ESG Snapshot: Issue 23

ESG Snapshot: Issue 23

Highlights include:

  • Four climate bills. Two climate bills are before the WA Parliament, Victoria has introduced one, and a key Bill has passed in NSW.
  • Bipartisan. A new House of Representatives report shows bipartisan support for rapidly introducing production incentives to support the net-zero transition.
  • Modern slavery. The federal government has introduced a new Bill, and the ACT has extended its protections.
  • Climate club. Australia has joined a new high-ambition industrial decarbonisation forum. Plus other COP28 news.
  • State of the Environment. Victoria's latest SoE report identifies some worrying trends.

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Some key updates from the COP28 climate talks in Dubai, UAE:

  • Australia is one of 31 founding member countries of a new Climate Club convened to support ambitious decarbonisation by industry, with an initial focus on steel and cement. The OECD and IEA will host its interim secretariat.
  • Australia has joined more than 100 countries in committing to triple global renewable energy generation capacity and double global average annual energy efficiency improvements by 2030.
  • Australia is one of more than 120 signatories to the UAE Declaration on Climate and Health, and has also signed the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action.
  • A new open-access global repository of company-level greenhouse gas emissions data has been launched in a proof-of-concept phase, with data from 382 companies. The Net-Zero Data Public Utility is backed by France and Bloomberg Philanthropies. Meanwhile, UNEP has released a report on the "imminent data revolution" in monitoring methane emissions.
  • A new Loss and Damage Fund that will help vulnerable, developing countries deal with the impacts of climate change has become operational, with the biggest contributions coming from the UAE and Germany ($100 million each).
  • The US has become one of the latest countries to join the international Powering Past Coal Alliance.
  • The UAE has announced a US$30 billion commitment to a new private investment vehicle, ALTÉRRA, which will improve developing country access to climate finance. COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber will chair ALTÉRRA's board.
  • The World Business Council for Sustainable Development has released at COP28 a CEO guide on aligning capital allocation with decarbonisation efforts, and has also listed its priorities for COP28.
  • COP28 briefings are also available from international news services including Climate Home News and Carbon Brief. A video of the opening address by COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber is available here. A summary of US COP28 announcements is here.

The latest annual State of the Voluntary Carbon Market report from Ecosystem Marketplace shows a market-wide shift in demand towards high-integrity, high-quality carbon credits that have co-benefits beyond the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.  

The International Energy Agency has released a policy toolkit to commercialise carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) projects. 

📌 Issue highlight. The government has released the latest annual climate change statement, along with annual progress advice from the Climate Change Authority, Australia's latest emissions projections, and the latest national greenhouse gas inventory quarterly update.

The documents show emissions are projected to be 42% below 2005 levels by 2030, based on announced policies - just shy of the government's 43% reduction target.

The impact of investments through the National Reconstruction Fund, Hydrogen Headstart, and some streams of the Powering the Regions Fund are not yet included, and could deliver additional emissions reductions. 

The Climate Change Authority advice - which includes more than 40 recommendations - says that every percentage point we fall short of achieving 82% renewables would equate to about two million more tonnes of greenhouse gas abatement that would have to be found elsewhere in the economy, to still achieve the overall 43% reduction target.

Australia's climate has already risen on average by 1.48 degrees since 1900.

Australia’s emissions are now 24.5% below 2005 levels. Minister Chris Bowen's speech to Parliament on the annual statement is here.

📌 Issue highlight. A new House of Representatives report on advanced manufacturing unanimously finds that the introduction of production incentives to support the transition to net zero emissions "should be an immediate priority" .

These incentives could be in the form of tax rebates tied to production levels (known as production credits), or other mechanisms, says the report from the House Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Resources.

In addition, the report recommends that the federal government establish "a series of significant government-owned advanced manufacturing common-user facilities in strategic locations across Australia, to make it simpler for manufacturers to access the advanced technologies and infrastructure they need to excel in national priority areas".

The federal government's new Net Zero in Government Operations Strategy and roadmap provides for a whole-of-government approach to purchasing electricity, and sets out requirements for buildings and transport.

