ESG Snapshot: Issue 37

ESG Snapshot: Issue 37

Highlights in this week's issue include:

  • Nothing 'dodgy'. The Greens have secured an amendment to Victoria's climate and renewable targets Bill.
  • Hit the gas. In a national first, Greenpower has certified a Jemena renewable gas project.
  • 'The first step'. The NSW Parliament has passed a major environment Bill, just one week after its introduction, with more legislation to come.
  • Carbon farming. A new SA law puts beyond doubt that carbon farming projects can be carried out on pastoral leases.
  • New grants. WA is offering new clean energy grants of up to $4 million, and NSW is offering new food waste grants of up to $200,000.

Interested in working for Woolworths, Hunter Water, or environment departments in Western Australia or NSW? Check out this issue's jobs board!

Plus new Climate Change Authority appointments, and new hearings of a federal residential electrification inquiry, and a WA ESG inquiry. International news includes a We Mean Business report on accelerating climate finance through carbon markets.


Jemena's Malabar biomethane project has become the first renewable gas project in Australia to receive renewable gas certification under the GreenPower scheme.

The project is producing around 110 terajoules of renewable gas from wastewater and injecting it into the gas network. The project is co-funded by Jemena and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

GreenPower launched its national renewable gas certification program in 2023. The certification means Jemena will be able to earn and sell renewable gas certificates from the project. This creates an additional revenue stream, and allows Jemena's business gas consumers to match their fossil gas use with accredited low-emission renewable gas certificates. 

Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen has appointed Fiona Simson and Richard Bolt to the board of the Climate Change Authority, and has re-appointed Brad Archer as the Authority's chief executive.

Simson is the former chair of the National Farmers Federation, and is also a former NFF president. Bolt is chair of Hydro Tasmania, and is a former secretary of Victoria's Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources.

DCCEEW, which has for a long time been working on a proposed "Integrated Farm and Land Management" method for earning Australian carbon credits, has signalled it is adjusting its approach to the new method.

According to analysts Reputex and Market Advisory Group, DCCEEW wants to more closely examine the extent to which grazing affects vegetation regeneration on land that hasn't previously been cleared, before deciding the extent to which this activity can generate ACCUs.

Managed grazing suppression was one of the proposed elements of the IFLM method.

ARENA has awarded $2 million to Lochard Energy for an 18-month feasibility study into large-scale hydrogen production and storage in Victoria's onshore Otway Basin.

The $6.3 million feasibility study is the second stage of Lochard's H2RESTORE project, which aims to help firm the National Electricity Market through the provision of long duration, seasonal energy storage in the form of hydrogen.

ARENA has awarded a $1.66 million grant to the Aboriginal Clean Energy Partnership Pty Ltd (ACEP) to support a feasibility study for the East Kimberley Clean Energy and Hydrogen Project.

ACEP was formed in 2022 as a joint venture between three native title holders - Yawoorroong Miriuwung Gajerrong Yirrgeb Noong Dawang Corporation, Balanggarra Ventures Ltd, and Kimberley Land Council Aboriginal Corporation - as well as climate and nature investment and advisory firm Pollination.

A parliamentary committee inquiry into residential electrification last Friday heard from Dr Saul Griffith, and representatives of organisations including the Housing Industry Association, the Green Building Council, Master Builders Australia, and the Property Council.

The Australian National University has released its latest annual report on Australia's environmental condition. The report examines the changing condition of our natural resources and ecosystems.

The federal government has granted EPBC approval for Lightsource bp's 840MW Sandy Creek solar farm in the NSW central west.

CSIRO chief executive Doug Hilton has written an open letter defending CSIRO's GenCost report, which provides insights into the cost of new-build electricity.

Hilton describes GenCost as providing "the very best estimates for the cost of future new-build electricity generation in Australia".

"The GenCost report can be trusted by all our elected representatives, irrespective of whether they are advocating for electricity generation by renewables, coal, gas or nuclear energy," Hilton says.

The latest east coast gas market outlook from the Australian Energy Market Operator has forecast a gap in gas supply for southern states from 2028, as production from Bass Strait continues to decline faster than demand.

The report signals that new investment is urgently needed if gas supply from 2028 is to keep up with demand.

The Clean Energy Council has released a recording of its webinar on the Clean Energy Report for 2024.

