ESG Snapshot: Issue 24

ESG Snapshot: Issue 24

Highlights include:

  • Off-track on waste. Waste targets won't be met, and that has ramifications for how we predict landfill methane emissions, says a report to DCCEEW.
  • Nature market good to go. Australia will have a legislatively-backed market for trading biodiversity certificates, but they can't be used for offsetting.
  • Waste to energy plant approved. Victoria's EPA has approved a new facility that will accept 400,000 tonnes of residual waste annually.
  • Company news. Nufarm has delivered its first shipment of low-carbon oil, for refining into sustainable aviation fuel, and Downer has refinanced a sustainability-linked loan facility.

Plus NSW's latest biodiversity credits reverse auction has resulted in contracts for credits worth $33.3 million, SA is consulting on a new biodiversity law, and the WA government has teamed with Chevron on a low-carbon grant scheme.

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Some key updates from the COP28 climate talks:

  • An International Energy Agency analysis of pledges on renewables, energy efficiency and methane made by many countries attending COP28 will have a significant impact, but still represent only 30% of the emissions gap that needs to be bridged to get the world on a 1.5 degree-aligned pathway.
  • Singapore has signed an implementation agreement on carbon credits collaboration with PNG, providing a framework for credit transfers that aligns with Paris Agreement requirements.
  • A new independent sustainable aviation fuel certificate (SAFc) registry has been launched at COP28, to connect corporate consumers, airlines, freight forwarders, and clean fuel producers.
  • The United Nations Development Programme has launched a new initiative at COP28 to support developing countries’ access to carbon markets.
  • Eight export credit agencies that in 2022 supported US$120 billion in global trade have partnered with organisations including the UN Environment Programme to launch the Net-Zero Export Credit Agencies Alliance.
  • CSIRO and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program have signed an MoU committing to a five-year partnership to co-design and co-deliver Pacific research climate and environmental programs.
  • Australia will rejoin and contribute $50 million to the Green Climate Fund, and has also signed up to the Statement on International Public Support for the Clean Energy Transition Partnership (CETP).
  • "Those of us with massive renewable potential must share it – hence Australia's determination to become a global renewable energy superpower," Minister Chris Bowen said in his official COP speech on the weekend.
  • The Asian Development Bank has launched a Nature Solutions Finance Hub for Asia and the Pacific at COP28 which aims to attract at least US$2 billion into investment programs that incorporate nature-based solutions.

The international Science-Based Targets initiative is calling for companies and financial institutions in the buildings value chain to pilot its Buildings Science-Based Target-Setting guidance and tools.

📌 Issue highlight and statutory development. Parliament has passed the Nature Repair Market Bill, which creates a trading regime for biodiversity certificates.

The Bill passed after the government agreed to Greens amendments that prevent the certificates being used for biodiversity offsetting purposes.

The Greens also secured a commitment from the government to broaden the EPBC water trigger before the end of the year so that it covers all types of gas projects, not just coal seam gas.

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has established a new advisory Nature Finance Council to encourage business investment in nature repair, which is chaired by former Treasury Secretary Ken Henry.

Other members include Anna Skarbek (Climateworks CEO), David Jenkins (NAB's global head of sustainable finance), David Thodey (former Telstra CEO), Dr Jody Gunn (CEO, Australian Land Conservation Alliance), Elizabeth O’Leary (Macquarie Asset Management's global chair of agriculture and natural assets), and Ian Hamm (chair of the Board of the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation).

The council will advise on increasing investment into benefits for nature, and positioning Australia as a global leader in nature finance.

Existing federal and state waste reduction and resource recovery targets are nearly all unlikely to be met, says a new report by consultancy Blue Environment, newly released by DCCEEW.

Goals that are unlikely to be attained include the existing national target for 2030 of 80% resource recovery, the report notes.

The main purpose of the report was to develop new emissions projections for the waste sector, and it recommends that estimates of future landfill emissions shouldn't be based on the assumption that existing waste targets will be achieved.

A new Green Bond Framework released by the Australian Financial Management Office outlines how green bonds will be used to finance eligible green expenditure.

