ESG Snapshot: Issue 34

ESG Snapshot: Issue 34

Highlights in this week's issue include:

  • Costing carbon in the Big Build. Business cases for public infrastructure should incorporate a NSW-style carbon cost of $123, says Infrastructure Victoria.
  • Rating clean energy providers. Climate and energy ministers have agreed to prioritise the introduction of a rating scheme for renewable energy project developers.
  • Who will pay for Marinus? Tasmanian Labor says the state shouldn't help pay for Marinus Link, but the state Liberals argue that would kill the project.
  • New grants. Queensland is offering new biofuel grants, with $4 million available.
  • New bills. SA has released a draft climate Bill, and a major electricity Bill has passed in WA.
  • Social licence. A new NT government campaign aims to bolster confidence in the regulation and sustainability performance of the resources sector.

Interested in working for the SA EPA, Melbourne Airport or AdBri? Check out this issue's jobs board! Plus a new webinar on traceability in product stewardship, and new international reports that will influence the growth of carbon markets.


Friday's meeting of the Energy and Climate Change Ministerial Council has agreed to make the development of a renewable energy developer rating scheme a priority.

The introduction of a voluntary rating scheme was recommended by the Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner, in his review of community engagement practices.

Ministers also asked senior officers to present a consumer energy resources road map to their next meeting, scheduled for July.

Consultation opportunity - clean energy. A DCCEEW discussion paper on the Capacity Investment Scheme says planned 2024 CIS tenders will include a Q2 invitation for NEM-wide bids from generation projects, with an indicative target of 6GW of renewable capacity.

This would be followed by a Q4 2024 invitation for NEM-wide bids for 4GW of renewable capacity and 3GW of dispatchable capacity. A webinar is scheduled for this Friday. Submissions are due by 25 March.

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes has released its latest annual state of weather and climate report, which notes that Australia experienced a broad range of record- breaking extremes in 2023.

The Clean Energy Regulator has published FY23 NGER data, which shows that 949 corporations reported a total of 307 million tonnes of scope 1 greenhouse gas emissions.

This represents an overall decrease in scope 1 emissions of 2.8 million tonnes compared to totals for the previous year. The decrease in emissions mainly came from the electricity generation sector.

A new submission from the Business Council of Australia backs the introduction of a "carefully targeted" Australian Cross-Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), to deal with potential carbon leakage.

The BCA also backs Australia's participation in the G7-led Climate Club initiative, and suggests the Club could help develop and align mandatory emissions product standards.

The Clean Energy Regulator has approved Solar Accreditation Australia as the new installer and designer accreditation scheme operator for the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES).

The move follows a decision by the Clean Energy Council not to re-apply as the accreditation scheme operator.

A Senate inquiry into greenwashing will hold its first public hearing on Wednesday.

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

The latestQuarterly Update of Australia's National Greenhouse Gas Inventory shows greenhouse gas emissions totalled 459.7 million tonnes in the year ending September 2023.  This is a decrease of 0.5% (2.2 Mt CO2-e) compared with the previous year.  

Emissions in the year to September 2023 were 25.4% below June 2005 levels – the base year for Australia's 2030 Paris Agreement target.

NOPSEMA has published a revised five-year Decommissioning Compliance Strategy 2024 – 2029.

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 sustainability challenge areas. Applications close on 3 April.

The federal government has released guidance for the Australian Public Service on identifying, managing, and reporting climate risks and opportunities.

The federal government has released a  Solar Consumer Guide for households and small businesses.


A State Development Area (SDA) declaration for Mackay has set aside 907 hectares of land to be rezoned to support value adding to sugarcane.

"The SDA will see the city become Queensland’s home of an emerging biocommodity industry," the state government says.

The next step will be for the Office of the Coordinator-General to draft a Development Scheme.

Grant opportunity - bioenergy. A new $4 million Bioenergy Fund is offering matched financial assistance of between $250,000 and $2 million.

The Fund will prioritise projects that advance biomass-to-electricity conversion technologies and enable growth in the biogas and biomethane sectors, like cane waste to ethanol. Applications close on 11 April.

A parliamentary committee has released its report on the Energy (Renewable Transformation and Jobs) Bill 2023, recommending that the Bill be passed. LNP members of the committee incorporated a statement of reservation into the report.

Statutory development - waste plasterboard reuse. The Department of Environment and Science is inviting comments on its decision to expand the range of end-of-waste uses of plasterboard to allow its use as a coagulant in the management of sediment basins. Comments are due by 29 March.

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

Yancoal has made an EPBC referral to develop a renewable energy hub on its Gloucester Valley land holdings, next to its Stratford coal mining complex, which will close this year. The hub would comprise a Pumped Hydro Energy Storage system and a solar farm.

The state government has gazetted new EPA Asbestos and Waste Tyres Guidelines.