Grant opportunity - climate smart agriculture. Applications for climate smart agriculture partnerships and innovation grants of up to $5 million are capacity grants of up to $1 million are being accepted by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries until 8 April. Applications for capacity grants of up to $1 million under the same program are being accepted until 28 March.

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.

Open consultations:

  • Energy sector decarbonisation. Submissions to a DCCEEW discussion paper on a proposed electricity and energy sector decarbonisation plan are due by 12 April.
  • National adaptation plan. DCCEEW has released an issues paper on a proposed national adaptation plan, with comments due by 11 April. A webinar on the proposed plan will be held on 26 March.

A construction plastics recycling scheme is being expanded from South East Queensland into central Queensland, with the state government providing a $150,000 grant to the Master Plumbers Association to establish new PVC recycling depots.

Grant opportunity - bioenergy. A $4 million Bioenergy Fund is offering matched financial assistance of between $250,000 and $2 million. Applications close on 11 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.

New South Wales

Statutory development - environmental omnibus Bill. Parliament has passed the Environment Protection Legislation Amendment (Stronger Regulation and Penalties) Bill 2024, which introduces tougher, broader penalties and inserts new climate change provisions into the state's framework environment law.

The Bill was passed without amendment exactly a week after its introduction into the Legislative Assembly, and passed with the support of the Opposition and the Greens.

Environment Minister Penny Sharpe told the Legislative Council that further environmental legislation would be introduced in this term of Parliament, describing the Bill as "just the first step".

The state government has strengthened the Cumberland Plain Conservation Plan, which provides upfront biodiversity approval for housing development in specified western Sydney growth corridors.

The changes provide greater protection for koala habitat, and for the critically endangered Cumberland Plain woodland.

The Conservation Plan applies to an area of about 200,000 hectares in western Sydney.

Grant opportunity - food waste. The EPA is offering business food waste partnership grants for projects in the commercial and industrial sector that encourage food waste reduction and separation. Applications close on 19 April.

Open consultations:

  • Koalas. Comments on a discussion paper on NSW's Koala Strategy 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.


Statutory development - climate and renewable energy targets. Parliament has passed the Climate Change and Energy Legislation Amendment (Renewable Energy and Storage Targets) Bill 2023.

It did so after the government accepted a Greens amendment, moved in the Legislative Council, which will require the government of the day to obtain independent advice that the net-zero target for 2045 has been met.

Greens MP Ellen Sandell told Parliament the amendment aimed to close "a loophole in our laws that could allow dodgy offsets and unproven carbon capture and storage to be counted towards Victoria's net zero emissions reduction targets".

The amendment means an independent expert must scrutinise the "effectiveness of any proposed activities for the removal of greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere" and "the likely effectiveness of any eligible offsets".

The Bill increases the renewable energy target for 2030, introduce a new renewable energy target for 2035, and introduces energy storage and offshore wind targets.

It also expressly requires consideration of climate change when making certain decisions under planning legislation.

Only 9.4% of the energy used by state government departments is renewably sourced, according to a new strategic audit of the implementation of environmental management systems by state agencies and public authorities.

The audit was conducted by the state's Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability.

Grant opportunity - Landcare. Applications are now being accepted for Victorian Landcare grants, with a total of $3.55 million on offer. Applications close on 30 April.

Minister for Planning Sonya Kilkenny has released a Green Wedge and Agricultural Land Action Plan, which aims to preserve green wedges and agricultural land on Melbourne’s outskirts

Open consultations:

  • Clean energy jobs. The state government has issued a consultation paper on its proposed Victorian Energy Jobs Plan. Submissions are due by 3 April.
  • Tesla and CEP. Tesla Energy Ventures Australia Pty Ltd has applied to the Essential Services Commission for a licence to sell electricity in Victoria, and so has CEP Energy Retail Pty Ltd. Submissions are due by 29 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.

Statutory development - carbon farming. The state Parliament has passed the Pastoral Land Management and Conservation (Use of Pastoral Land) Amendment Bill 2024.

The Bill confirms that pastoral leases can be used for conservation and carbon farming purposes.

The Bill amends the Pastoral Land Management and Conservation Act, which covers 323 leases, extending over an area of 40 million hectares, or about 40% of South Australia's land area.