Low-emissions requirements will also be phased in for key procurements, including property, fleet, travel, and ICT.

Government entities will be encouraged to nominate a Chief Sustainability Officer role within their organisations to champion the strategy.

Entities must develop long-term emissions reduction plans by 30 June 2024, and must continue to annually report their emissions. The strategy aims to make the Australian Public Service (excluding Defence and security agencies) net-zero by 2030.

Statutory development. The Senate has passed the Water Amendment (Restoring our Rivers) Bill 2023, with amendments.

The federal government has published its Investment Mandate for the National Reconstruction Fund Corporation. The Corporation's seven key priorities for investment include renewable and low emission technologies, transport, and value-add in agriculture, fisheries and forestry.

Statutory development. The government has introduced the Modern Slavery Amendment (Australian Anti-Slavery Commissioner) Bill 2023, which provides for the establishment of an independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner. 

A Corporate Carbon soil carbon project in Queensland has been revoked. The project was contracted to deliver 2,225,000 ACCUs to the government.

The government has awarded two research grants - $2.05 million to CSIRO and $2.3 million to the University of Newcastle - for trials of new technology to tackle ventilation air methane from coal mines. The grants were awarded through the Methane Abatement Fund.

The Nature Conservancy, Pew Charitable Trusts, the Australian Land Conservation Alliance (ALCA) and WWF-Australia have released a report on how Australia can meet its commitment to protect 30% of its land and oceans by 2030.

The report calls for a new $5 billion fund for the purchase of high conservation value land, and more support for permanent conservation covenants on private land.

The Climate Leaders Coalition has released a new guide for CEOs on credible transitions to net zero.

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 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.


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. Parliament has passed the government's Climate Change (Net Zero Future) Bill 2023.

The new law will give statutory force to two pre-existing emissions reduction targets (a 50% reduction from 2000 levels by 2030 and net-zero by 2050). After amendments successfully introduced in the Legislative Council, it will also set a new target of a 70% reduction by 2035.

The Bill also establishes an independent Net Zero Commission to monitor, review, report on and advise on progress towards the targets, and establishes guiding principles to address climate change.

Climate change is the EPA's "single most critical challenge and priority", and the EPA Board expects the agency to use "every available regulatory tool to drive decarbonisation, a circular economy and climate change adaptation", says the Board's latest regulatory assurance statement.

The Department of Planning and Environment has released an estimate of longer-term demand for various types of biodiversity offsets in each region.

The EPA has released an environmental risk assessment and mitigation software package (E-RAMP) to assist operators of small waste facilities.

Statutory development. Parliament has passed the Biosecurity Amendment (Independent Biosecurity Commissioner) Bill 2023.

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.

A regulation to prevent new gas network connections to buildings in the ACT will commence on 8 December.

The Territory government has released its FY23 Annual Report under the Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act 2010, and the ACT Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Report for FY23. 

The Territory government has expanded its Ethical Treatment of Workers Evaluation Direction, made under the Government Procurement Act, to require more high-risk industries to consider the treatment of workers throughout their supply chains when they tender for government work.

The expansion will add agriculture, hospitality, ICT hardware, and textiles and garments procurements, expanding on the current list of cleaning, security, manufacturing, and construction procurements.


Statutory development. The government has introduced the Climate Change and Energy Legislation Amendment (Renewable Energy and Storage Targets) Bill 2023, which brings forward Victoria’s long-term target for net zero greenhouse gas emissions to 2045, increases the renewable energy target for 2030 to 65%, provides a new renewable energy target of 95% for 2035, and introduces energy storage targets and offshore wind energy targets.

The Bill also requires that climate change be considered when preparing planning schemes.

Victoria's Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability has released the latest State of the Environment report.

Of the 139 indicators examined in the report, 33 are improving, 34 are stable, 60 are deteriorating, and 44 are unclear.