In 2023, the Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure finalised assessments for 18 State Significant Development renewable energy assessments, comprising three wind farms, six solar farms and nine large-scale batteries, the state government says.

Of these, 13 were approved by the department and five were referred to the Independent Planning Commission for determination, four of which the Commission has now approved, and one is still in progress.

Bidding closes on Wednesday under the Biodiversity Credits Supply Fund's latest reverse auction round.

Consultation opportunity - koalas. The state government has released a discussion paper on its NSW Koala Strategy, ahead of a 22 March koala summit. The feedback from the discussion paper and summit will be used to develop a new koala plan. Submissions on the discussion paper are due by 26 April.

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 state government should initially adopt a carbon value of at least $123 per tonne to inform infrastructure planning and business cases, recommends a report released by Infrastructure Victoria.

This value - based on the EU emissions trading scheme price - would be consistent with the interim approach adopted by NSW in February last year, says the report on opportunities to reduce infrastructure greenhouse gas emissions .

"Valuing emissions will ensure that infrastructure project decisions account for climate change impacts alongside other costs and benefits," the report says.

The report, which makes 10 recommendations, notes that up to 70% of Australia’s annual greenhouse gas emissions relate to the lifecycle of infrastructure through operational, enabled, and embodied emissions.

The main report is backed by a separate technical report prepared by WSP. Infrastructure Victoria will host a webinar on the report on 13 March.

Consultation opportunity - clean energy jobs. The state government has issued a consultation paper on its proposed Victorian Energy Jobs Plan. Submissions are due by 3 April.

Consultation opportunity - Tesla and CEP. Tesla Energy Ventures Australia Pty Ltd has applied to the Essential Services Commission for a licence to sell electricity in Victoria. Submissions are due by 29 March.

Meanwhile, CEP Energy Retail Pty Ltd has also applied for a licence to sell electricity in Victoria, with plans to target commercial and industrial property owners. Submissions are due by 28 March.

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.

With a state election scheduled for 14 March, Labor has released an energy policy that commits it to exiting the Marinus project "to ensure it can still happen, but Tasmanians won't pay for it".

It would then invest the money saved by exiting Marinus in renewable energy generation projects, via a new government entity called Tasmanian Power Co.

However, the Liberals say Labor's approach would "pull the plug on Marinus and gut Hydro [Tasmania]".

"Only a re-elected majority Rockliff Liberal Government will save Hydro and build our renewable energy future," the Liberal party said.

Statutory development and consultation opportunity - climate change. The government has released a draft Bill to amend the state's Climate Change Act, and has also announced it will advance its renewable energy target. The Bill will:

  • update the state’s emissions reduction for 2030 and 2050.
  • require five-yearly emissions reduction targets to be set between 2030 and 2050.
  • require development of a state emissions reduction plan and a state climate risk assessment.
  • empower the Premier to nominate a public sector entity to prepare a climate change plan for an entity or sector.

The South Australian government has also advanced its renewable energy target by three years, and will now aim for its electricity to be sourced from "net 100% renewables" by 2027.

The new target will be incorporated into the version of the Bill that is introduced into state Parliament later this year. Comments on the draft Bill must be submitted by 5 April.

Five major companies - Amp Energy, Fortescue Energy, H2U, Origin Energy and Santos - have signed development agreements with the state government for the development of the Port Bonython Hydrogen Hub.

Located near Whyalla, the hub will be a common user facility for the production and export of hydrogen, and will be the state's first large-scale clean hydrogen production precinct. Both green and blue hydrogen are likely to be exported from the hub.

The GFG Alliance steelworks at Whyalla could become a major off-taker of green hydrogen from the Port Bonython hub under an agreement signed with the state government.

Santos has also separately signed its own MOU with GFG Alliance to discuss fossil gas supply and carbon capture and storage opportunities to reduce emissions from the Whyalla steelworks.

The agreement could result in GFG Alliance becoming the first domestic third-party user of the Santos carbon capture and storage project at Moomba.

Meanwhile, the state government will in June invite expressions of interest to prepare a "commercial de-risking study" for the establishment of a hydrogen-based Direct Reduction Iron (DRI) steel plant in South Australia.

The study findings will help determine the industrial precincts and supporting infrastructure required to de-risk investment in green iron and steel in the state.   

The state government aims to establish the DRI plant in South Australia before the end of the decade.  

The state government will also release a Green Iron and Steel Strategy before the end of the year.

The state government has released a wood fibre and timber industry master plan, developed by the Forest Industries Advisory Council of South Australia.

The state government has arranged a strong presence at this year's international Fuel Cell Expo in Tokyo, with a focus on its hydrogen and green iron potential.

The government says it has committed $1.2 million to increase South Australia's presence at major international hydrogen events, including the 2024 world hydrogen summit in Rotterdam.

Western Australia

Statutory development - clean energy. Parliament has passed the Electricity Industry Amendment (Distributed Energy Resources) Bill 2023, marking the first major update of the state's electricity legislation in 20 years.

