ESG Snapshot: Issue 29

ESG Snapshot: Issue 29

Highlights in this week's issue include:

  • Beyond hydrogen. NSW is considering a wider scope for a certificate scheme that will initially only target green hydrogen.
  • Renewables Bill. A Queensland parliamentary committee is holding hearings on the government's renewables Bill.
  • Streamlined approvals. Tasmania will implement a new assessment pathway for renewable energy projects.
  • No land tax. The Victorian government is now exempting conservation covenant sites from land tax.

Interested in a responsible procurement role, or in one of NSW's most senior government climate and sustainability roles, or in working for Commbank, Energetics, or the Latrobe Valley Authority? Check out this issue's jobs board!


The Climate Change Authority has released submissions made in response to its NGER survey, and in response to its discussion paper on modelling Australia's emissions reductions pathways.

Federal Resources Minister Madeleine King and WA Mines Minister David Michael last week met with nickel and lithium producers to discuss challenges facing the industry, as well as possible government responses. 

The meetings discussed how to secure market advantage for Australian nickel and lithium, given the ESG credentials of Australian production processes.

Grant opportunity - reducing livestock emissions. Applications will open on 7 February for grants of between $1 million and $3 million for projects to reduce methane emissions from livestock. A total of $9 million is available, and applications must be submitted by 20 March.

Record generation from grid-scale renewables and rooftop solar is triggering a fall in wholesale energy prices and greenhouse gas emissions, according to AEMO's latest  Quarterly Energy Dynamics report.

The increase in renewable energy generation meant that the National Electricity Market also recorded it's lowest carbon intensity on record at 0.59tCO2/MWh.

AEMO chief executive Daniel Westerman noted that rooftop solar met 101% of South Australia's total electricity demand early in the afternoon of 31 December last year.

"On the afternoon of 24 October rooftop solar and grid-scale renewables provided 72% of all electricity across the east coast," Westerman added. 

Australia's Heads of EPAs (HEPA), which comprises heads of federal, state and territory environment agencies, have released the Container deposit scheme (CDS) behaviour change – national research report summary, and will use its findings to optimise and align container deposit schemes across Australia and New Zealand.

Eco-Markets Australia, which administers the Reef Credits scheme, as well as the Australian Land Conservation Alliance (ALCA), have both become partners in the proposed Nature Positive Economy CRC.

NAB and Microsoft have released a cyber assessment tool for small business.

Open consultations:

  • Mandatory climate risk disclosure. Comments are due by 9 February on a draft Bill on climate-related financial disclosure that would phase in requirements for companies, super funds, and NGER reporters to prepare annual climate statements.
  • Offshore projects. The federal government is canvassing views on consultation requirements for assessing offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas storage activities. Submissions close on 23 February.

A state Parliamentary inquiry into the government's Energy (Renewable Transformation and Jobs) Bill is currently holding public hearings.

The state government has provided grants to Ipswich City Council ($9 million) and the City of Moreton Bay ($9.6 million) to fund a roll-out of kerbside food and garden organics (FOGO) collections.

Grant opportunity - recycling. The state government has launched a $10 million ReMade in Queensland (ReMiQ) funding round, which will help small and medium-sized manufacturers and recyclers to adopt processes that reuse materials that are otherwise destined for landfill.

Applicants can submit an Expression of Interest for grants of between $50,000 and $2.5 million, with submissions due by 19 February.

Open consultations:

New South Wales

The state government is investigating options to expand its Renewable Fuel Scheme (RFS) beyond hydrogen, to include additional renewable fuels and liable parties, and will consult on options in mid-2204.

In its current form, the RFS sets a target for green hydrogen production, starting from 2025. The annual target gradually increases to 8 million gigajoules by 2030. Liable parties under the scheme are natural gas retailers and large gas users that don't purchase gas through a retailer. 

The state government is currently consulting on the first rule for the RFS, which sets out the calculation methods and eligibility requirements to create certificates for green hydrogen production. Comments are due by 2 February.

The EPA has released guidance for projects within Special Activation Precincts that are seeking an environmental licence.

Many projects within Special Activation Precincts can follow a simplified planning approval process, and they can also follow a modified process for gaining an environmental licence.

Grant opportunity - waste. The EPA is offering grants of up to $500,000 to help groups of councils jointly procure domestic waste services.

Open consultations:

  • Plastics. Comments are due by 4 February on a discussion paper on plastics released by the EPA.

From the start of this year, the state government will exempt from land tax areas that are protected by a Trust for Nature conservation covenant.

The state government's Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre (CEBIC) has released a report on What Works for Collaboration in a Circular Economy, which provides guidance on collaboration, as well as case studies.

Melbourne Water has lodged an EPBC referral for a proposal to add six hectares of constructed wetland to an existing wetland to compensate for the loss of habitat arising from the previous development of the Eastern Treatment Plant solar farm.

Grant opportunity - women in energy. The state government is offering businesses, unions, industry groups, and not-for-profit groups grants of up to $200,000 for projects that will boost women's participation in Victoria's energy and manufacturing industries. Applications close on 20 February.

Open consultations:

  • Waste to energy. Comments are sought by 2 February on proposed regulations on Victoria's thermal waste-to-energy cap licensing system.

The state government will streamline the approvals process for new renewable energy projects, through a new Renewable Energy Approvals Pathway (REAP).

Components of the REAP will include establishing a Major Renewable Energy Project case management team within government.

In addition, Tasmania will establish assessment protocols in conjunction with the federal government, to prevent delays and the provision of inconsistent advice.

