ESG Snapshot: Issue 33

ESG Snapshot: Issue 33

Highlights in this week's issue include:

  • New CCS law. Debate has started in the WA Parliament on a proposed new statutory framework for CCS projects.
  • Relocation policy on the way. NSW will develop a managed relocation policy by mid-2025.
  • The $3.2 billion exit. It will cost billions to decommission onshore all WA's offshore fossil infrastructure, says a new study.
  • New biodiversity credits auction. Bids are now being accepted under the latest NSW biodiversity credits reverse auction.
  • Open letter. With an election only six months away, the NT government is under pressure to commit to drafting a new Biodiversity Conservation Act.
  • New waste-to-energy project. Cleanaway has proposed a waste-to-energy plant that would annually process up to 380,000 tonnes of residual waste.

Interested in a Chief Data Officer role with a strong net-zero focus, or in senior biodiversity roles, or in working for Origin Energy or GreenCollar? Check out this issue's jobs board!


The Clean Energy Regulator says it will "administer both the Nature Repair Market and the ACCU Scheme to support alignment between carbon and biodiversity markets".

"Where possible, the Regulator will use its experience to create synergies and streamline processes to make it easier for landholders to participate in both schemes," it says.

The Regulator will be responsible for administering the scheme, and its duties will include:

  • assessing applications to register, vary or cancel projects.
  • ​​​issuing biodiversity certificates.
  • performing ongoing assurance, monitoring and compliance activities.
  • maintaining the public register of biodiversity projects and certificates.

CSIRO and Standards Australia have launched a new resource called HyStandards "to help the growing hydrogen industry find the relevant Australian and international standards for their hydrogen projects".  

Australia is expected to become the second largest net-exporter of low-emissions hydrogen by 2030 and the largest by 2050, according to CSIRO. 

Transcript of a Senate committee's first public hearing into Senator David Pocock's "intergenerational equity" climate Bill will be available here shortly.

The federal government has granted EPBC approval for the 1.5GW Yanco Delta wind farm in NSW, to be built in the NSW Riverina.

The federal government has released an interim National Action List for offshore CO2 sequestration. The list will be used as a screening tool for sequestration sites.

The government says the list is required to comply with provisions of the Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution.

Grant opportunity - energy efficiency. Small and medium businesses can apply from this week for energy efficiency grants valued at between $10,000 and $25,000. Applications close on 8 April.

Grant opportunity - innovation. The Business Research and Innovation Initiative (BRII) has opened a new $7.5 million funding round for small and medium enterprises targeting three key challenge areas:

  • Increasing the energy efficiency of commercial fishing operations.
  • Powering safe drinking water for First Nations remote communities.
  • Providing low-carbon packaging for premium Australian wine.

Successful applicants will receive grants of up to $100,000 to develop and test their ideas over three months. The most successful of these ideas may be eligible for a further grant of up to $1 million to develop a prototype or proof of concept.

Applications close on 3 April.

The Clean Energy Council and KPMG have released a guide titled Leading Principles: First Nations and Renewable Energy Projects .

Open consultations:

  • Fuel efficiency. The government plans to legislate a New Vehicle Efficiency Standard, which will impose a gradually strengthening limit on CO2 emitted per kilometre by new vehicles sold in Australia. Comments are due by 4 March.

A new Queensland Battery Industry Strategy says the industry has the potential to generate up to $1.3 billion of economic activity and 9,100 jobs by 2030.

The strategy is targeting investment totalling $570 million over the next five years, comprising new and existing funding.

Queensland Hydro, which was established by the state government to develop pumped hydro projects, has released a draft $50 million community benefits framework. Comments are due by 26 April.

Grant opportunity - Reef water quality and natural capital. The state government is offering a total of $5.5 million for projects aimed at improving water quality in reef catchments. Individual grants of up to $2.5 million, or possibly more, will be considered. Applications close on 30 April.

An additional notional allocation of up to $750,000 is potentially available for applications that demonstrate a capacity to undertake natural capital projects.

Grant opportunity - low emissions. The state government is inviting expressions of interest from metallurgical coal mines for grants under its Low Emissions Investment Partnerships program.

New South Wales

The cost of building and infrastructure damage from natural disasters could almost triple by 2060, without mitigation action, according to the NSW Reconstruction Authority's inaugural State Disaster Mitigation Plan.

The plan reveals the cost of building and infrastructure damage from natural disasters could hit $9.1 billion per year by 2060, without mitigation, up from the current level of about $3.1 billion.

Population growth and climate change are the main drivers of the potential cost increase.