The Bill introduces a new State Electricity Objective that requires electricity infrastructure decision-makers to consider the environment, including greenhouse gas emissions, as well as reliability and price.

It also streamlines and consolidates the codes, rules and regulations used to manage the state's power system and electricity market.

The Bill also establishes the regulatory framework needed to enable customer devices - such as batteries, electric vehicles, and solar panels - to be utilised to support the state's power systems.

The federal and state governments, along with the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation (MAC), have signed a Statement of Intent to guide work on an agreement on the management, protection, and conservation of Murujuga country, also known as the Burrup Peninsula and Dampier Archipelago.

The Statement of Intent outlines how government, industry and the MAC will jointly negotiate a Strategic Head Agreement for Murujuga.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation will provide $55 million to help finance Neoen's 219MW Collie Battery Stage 1 in Western Australia, marking the first time it has financed a big battery in the state.

CEFC capital is now backing more than 1,700 MW in new battery capacity across six projects Australia-wide.  

Stage 2 of the WA Plan for Plastics came into effect on 27 February 2023, which bans additional single-use disposable plastic items. The Stage 2 regulations ban the sale and supply of items and materials including coffee cups and lids, produce bags, and microbeads.

The state government has lodged a proposal with the federal government to establish a Clean Energy National Centre of Excellence in Western Australia, which would consist of a network of TAFE colleges.

The state government has also submitted an application to access funding to fast-track the development of clean energy training and workforce initiatives.

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.

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

The Territory government has launched a 'how regulators are doing right by Territorians' social licence campaign, intended to reinforce public confidence that the resources sector is properly regulated and operates in a sustainable manner.

The Territory government has released an updated guide to critical minerals in the Northern Territory.

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

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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 7, Applying traceability in product stewardship initiatives. A webinar hosted by the Product Stewardship Centre of Excellence.
March 7, Accelerating the net zero transition: clean energy in Australia and the US. An online event hosted by the ANU Institute for Climate, Energy and Disaster Solutions.
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
Adbri is seeking a Perth-based sustainability analyst.
Australian Food and Fibre has a vacancy for a Sydney-based sustainability manager.
Melbourne Airport is hiring a head of environment & sustainability.
The NSW DCCEEW is recruiting to fill the new role of climate change risk manager.
Recycling Victoria is recruiting a director, regulation and oversight.
Scentre Group has a vacancy for a Sydney-based sustainability manager.
Symal is hiring a Melbourne-based group environmental and sustainability manager.
Company news and resources
Energetics has released an Australian Sustainability Reporting Standards Readiness Assessment Tool.
Walmart says it has achieved its "project gigaton" goal of reducing, avoiding or sequestering one billion tonnes of greenhouse gas in its product value chains, six years ahead of the 2030 deadline that it set in 2017.
An activist shareholder group, the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility​ has filed a members’ statement opposing the re-election of Woodside Chair Richard Goyder at the company's upcoming AGM.

The ACCR says a vote against Goyder is warranted because the Woodside board "has been persistently unresponsive to shareholder concerns on climate risk management and is pursuing a growth strategy that is not in shareholders' interests".

The Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has released new guidance on Beyond Value Chain Mitigation, which encourages companies to invest an amount "equivalent to at least 50%" of the greenhouse gas that they still emit, despite their science-aligned reductions. These investments can be made by purchasing carbon credits, or by other means, it says.

The EU Parliament has passed a nature restoration law that requires the restoration of at least 20% of the EU's land and sea areas by 2030 and all ecosystems in need of restoration by 2050.

The law must now be adopted by the European Council.

To reach the overall EU targets, member states must restore at least 30% of habitats covered by the new law (from forests, grasslands and wetlands to rivers, lakes and coral beds) from a poor to a good condition by 2030, increasing to 60% by 2040, and 90% by 2050.

Forty-eight WTO members participating in the Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform (FFSR) initiative presented a plan on 27 February at the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi to advance work on the rationalisation, phase-out or elimination of harmful fossil fuel subsidies. 

Participants in the initiative include the EU, the UK and New Zealand.

Oxford University has released an updated version of its globally influential Oxford Principles for Net Zero Aligned Carbon Offsetting. The new version says companies should gradually rely more on carbon credits sourced from carbon removal projects, rather than emissions avoidance projects.  

Crédit Agricole, Europe’s third largest bank, has become the eighth bank to state that it will not finance Total's proposed Papua LNG project, according to Market Forces.

Others declining to do so include the Commonwealth Bank and Westpac, Market Forces says.

The Asian Development Bank committed a record amount of climate finance in 2023 to help Asia Pacific developing countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

ADB committed $9.8 billion in climate finance from its own resources last year—$5.5 billion for mitigation and $4.3 billion for adaptation—a more than 46% increase on its 2022 climate financing commitments.

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