It will also establish a guideline on community benefit schemes specific to Tasmania.

Grant opportunity - methane. The state government is inviting applications by 29 February for grants to support trials of methane-reducing animal feed supplements. A total of $4 million is on offer.

The state government has started a trial landfill levy rebate program to help councils cover the costs of disposing of dumped waste. The trial will run until mid-2025.

Open consultations:

  • Environmental impact assessment. The state government is consulting on environmental impact assessment processes for projects on reserves managed by the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service. Comments are due by 8 March.

Grant opportunity - circular economy. Green Industries SA is offering grants of up to $100,000 for projects that design, apply and scale-up innovative circular economy business models and practices, or that produce, manufacture, sell or promote South Australian recycled materials and/or recycled-content products.

Applications close on 19 February.

Open consultations:

  • Plastics. Comments are due by 11 February on proposals to ban more types of single-use plastic items.
  • Biodiversity. Comments are due by 14 February on a discussion paper on the state government's proposed introduction of a new Biodiversity Act.
Western Australia

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development will run regional carbon farming workshops between February and April.

The state government has released an updated guide to climate science resources for Western Australia.

Events, jobs, company news, and key international developments are listed below.

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February 5, ANU Climate update. An online event.
February 6, WA Clean energy conference. A conference in Perth, hosted by the Clean Energy Council.
February 8, Circular economy masterclass. An online event hosted by the Green Building Council of Australia.
February 13 and 14, The Australian energy and battery storage conference. An event in Sydney, hosted by Informa.
February 14 to 16, Sustainable industrial manufacturing. An event in Brisbane, hosted by Quartz Business Media.
February 15, Mastering marketing automation. A one-hour webinar hosted by BCSDA member Swift Digital.
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.
April 22 and 23, Impact X summit - climate and nature 2030. An event in Sydney supported by the NSW government, WWF and Impact X.
Jobs Board
Asahi Beverages has a Melbourne-based vacancy for a sustainability manager (responsible procurement).
The Climate Change Authority is hiring advisors and senior advisors, and the Clean Energy Regulator is hiring regulatory officers.
Commbank is recruiting an ESG audit manager.
NSW's Department of Energy, Climate Change and Sustainability is recruiting a deputy secretary.
The federal Department of Social Services is hiring an assistant director, APS net zero, to develop an emissions reduction plan for the department to achieve net-zero by 2030.
Energetics has vacancies for graduate climate and energy consultants.
The Latrobe Valley Authority has a vacancy for a senior program officer - energy.
Victoria's Eastern Health service is seeking a sustainability coordinator.

Company news and resources
Private equity firm Raw Capital Partners and global energy storage investor BW ESS have jointly established Valent Energy, an investment platform with more than 1.6GW of utility battery projects under development in Australia.

Valent Energy is chaired by Oliver Yates, the inaugural head of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
Rio Tinto has agreed to buy all electricity from the 1.1GW Upper Calliope solar farm, to provide power for its Gladstone operations.

Rio Tinto has three Gladstone assets - the Boyne aluminium smelter, the Yarwun alumina refinery, and the Queensland Alumina refinery.

Rio Tinto has signed a 25 year Power Purchase Agreement for electricity from the proposed Upper Calliope solar farm, and the deal has the potential to lower Rio Tinto's operating emissions by 1.8 million tonnes annually.

Subject to approvals, European Energy Australia expects to start construction of its Upper Calliope solar farm by no later 2026, with construction expected to take two years.

Friends of the Earth Netherlands is suing ING - which is the biggest bank in the Netherlands - alleging that it has done too little to cut its own emissions and the emissions of those that use its financial services.

The international Circle Economy Foundation has released its latest annual Circularity Gap report.

The International Energy Agency has released its latest annual report on electricity, which forecasts that renewables are set to make up more than one-third of total electricity generation by early 2025, overtaking coal. 

The Global Reporting Initiative has released an updated version of its Biodiversity Standard.

The Transition Plan Taskforce, established two years ago by the UK government to establish an international "gold standard" for company transition plans, has had its mandate extended, partly due to the UK government's Transition Finance Market Review.

A new report by Lord Nicholas Stern and other experts at the London School of Economics and Cambridge University has concluded the UK government should boost annual public investment in tackling climate change, biodiversity loss and environmental degradation by the equivalent of about 1% of GDP, or £26 billion at current prices.

US climate envoy John Kerry will reportedly step down from the role in the next few months, to assist with President Joe Biden's re-election campaign. Meanwhile, China's climate envoy Xie Zhenhua Chinese resigned earlier this month, and will be replaced by foreign ministry diplomat Liu Zhenmin.

A total of 45 non-fossil kerosene projects have been proposed in the EU, and if they all proceed they would deliver sufficient supply of green fuels to meet the EU's law on sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs), according to a new study

The 25 industrial projects identified in the study by NGO Transport and Environment aim to produce a cumulative 1.7 million tonnes of e-kerosene by 2030, which would go well beyond the 600,000 tonnes mandated by the EU's law on sustainable aviation fuels, called ReFuelEU.

However, none of the projects have achieved final investment decision, the study notes.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development has released circular transition indicators for the fashion and textile industry.

BNEF has released a briefing on 10 things to watch in global carbon markets in 2024, Ecosystems Marketplace has a blog post on Verra's new REDD methodology for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and carbon credits ratings agency Sylvera has issued a white paper on the convergence of voluntary and compliance carbon markets.

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