Of the existing pastoral leases, 21 are already being used for conservation purposes with the approval of the Pastoral Board. However, legal uncertainty about the board's ability to approve non-pastoral uses for conservation and carbon farming has arisen in recent years, prompting the introduction of the Bill.

Zero Petroleum, the world’s leading producer of synthetic fuel, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the state government to explore investment opportunities in South Australia.

Zero Petroleum is exploring opportunities to establish a synthetic fuel production plant in the state, with production commencing as soon as 2026. The plant would produce carbon neutral petrol, aviation fuel and diesel.

Open consultations:

  • Hydrogen and renewables. The state government is consulting on draft regulations under its recently passed Hydrogen and Renewable Energy Act. A webinar is scheduled for 20 March and comments close on 15 April.
  • Climate change. The state government has released a draft Bill to amend the state's Climate Change Act, with comments due by 5 April.

Western Australia

Grant opportunity - clean energy. The state government is offering grants of up to $4 million in the latest round of its Clean Energy Future Fund. The fund supports innovative projects to decarbonise existing industry, develop new renewable energy businesses and improve energy efficiency.

Applications must be submitted by 10 June.

A parliamentary committee inquiry into how WA's progress on ESG is helping to secure international investment has held new hearings, with Treasury officials, representatives of the WA grain growers cooperative, and professor Peter Newman among those giving evidence.

Grant opportunity - carbon farming. The state government is offering a further $2.77 million in carbon farming grants. Applications close on 20 May.

Grant opportunity - conservation. The state government is offering conservation grants of up to $450,000, with a total of $7 million on offer. Applications close on 20 May.

Meanwhile, the state government has announced a total of $500,000 in funding for five feral cat management projects, and has invited applications for further funding.

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

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March 28, Tapping into geothermal energy for renewable heating. A webinar hosted by A2EP.
April 4, Women in Renewables Victoria - April lunch. An event in Melbourne, hosted by Women in Renewables.
April 4, Banksia sustainability awards dinner gala. An event in Melbourne, hosted by the Banksia Foundation.
April 8, Corporate climate litigation. A one-hour lecture at Melbourne University or online, hosted by Melbourne Climate Futures.
April 10, Climate governance as system transformation. A one-hour lecture at Melbourne University or online, hosted by Melbourne Climate Futures.
April 16, Climate fundamentals: risks and impacts for decision-makers. A one-day course in Melbourne, hosted by Melbourne Climate Futures.
April 17, Sustainability forum 2024. An event in Adelaide hosted by the National GS1 Traceability Advisory Group.
April 18 and 19, Bioenergy - unlocking the circular economy. An event at Victoria's Lardner Park, hosted by the Victorian Bioenergy Network.
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 20 to 22, Carbon farming industry forum. An event in Cairns hosted by the Carbon Market Institute.
May 29 and 30, Fourth annual Australian renewable energy zones conference. An event in Sydney, hosted by Informa.
June 4, Clean energy investor conference 2024. An event in Melbourne, hosted by the Clean Energy Investor Group.
June 5 and 6, Tasmanian energy development conference. An event in Devonport, hosted by Informa.
Jobs Board
Cox Architecture is hiring a Sydney-based sustainability lead - carbon reduction.
NSW's Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water is establishing a talent pool for senior policy and project officers.
Western Australia's Department of Water and Environmental Regulation is recruiting climate change program officers and senior program officers.
Hunter Water is hiring a program lead - sustainability reporting.
The City of Ipswich has a vacancy for a sustainability and climate change coordinator.
Company news and resources
BASF has released its latest integrated report, which says it currently meets 20% of its electricity needs from renewables, and this should grow to at least 60% by 2030.
Glencore has released its latest climate action transition plan, announcing the removal of a coal production cap that it had introduced in 2019.
Rio Tinto has committed to improved disclosure of its greenhouse gas emissions, including its scope 3 emissions.
Woodside has released the transcript of a 12 March climate briefing presentation.

The We Mean Business alliance has released a new report on Accelerating Climate Finance Through Carbon Markets.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development has released a new Beacons Projects report, prepared by its Business and Industry Major Group, which highlights business-led partnerships and collaborations on environmental and climate issues.

The UN Environment Programme and the International Solid Waste Association have jointly published the 2024 Global Waste Management Outlook.

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