The plan proposes the development by mid-2025 of a State policy for large-scale multi-hazard managed relocation, "drawing on the experience of the Northern Rivers and other jurisdictions".

There are two forms of managed relocation, the plan notes - buy-back schemes in which the property owner is responsible for finding a new location, and community relocation, where people are resettled in an alternative location.

Bids are now being accepted under the Biodiversity Credits Supply Fund's latest reverse auction round. Bidding closes on 6 March.

Transcript of a 16 February parliamentary committee hearing into under grounding transmission infrastructure is now available.

The NSW DCCEEW has released guidance for local government on undertaking a critical review of a Biodiversity Development Assessment Report.

Open consultations - better use of Crown Land. The state government is seeking views by 19 March on potential reforms to the Crown Land Management Act.

The 2024 Community Zero Emissions Grants program is now open for applications from individuals and not-for-profit community groups. Funding of up to $50,000 per single application and up to $75,000 per joint application is available, and applications close on 4 April.

Grant opportunity. The ACT government is inviting applications by 9 April for environmental grants, with $350,000 available. The government is also offering 'Nature in the City: Cooling your Suburb' grants, with $150,000 available.

The ACT government is consulting on a new draft disaster resilience strategy (comments due by 13 March), and a new drought resilience plan (comments due by 14 March).


Consultation opportunity - waste-to-energy. Cleanaway has applied to the EPA for a development licence to establish a waste-to-energy facility at Wollert.

The facility would annually process up to 380,000 tonnes of residual municipal and commercial waste, which would otherwise have gone to landfill. It would generate about 46.3MW of electricity, with 4.7MW used to power the facility, and the remainder exported to the grid.

Waste ash would be treated at the facility for use as an alternative construction product, and metals will be recovered from the ash for recycling.

 Comments close on 20 March.

Consultation opportunity - ban on high-pressure sales of energy efficiency products. The state government has released a Regulatory Impact Statement and proposed regulations to ban telemarketing and door-to-door sales under the Victorian Energy Upgrades program. Submissions are due by 18 March.

 The state government will establish an independent review into how energy distribution companies responded to the February 2024 storms.

On February 13, Victoria experienced a catastrophic storm event that caused power outages that impacted more than 500,000 homes and businesses.

Subsidy opportunity - solar for apartments. Applications close 15 April under round one of Solar Victoria's new Solar for Apartments program, which is partly funded by the federal government.

Grant program - tree plantings. Grants of up to $2,500 per hectare will be provided by state government-owned Private Forests Tasmania to support tree plantings by Tasmanian farmers. Expressions of interest close on 1 March.

Statutory development - waste and recycling. The state government will shortly release a draft Bill that would ban councils from introducing weight-based kerbside waste fees, and would also prevent them from charging households additional fees for kerbside general waste pick-ups.

Councils would be required to continue to provide separate general waste, recycling and FOGO kerbside collections, and the subsequent mingling of kerbside-separated streams would be banned.

Councils will also be required to report to the state government on their diversion and recycling performance.

The Australian Land Conservation Alliance has released its submission on state government plans to introduce a Biodiversity Act.

Western Australia

Statutory development - CCS. Debate is under way in the Legislative Assembly on the Petroleum Legislation Amendment Bill.

The Bill provide a legislative framework for the transport and geosequestration of greenhouse gas, and enable the exploration for naturally occurring hydrogen.

Consultation opportunity - offshore wind zone. The federal government is seeking comments by 3 May on a proposal to declare an offshore wind development zone 20 kilometres offshore from Bunbury.

This is the sixth region to be considered as potentially suitable for future large-scale offshore wind projects in Australia.

There is a significant decommissioning liability of about US$2.1 billion ($3.2 billion) associated with the onshore disposal of offshore oil and gas assets in close proximity to WA ports, according to a new study.

However, the intermittent demand profile does not justify the establishment of a complete greenfield site for this sole purpose, says the study prepared for the Centre of Decommissioning Australia.

The onshore decommissioning 'solution' in WA will likely involve multiple facilities to contribute to the disposal of the offshore assets and may service different parts of the market, it concludes.

It also points out there is considerable overlap in the requirements for onshore dismantling hubs, and offshore wind staging and decommissioning sites.

"Further development of concepts for each should be collaborative and consider interchangeable requirements for a dual use facility," it says.

The federal government has confirmed it will provide $70 million to help establish the Pilbara hydrogen hub, matching an identical commitment made by the WA government in late 2021.

The project will establish a hydrogen and/or ammonia pipeline between the Maitland and Burrup Strategic Industrial areas, a Clean Energy Training and Research Institute to develop the required skills for the emerging industry, and port upgrades to enable the import of renewable energy generation equipment. 