The Framework is aligned to the International Capital Market Association (ICMA) Green Bond Principles. The federal government's first issue of green bonds is expected to occur in mid-2024.

Only 170MW of large-scale renewable energy generation reached Final Investment Decision in the September 2023 quarter, says the latest quarterly carbon market report from the Clean Energy Regulator.

However, the Regulator approved newly-completed large-scale generators with a joint capacity of 608MW to earn large-scale generation certificates (LGCs) in the September quarter, and the annual total capacity approved to earn LGCs in 2023 is likely to be about 2.5GW, it says.

The generic spot price for Australian Carbon Credit Units traded between $30.50 and $32.00 for much of the September quarter, the report says.

A quarterly record of 813MW of rooftop solar was installed in the September quarter.

The proponents of a proposed Nature Positive Economy CRC have welcomed two carbon project developers, Climate Friendly and Regenco, as core partners. The bid team's associate partners include WWF and Accounting for Nature.

Parliament's Joint Committee on Treaties has launched an inquiry into whether Australia should ratify the Second Protocol to Amend the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA). The Protocol contains a chapter on Trade and Sustainable Development (Chapter 13), which constitutes the first chapter on sustainable development issues contained in an ASEAN trade agreement.

For AANZFTA members not party to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, the Protocol contains their first trade agreement commitments on environment and labour standards.

Australia can use existing technologies to reduce emissions by 52% from 2020 levels by 2030, says a new CSIRO report on on Rapid decarbonisation pathways for Australia.

New consultation opportunity. The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry is surveying shipping operators about maritime recycling waste management arrangements, with responses due by 1 April.

New consultation opportunity. DCCEEW is seeking survey responses by 22 December on a proposed transport and infrastructure net zero roadmap and action plan.

The Cooperative Research Centre for Transformations in Mining Economies (CRC TiME) has released a report on Enabling mine closure and transitions: Opportunities for Australian industry.

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.

Open consultations:

  • 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.


Statutory development. A new waste regulation ensures all Material Recovery Facilities and glass recycling plants that accept kerbside-collected recyclables are eligible for a levy exemption for residue waste that they receive but can't recycle. Previously, the exemption only applied to MRFs that started operating before mid-2019.

Statutory development. A new Rural and Regional Adjustment (Battery Booster Rebate Scheme) Amendment Regulation establishes a Battery Booster Rebate Scheme that will provide a rebate of up to $4,000 to households that purchase an energy storage battery.

The state and federal governments are jointly providing $12 million over two years to fund the scheme, which will be sufficient to assist up to 4,000 households.

New South Wales

Former chief executive of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Anthony Lean, has been appointed Secretary of the new NSW Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water.

The most recent reverse auction conducted by the Biodiversity Credits Supply Fund received 75 bids offering more than 116,000 credits, according to an auction update.

After bid evaluation, more than 17,000 credits were accepted for purchase, worth a total of $33.3 million.

The Accounting for Nature program has accredited the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust under its Accounting for Nature Framework.    

The Trust establishes and manages conservation agreements with landholders, and the accreditation confirms it operates a robust ecological monitoring framework.

Transcript is now available of the first hearing of a new NSW parliamentary inquiry into undergrounding transmission infrastructure.

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.


EPA Victoria has granted a development licence to Prospect Hill International Pty Ltd, allowing them to build and commission a large waste-to-energy facility in Lara, north of Geelong.

The plant will be one of the largest in Australia, processing up to 400,000 tonnes of residual municipal solid waste and commercial and industrial waste annually, sourced from metropolitan Melbourne, Geelong, and the southwest coast.

It will have the capacity to generate 35MW of electricity.

Consultation opportunities:

Consultation opportunities:

  • 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 (comments due by 19 December).
  • A discussion paper on overhauling Tasmania's threatened species strategy (comments due 22 December).

Consultation opportunity and statutory development. Comments are due by 14 February on a discussion paper on the state government's proposed introduction of a new Biodiversity Act.

