ESG Snapshot: Issue 38

ESG Snapshot: Issue 38

Highlights in this week's issue include:

  • Four federal bills. The federal government has introduced four climate and environment bills.
  • Three inquiries. Key parliamentary inquiries have ended in Queensland and NSW, and a federal inquiry has started into a treaty with climate components.
  • EPBC reform progress. A Senate committee inquiry will attempt to make public more details on the government's EPBC reform efforts.
  • Carbon criteria. Laing O'Rourke has set a cap on the carbon content of the concrete it will buy (company news).
  • How to engage on nature. A global investor alliance has issued guidance on nature engagements with companies in eight key sectors (international news).
  • And the winner is ...! Winners of the 2024 Banksia awards have been announced.

Interested in working for Capral, the Commonwealth Bank, Mars, or Yara Pilbara Fertilisers? Check out this issue's jobs board!

ESG Snapshot is published weekly by the Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia.


The government's new Energy Performance Strategy says a new NABERS Universal Benchmark tool is being developed for building types that lack a sector-specific NABERS rating tool. It will be launched this year.

The strategy adds that a review of the Australian Energy Market Operator's approach to developing Integrated System Plans will examine how it deals with demand-side matters, such as electrification and EVs.

The Australian Energy Regulator has released draft guidance on Valuing Emissions Reductions, which will be used by AEMO in the final version of its 2024 Integrated System Plan.

This will mark the first time that AEMO has taken the cost of emissions into account in evaluating the optimum future pathway for the national grid.

A long-running, Greens-chaired Senate committee inquiry into Australia's extinction crisis will hold a special hearing on 17 April to examine the government's plans to reform the EPBC Act.

APRA has written to banks, insurers, and super funds to advise on the scope, purpose and timing of its 2024 voluntary survey of how they are managing climate-related financial risk.

Unlike the inaugural 2022 survey, this year's survey will include additional questions on transition plans and nature risk.

Winners of 2024 Banksia awards include The Social Outfit, which took out the gold Banksia. The Social Outfit has trained more than 850 women from diverse migrant, refugee and cultural backgrounds, and provided employment to 97 of them.

Other award winners include The Reconnect Project (circular economy award), OPENAIR (healthy planet, healthy people), Teachers Mutual Bank (large business), and WWF (marketing and communications for impact).

The latest Quarterly Carbon Market report from the Clean Energy Regulator says schemes it administers reduced emissions by 65.5 million tonnes in 2023, 5.5% more than in 2022.

The report also says that in 2023, an annual record of 8.7 million large-scale generation certificates (LGCs) were cancelled to meet non-RET demand (for example to meet voluntary commitments).  

The federal government has announced that up to $1 billion will be allocated to a new Solar Sunshot program, which aims to build Australia's solar PV manufacturing capabilities. ARENA and DCCEEW will administer the program, and have invited registrations of interest to receive updates.

The federal government has released National Pollutant Inventory data for FY23, which provides data on pollutant emissions from more than 4,000 facilities.

Court ruling. Corporate regulator ASIC has won a greenwashing case in the Federal Court against Vanguard Investments Australia.

The court found that Vanguard contravened the ASIC Act numerous times, when it made false or misleading representations about ESG screens that were applied to to an "Ethically Conscious" global fund.

Statutory development. The government has introduced a Bill that would establish a mandatory climate risk disclosure regime.

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Delivering Better Financial Outcomes and Other Measures) Bill will introduce new climate reporting requirements that will apply to Australia's largest listed and unlisted companies from 1 January next year, with the requirements gradually extending to other companies.

Statutory development. The government has introduced the Net Zero Economy Authority Bill, which would establish a new Authority tasked with the promotion of the "orderly and positive economic transformation as the world decarbonises".

Submissions to a Senate inquiry into the Bill are due by 19 April.

Statutory development. The government has introduced the New Vehicle Efficiency Standard Bill, which would establish a duty for light-vehicle suppliers to meet or beat a carbon emissions target, adjusted for the types of vehicle they sell and the weight of each vehicle.

Statutory development. The government has introduced the Illegal Logging Prohibition Amendment (Strengthening Measures to Prevent Illegal Timber Trade) Bill, which aims to modernise and strengthen the original 2012 Act.

It would extend powers to test timber samples for species and harvest origin, and would require that notice be given of regulated timber products being brought into Australia.

The Senate environment committee has launched a new inquiry into Glencore's proposed carbon capture and storage project in Queensland. Submissions are due by 2 May.

Parliament's joint committee on treaties has launched an inquiry into the Tuvalu Falepili Union treaty announced by the leaders of Australia and Tuvalu earlier this year. The treaty deals with climate change cooperation and migration.

