ESG Snapshot: Issue 22

ESG Snapshot: Issue 22

Highlights include:

  • Carbon and nature. Levying all carbon credit projects to fund the restoration of high conservation value habitat would have major benefits, says a new EY report.
  • Duty of care. Independent Senator David Pocock's Intergenerational Climate Equity Bill is in line with emerging international legal trends, but its reach should be expanded, says global investment and advisory firm Pollination.
  • 'And the winner is'. Victoria's 2023 Premier's sustainability award recipients have been announced.
  • COP this. Some handy resources on what to expect from COP28.
  • Flat out. ACT owners corporation committees can now get grants for apartment block solar.

Do you want a job with Sydney Water, rail authority V-Line, or consultancy Niche? Check out this issue's jobs board!

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With the COP28 climate talks in Dubai due to start at the end of this week, some backgrounders about what they should deliver and what they might deliver include:

Guidelines for banks on nature target-setting has been released by the UN Principles for Responsible Banking, with ANZ and Suncorp among the financial institutions involved in their development.

The European Commission has opened its Innovation Fund 2023 call for proposals, with a record €4 billion on offer to support the deployment of innovative decarbonisation technologies. The Fund is financed from revenue sourced from the EU emissions trading scheme.

Oil and gas producers face pivotal choices about their role in the global energy system, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency.  

The IEA Oil and Gas Industry in Net Zero Transitions report notes that oil and gas companies account for only 1% of clean energy investment globally.

The US$800 billion currently invested annually in oil and gas is double what is required under a 1.5 degrees scenario, it adds.

"Producers need to explain how any new resource developments are viable within a global pathway to net zero emissions by 2050 and be transparent about how they plan to avoid pushing this goal out of reach," the report says.

Bloomberg Philanthropies has released a new "net zero pathfinder" report for heavy industry.

📌 Issue highlight. The federal government has announced a major expansion of its Capacity Investment Scheme (CIS), with the aim of delivering 9GW of dispatchable capacity, and 23GW of variable capacity nationally.

The scheme uses a reverse auction process to award contracts for the supply of renewable energy and storage. The contracts will specify agreed revenue floors and ceilings.

A pilot CIS auction round in NSW has resulted in six contracts being awarded for projects worth $1.8 billion that will deliver 1,075MW of firmed renewable energy by the end of 2025.

The successful projects are AGL Energy's proposed 500MW/1,oooMWh battery at Liddell, Iberdrola's 65MW/130MWh battery in Smithfield (Sydney), Akaysha Energy's Orana Renewable Energy Zone 415MW/1,660MWh battery, and three Enel X virtual power plants.

📌 Issue highlight. Pollination Law, a part of global advisory and investment firm Pollination, has supported independent Senator David Pocock's climate change intergenerational equity Bill, in a Senate inquiry submission.

The bill would establish a duty to consider the health and wellbeing of children in Australia when making decisions likely to result in greenhouse gas emissions greater than 100,000 tonnes.

It would also establish a duty not to make certain significant decisions that pose a material risk of harm to the health and wellbeing of children in Australia.

Pollination's submission says the scope of the Bill should be expanded to include significant nature impacts.

Pollination's submission is one of a number newly released by the Senate committee inquiring into the Bill.

ARENA has awarded AGL $864,000 to support testing of a seven-day-ahead energy price forecasting tool that will help commercial and industrial companies to better match their energy demand to available supply.

Melbourne Airport, a logistics company, a major supermarket chain and a water utility are involved in the two-year pricing trial.

Chemicals company WesCEF and gas pipeline business APA Group have received $1.3 million from ARENA to examine the feasibility of producing green hydrogen and transporting it for use at the WesCEF Kwinana ammonia plant.

CSIRO and Swinburne University of Technology’s Victorian Hydrogen Hub (VH2) have launched a $2.5 million clean hydrogen refuelling station in the Melbourne suburb of Clayton, purpose-built for hydrogen research.  

📌 Issue highlight. Taking decisive action to become a nature-positive economy could boost Australia’s national income by AU$47 billion by 2050, according to a new paper from consultancy EY.

The report says current "carbon-focused" policies can drive large-scale land sector sequestration, but will deliver almost no habitat restoration, because environmental plantings are more expensive than other types of landscape-based carbon credit projects.

"We contrast this with a more balanced approach to carbon and biodiversity goals. This delivers more than seven times more native habitat at an opportunity cost of 20% less carbon in 2050, relative to the carbon-focused approach," it says.

