of hydrogen and renewable energy enterprises of 'major significance' to the state's economy. 

Statutory development. Parliament has passed the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy (Energy Resources) Amendment Bill, which empowers the state government to charge rent for CO2 that is imported from overseas for sequestration in the state.

Western Australia

Statutory development. The state government has issued an exemption order under the Environmental Protection Act designed to speed the development of renewable energy projects.

The exemption order allows the Minister for Lands to lease Crown land to renewable energy proponents while their proposal is being assessed by the EPA, but before the government has granted project approval.

A carbon capture and storage hub in the Pilbara could sequester up to 40 million tonnes of CO2 annually, according to a new study.

The study also examines (in less detail) a potential Perth-Kwinana CCS hub.

It notes that WA is home to 69 of the 215 facilities covered by the Safeguard, and says WA hubs could also provide storage services to other countries.

The study was commissioned by the state government and prepared by CSIRO and the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute.

CSBP Ltd's proposal to expand ammonia production at Kwinana, using fossil gas and a gradually increasing amount of renewable hydrogen as feedstock, should be approved subject to conditions, according to the EPA's assessment report.

The project will emit up to 539,003 tonnes of greenhouse gas annually, and CSBP is investigating a range of mitigation options.

Former WA Appeals Convenor Darren Walsh has joined the EPA board, replacing Dr Jenny Pope.

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.

Northern Territory

The NT EPA has launched the public comment period for additional EIS information provided by the proponents of the Sun Cable project. Comments are due by 8 December.

NT Chief Minister Natasha Fyles has signed an MoU with Samsung C&T Corporation Engineering & Construction for a potential large-scale renewable energy generation, transmission and storage in the Territory, including photovoltaic, wind, hydrogen and battery energy storage systems.

Samsung C&T and the NT government will establish a working group to investigate the feasibility of the project.

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 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 27, Introduction to the Accounting for Nature Framework. A one-hour online webinar, hosted by AfN.
November 27, Facilitating credible business decarbonisation. A webinar hosted by the Energy Efficiency Council.
November 28, ANU energy update. Hosted by the ANU, with a keynote address by Professor Frank Jotzo.
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
The ACTU is recruiting a Melbourne-based climate and energy project officer (12-month contract).
APA Group is hiring a Melbourne-based lead, sustainability program.
Aurora Dairies, which operates 54 farms in Australia and New Zealand, has a vacancy for a Melbourne-based environment and sustainability manager.
Brambles is hiring a Sydney-based sustainability reporting and disclosure manager.
Engineers Australia is seeking a Sydney-based climate change manager.
Monadelphus has a vacancy for a Perth-based marketing and communications advisor - sustainability.
Stockland is hiring an operational sustainability manager and a sustainability integration analyst, both based in Sydney.
WWF is recruiting a senior manager, energy transition (location negotiable).
Company news and resources
ANZ has released its latest climate-related financial disclosures.
IFM Investors has signed a memorandum of understanding with agribusiness company GrainCorp focusing on the production of Sustainable Aviation Fuel. "Australia is well placed to become a significant global producer of SAF," IFM says.
KPMG has released a Net Zero Readiness Report that looks at 24 countries, including Australia.
Macquarie Asset Management will invest up to €175 million in Netherlands-based sustainable aviation fuel company SkyNRG, supporting the company's efforts to become a major SAF producer in Europe and the US.

Macquarie Asset Management has also released its FY23 sustainability report.
National Australia Bank has released its latest climate report.
Pepsico is facing a new lawsuit brought by New York State for harming the public and the environment with its single-use plastic packaging.
Critical minerals company Tivan has partnered with CSIRO on a novel vanadium processing technology, to help establish a domestic vanadium industry in Australia, which has 18% of global vanadium pentoxide resources.

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