Responding to biodiversity decline and climate change remain major challenges for Victoria, the report says. Of the 11 climate change indicators, six are assessed as having a poor status. Of the 42 biodiversity indicators, 26 have a poor status.

The Essential Services Commission has published new rules that electricity transmission companies must follow when accessing private land in Victoria. The rules are contained in an enforceable Land Access Code of Practice that will take effect on 1 March.

Fourteen businesses will share $4.8 million in grants awarded through the Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre.

The overhauled State Electricity Commission's first investment is a $245 million stake in one of the world's biggest battery projects - the $1 billion Melbourne Renewable Energy Hub near the Melbourne suburb of Melton. The state government says the hub will be operational by 2025.

Consultation opportunities:

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.

Many of South Australia's climate indicators are in decline, according to a suite of report cards released by the state government. Themes covered by the cards include rainfall, temperature, sea level, and fire danger.

The state government has also released a climate projections viewer for South Australia.

Western Australia

Statutory development. The government has introduced the Climate Change Bill 2023, which formalises the government's net-zero by 2050 target, and requires the setting of five-yearly interim targets and budgets.  

The Bill establishes a mitigation hierarchy that entails reducing emissions as the first priority, with offsetting emissions used "only as a last resort".

The Bill will also require the development of an emissions reduction strategy and climate adaptation strategy, the development of sector adaptation plans, and annual progress reporting to Parliament.

Statutory development. The government has introduced a Petroleum Legislation Amendment Bill that establishes a legislative framework to regulate the storage and transport of greenhouse gas and natural hydrogen.

Hundreds of households in Esperance that converted their homes to all-electric will save an average of 38% on their energy bills as a result of the switch, a study has found.

Horizon Power implemented the electrification project after the private gas network supplier ceased operations in March. Horizon Power has published a Knowledge Sharing Report on the project.

The state government has rebadged its Household Energy Efficiency Scheme as Energy Ahead, and has allocated an extra $10.8 million to it. The program targets low-income households.

Northern Territory

Statutory development. Parliament has passed the Environmental Protection Legislation Amendment Bill 2023, which introduces a new licensing system for mining activities and makes other changes.

It also passed the Legacy Mines Remediation Bill 2023, which establishes a new regulatory framework for the Mining Remediation Fund.

December 14, COP28 outcomes. An online webinar convened by Better Futures Australia.
February 13 and 14, The Australian energy and battery storage conference. An Informa conference in Sydney.
February 19 and 20, Queensland energy. An Informa conference in Brisbane.
February 26 and 27, Stakeholder capitalism and ESG. A Sydney conference hosted by Kruzade Events.
February 26 and 27, Australian offshore wind conference. An Informa conference in Melbourne.
Jobs Board
BlackRock is recruiting a Sydney-based associate, sustainability compliance.
BP is recruiting a global sustainability delivery manager (circularity) to work on Castrol's carbon and plastic reduction activities.
Brighter Super has a vacancy for a Brisbane-based sustainable investment analyst.
Caritas is seeking a climate change and environmental protection lead, based in Sydney.
Victoria's Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action has a 12-month vacancy for a policy analyst - climate change, working on agriculture policy and programs.
The Local Government Association of Tasmania is seeking a manager for its local government climate capability program.
Macquarie Group is hiring a Sydney-based senior analyst, net zero and climate risk.
Ndevr Environmental has a vacancy for an environment and sustainability consultant.
Consultancy Turner & Townsend is hiring a Melbourne-based director for clean energy and decarbonisation.
Wesfarmers has a vacancy for a Perth-based head of group sustainability reporting.
Company news and resources
Fortescue has made final investment decisions to proceed with a 50MW $150 million green hydrogen project in Gladstone, and a $150 million green iron trial commercial plant at Christmas Creek in WA.

It has also decided to proceed with a US$550 million hydrogen hub project in Arizona, involving an 80MW electrolyser.
Mainstream Recycling Pty Ltd has applied for an EPA development licence to accept more waste at its Breakwater facility.
Viva Energy has received EPA Victoria approval to upgrade its Corio refinery to produce ultra-low sulphur petrol.

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