Western Australia

Minister Reece Whitby will add energy to his existing portfolio responsibilities of climate action and the environment, following a decision by Bill Johnston, former Minister for Mines, Petroleum, Energy and Hydrogen, to leave state Parliament.

The Cabinet reshuffle will see Premier Roger Cook take on responsibility for the hydrogen, as part of his State and Industry Development, Jobs and Trade portfolio. 

Responsibility for mines and petroleum will move to David Michael, adding to his existing responsibilities for WA's ports.

The state government and Chevron have jointly established a $40 million Lower Carbon Grants Program, and in tandem will establish a $4 million GreenTech Hub to accelerate green technologies and services.

The Gorgon joint venture is providing the $40 million for the grant scheme, which will fund "large, transformational research and innovation activity".

The state government is currently inviting expressions of interest to administer the GreenTechHub.

The state government is backing a $1.86 million project to develop climate resilience among Traditional Owners in the West Kimberley. The three year project will be jointly coordinated by the Nulungu Institute Research and the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation. 

New consultation opportunity and statutory development. The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation is seeking comment by 5 February on draft regulations to implement the federal Industrial Chemicals Environmental Management Standard (IChEMS) in Western Australia.

Northern Territory

The EPA has released its assessment of the Darwin Pipeline Duplication proposed by Santos, which is a component of the company's plans to develop the Barossa gas field.

The EPA concludes the 100 kilometre-long pipeline duplication can be carried out in an acceptable manner, and has submitted a draft approval to the NT Environment Minister.

December 14, COP28 outcomes. An online webinar convened by Better Futures Australia.
February 6, WA Clean energy conference. A conference in Perth, hosted by the Clean Energy Council.
February 13 and 14, The Australian energy and battery storage conference. An event in Sydney, hosted by Informa.
February 19 and 20, Queensland energy. An Informa conference in Brisbane.
February 21 and 22, The Hunter new energy symposium , hosted by NewH2.
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.
March 6 and 7, Smart energy expo 2024. An event in Sydney hosted by the Smart Energy Council.
Jobs Board
BHP is seeking a Perth-based environmental approvals specialist.
The Clean Energy Regulator is hiring an assistant manager, compliance strategy and assurance.
The federal Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts has two vacancies for assistant directors in its net zero unit.
ERM is hiring a partner, corporate sustainability and climate change, based in Melbourne.
The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has two vacancies for senior advisors in the Industry, Infrastructure and Environment Division, and is also establishing a Net Zero Economy Agency talent pool.
Umwelt is hiring a Brisbane-based principal ecologist, with a biodiversity offsets focus.
Company news and resources
Downer Group has successfully completed the refinancing of $500 million of its $1.4 billion syndicated sustainability linked loan facility.

The facility comprises four separate tranches with different maturities, and the $500 million tranche had been due to mature in November 2024.

Downer has also established a new sustainability linked financing framework.
Nufarm in FY23 made its first sale of low-carbon oil produced from its proprietary Carinata non-food cover crop says Nufarm's latest sustainability report. .

The company sold the oil - which can be refined into sustainable aviation fuel - to BP under the terms of a 10-year agreement.

Nufarm also finalised a power purchase agreement (PPA) strategy for its Laverton (Melbourne) and aims to establish the PPA in FY24. 

Nufarm's report also notes that a UN study concluded that climate change will further drive the expansion of invasive species, which have played a key role in 60% of recorded plant and animal extinctions costing an estimated US$423 billion every year.

"As these invasive species grow, the need for crop protection and seed innovation becomes even more critical to protect crops and reduce crop and food loss," the report says.
Danish energy company Orsted has secured approval from the Korean government for a 1.6 GW offshore wind project, located 70 km off the coast of Incheon City. 
RWE Renewables Australia has announced details of a Community Benefit Fund for the proposed 1,000MW Campbells Bridge wind farm in Victoria's Wimmera region.

The company says it would contribute about $3.2 million annually to the Fund, if the project proceeds.
Australian concentrated solar power company Vast Renewables has announced that EDF Australia will partner with it to develop CSP projects in Australia, with EDF pledging 10 million Euros to their joint commercialisation efforts.

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