The proposed "balanced approach" would uses a levy on all carbon sequestration to fund a top-up payment that incentivises restoration of habitat with high conservation values.

Australia has signed an MoU with Indonesia to collaborate on developing electric vehicle supply chains.

Finance Minister Katy Gallagher has asked the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Public Works to inquire into PFAS remediation at Launceston airport. Submissions are due by 9 January.

Ricky Archer is Australia's new director of National Parks, marking the first time that a First Nations person has held the post.

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.

Federal consultation opportunities:

  • A paper on the proposed sustainable finance strategy (comments due by 1 December).
  • A discussion paper that canvasses views on having an Australian Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, similar to the EU CBAM (comments due by 12 December).
  • A consultation paper for the proposed agriculture and land net-zero plan (comments due by 13 December).
  • A discussion paper on the future of the Climate Active program (comments due by 15 December).
  • A discussion paper about the proposed First Nations clean energy strategy (comments due by 31 January).
  • Draft Australian climate-focused disclosure standards released by the Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB) (comments due by 1 March).

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


A new Reef Trust Water Quality Achievements report says Reef Trust investments have stopped 140,000 tonnes of fine sediment and 550,000 kilograms of dissolved inorganic nitrogen from entering the Reef since 2014.

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

Statutory development. The state government has introduced the Energy Legislation Amendment Bill 2023, which makes changes designed to smooth the delivery of the energy transition.

The bill amends the Electricity Infrastructure Investment Act 2020, and the Energy and Utilities Administration Act 1987, but does not make major policy changes.

A parliamentary committee has recommended against passing a private members Bill (introduced by the Liberal MP for Pittwater, Rory Amon) which would have banned mining and development of offshore oil, gas, and mineral resources in NSW.

The report concludes elements of the Bill could be constitutionally invalid or have unintended consequences.

Consultation opportunity. Comments are due by 18 December on a draft Energy Policy Framework that updates guidelines for benefit sharing, and for wind, solar, and transmission infrastructure.

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

The ACT government is now accepting registrations from owners corporations to participate in the Solar for Apartments program, which is co-funded by the federal and Territory governments. The program provides owners corporations with grants of up to $100,000 and access to zero-interest loans.

Landfill gas capture at the Mugga Lane landfill will be expanded, involving two additional 1MW generators, and an additional 12MW of battery storage.


Winners in the Premier's sustainability awards include ecologiQ (which integrates recycled-content materials into Victoria's Big Build), Kinetic (operator of bus services including Skybus), UPPAREL (a textile recovery and recycling company), and Geelong Sustainability (for its Climate Safe Rooms program).

Consultation opportunities:

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.

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. Comments are due by 19 December on a draft emissions reduction and resilience plan for the state's waste sector, which focuses mainly on the need to reduce the landfill disposal of organic waste.

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

Western Australia

A total of 18 local governments, servicing more than 200,000 households, have now rolled out three-bin kerbside collections that include a Food Organics Garden Organics (FOGO) service. Waste recovery through FOGO has increased from 11,000 tonnes in 2017, to more than 65,000 tonnes last year. 

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

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 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
Victoria's Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action has a vacancy for a senior policy officer, mine rehabilitation, and a senior project officer, abandoned and legacy mines and quarries.
Finity Consulting is recruiting a Sydney-based climate and perils risk consultant.
Ironbark Sustainability is hiring a Sydney-based project officer - climate program.
Newcastle Greater Mutual Group has a vacancy for a sustainability coordinator.
Niche Environment and Heritage is seeking a Sydney-based natural capital offset supply associate.
Sydney Water is hiring a senior sustainability advisor.
V-Line is recruiting a Melbourne-based environment and sustainability advisor.
Company news and resources
AGL has increased its renewables and firming pipeline by 60%, from 3.2GW to 5.3GW since February this year, chair Patricia McKenzie told the company's annual general meeting.
In its latest sustainability report, GrainCorp says its new Board Sustainability Committee has focused on issues including the company's readiness for the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) standards, climate change risk, and associated directors’ duties.

In June, GrainCorp formally committed to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), and it aims to have no deforestation across its primary deforestation-linked commodities by the end of 2025.
Santos and gas pipeline company APA Group are to cooperate on the development of infrastructure to transfer CO2 from Gladstone, Sydney and Port Bonython to Moomba for sequestration, under the terms of a new MoU.

Santos is also partnering with Japan’s largest gas utility company, Tokyo Gas, to investigate the potential for producing carbon-neutral e-methane in Australia, produced by combining green hydrogen and captured CO2. The methane can be used as a substitute for fossil gas.

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