The hub has the potential to become an export gateway for Australian-made green steel and iron, according to the federal government. The initial focus will be on developing common-user infrastructure.

Grant opportunity - e-waste. Applications must be submitted by 29 March for e-waste re-processing infrastructure grants, with grants of up to $2 million on offer.

Northern Territory

Environment groups including the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Wilderness Society, along with biodiversity scientists, have written an open letter to Environment Minister Eva Lawler, urging the introduction of a new Biodiversity Conservation Act in the Territory.

A company has lodged an EPBC referral for a blue carbon project in the Northern Territory, which will be used as a research pilot for proposed other projects in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Verity Nature Pty Ltd's project will follow requirements of the international VERRA method for restoring tidal wetland and seagrass.

Verity Nature was founded by Duncan Van Der Merwe, a former managing director of Tellus Holdings Pty Ltd, and scientist Richard Phillips.

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

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February 26 (today). The ESG Quarter. A one-hour webinar hosted by BCSDA, featuring Ilona Millar (Gilbert + Tobin), Tim Buckley (Climate Energy Finance), and Karen McWilliams (Chartered Accountants ANZ).
February 27, Embracing flexibility to reduce business energy costs. A webinar hosted by A2EP.
February 28, Modern slavery: from legislation to action. A breakfast event hosted by Ethixbase360.
March 6, High-temperature heat pumps update. A webinar hosted by A2EP.
March 6 and 7, Smart energy expo 2024. An event in Sydney hosted by the Smart Energy Council.
March 20, Climate investor forum 2024. An event in Melbourne, hosted by Zeitgeist.
April 22 and 23, Impact X summit - climate and nature 2030. An event in Sydney supported by the NSW government, WWF and Impact X.
May 29 and 30, Fourth annual Australian renewable energy zones conference. An event in Sydney, hosted by Informa.
June 5 and 6, Tasmanian energy development conference. An event in Devonport, hosted by Informa.
Jobs Board
Business Chamber Queensland is hiring a business sustainability manager.
The City of Newcastle is hiring a project lead - climate and sustainability.
Victoria's Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action is recruiting a director of biodiversity programs and partnerships and a director of biodiversity policy and strategy.
The federal Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts is hiring a Chief Data Officer who will also serve as First Assistant Secretary, Data, Research, Strategy and Net Zero.
The NSW EPA has a vacancy for a unit head - policy.
Gladstone City Council is seeking a climate change project officer.
GreenCollar is hiring a head of NaturePlus.
The High Speed Rail Authority has a vacancy for a general manager, safety, environment and sustainability.
Origin Energy is hiring a sustainability analyst.
Company news and resources
Google has pledged to provide key cloud and mapping services that will speed the processing, accessing and visualising of data from a new international satellite that will monitor methane emissions.

MethaneSAT is being launched this year to monitor methane emissions from oil and gas facilities around the world.
Maersk has become the first shipping company to have its emissions targets validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) in line with a 1.5-degree pathway.
Rio Tinto has signed Australia’s largest renewable power purchase agreement, to supply its Gladstone operations in Queensland, agreeing to buy 80% of the electricity from Windlab's planned 1.4GW Bungaban wind energy project. The agreement, which follows the announcement last month of a PPA for the Upper Calliope solar farm in Queensland, will make Rio Tinto the biggest industrial buyer of renewable power in Australia.

From 2026, flights departing from Singapore will be required to use 1% sustainable aviation fuel, with the aim of raising the target to as much as 5% by 2030, depending on global developments and SAF availability.

The sixth session of the UN Environment Assembly - which is the world's top decision-making body on the environment - will take place in Nairobi from 26 February to 1 March.

The European Parliament and the European Council have reached a provisional agreement on the first EU-wide voluntary framework for the certification of high-quality carbon removals. The agreement sets out certification rules for:

  • Carbon farming, such as restoring forests and soils and avoiding soil emissions, rewetting of peatlands, more efficient use of fertilizers, and other innovative farming practices;
  • Industrial carbon removals, such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, or direct air carbon capture and storage;
  • Binding carbon in long-lasting products and materials, such as wood-based construction materials or biochar.

England has become the first government in the world to require all major developers to deliver a Biodiversity Net Gain on their residential developments and commercial and industrial projects. Developers must deliver at least a 10% benefit for nature.

Australian news items in all issues of ESG Snapshot can be searched by relevant Sustainable Development Goal category. To do this, click on the '17 SDGs' link at the top of this web page, or on any of the SDG keys below.

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