Submissions are due by 16 April.

The federal government has appointed John Sheldon as interim Energy Infrastructure Commissioner, following the decision of Andrew Dyer to retire.

Sheldon was most recently director of social licence policy at DCCCEW.

The Biodiversity Council, which was founded by 11 Australian universities, has released its second annual Biodiversity Concerns Survey report.

Consultation opportunity. Submissions to a new Senate committee inquiry into waste and recycling policies are due by 15 April.

In a National Press Club address, former climate minister Greg Combet said that governments should consider taking equity stakes in large, transformational projects, to help de-risk them.

Australia's Climate Leaders Coalition has released a Towards a Circular Australia Playbook.

Samantha McCulloch, chief executive of the Australian Energy Producers, which represents upstream gas companies, has urged the development of an Australian CCUS roadmap "to ensure we can realise our potential to be a major regional player in CCUS and to keep pace with the United States and Europe".

"The roadmap should also support the decarbonisation of hard-to-abate industries, such as steel and cement, by incentivising CCUS projects in energy-intensive regions around Australia," McCulloch said.

The Climate Council has released a report titled Seize the Decade, which outlines a strategy to cut emissions by 75% by 2030. The Council will host a webinar on the report on Thursday.

Beyond Zero Emissions has released a briefing paper on solar supply chains.

A Senate committee inquiry into the proposed Middle Arm industrial precinct in Darwin will hold public hearings on April 10 and 11.

The Carbon Market Institute has prepared example contract clauses for carbon projects, prepared by law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, to encourage greater consistency in contracts.

The Australian Alliance for Energy Productivity (A2EP) has released the recording of a recent webinar on the water-energy nexus: saving water to save energy.


Statutory development - clean economy. A state parliamentary committee has released its report on the government's Clean Economy Jobs Bill.

The committee recommends that the Bill be passed, with the LNP attaching a "statement of reservation".

Court case - coal project. The Australian Conservation Foundation and Mackay Conservation Group have started legal proceedings in the Queensland Land Court, seeking the refusal of Whitehaven Coal's proposed Winchester South coal mine in the Bowen Basin. 

The environment groups will argue the court should recommend no mining lease or environmental authority be granted, due to the project's significant environmental and human rights impacts.  

The state government has released a Renewable Energy Zone Roadmap that lays out a framework to strategically connect about 22GW of new grid-scale renewable energy in 12 potential locations across Queensland.

The roadmap provides for the establishment of Local Reference Groups for each proposed REZ.

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

A NSW committee inquiry into undergrounding transmission infrastructure has issued its final report.

The inquiry, instigated by the Greens, urged Transgrid and other electricity transmission providers to improve their consultation with communities. It said more information should be provided to communities on the "opportunities and constraints of undergrounding transmission lines versus overhead transmission lines".

With Labor committee members dissenting, it also recommended that the state government commission an independent assessment of the costs and benefits of undergrounding transmission lines.

Open consultations:

  • Koalas. Comments on a discussion paper on NSW's Koala Strategy are due by 26 April.

Statutory development - renewables. The government has gazetted the planning changes that will allow large renewable energy projects to be assessed through the Development Facilitation Program.

A state parliamentary committee inquiry into climate resilience is accepting submissions until 1 May.

The state government's Eminent Panel for Community Engagement is consulting on the future management of Central Highlands forests. Feedback must be provided by 29 April.

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.

Almost 4,000 homes that have previously received fossil gas containing 5% renewable hydrogen are now receiving a 10% blend, the state government has announced.

The state government has approved a koala management plan submitted by timber company AAG Investment Management, for its Kangaroo Island blue gum plantations.

The company had been ordered to halt operations after footage emerged of koalas being killed and injured within its plantations.

Western Australia

The state government has released a Powering the Global Energy Transition Prospectus, which outlines to international investors why Western Australia is well-positioned to be at the forefront of the global clean energy transition.

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.

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.

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

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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 7 and 8, Energy auditing masterclass. A two day course hosted by the Energy Efficiency Council.
May 9, Australian product stewardship forum. An event in Sydney, hosted by the Product Stewardship Centre of Excellence.
May 15 and 16, Energy Efficiency Council national conference. A two-day event in Sydney.
May 20 to 22, Carbon farming industry forum. An event in Cairns hosted by the Carbon Market Institute.
May 22, Nature and biodiversity seminar. An event in Melbourne hosted by the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors.
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
Capral is seeking an environmental, social and governance trainee in Brisbane.
Clough Projects has a vacancy for a sustainability and environment manager in Brisbane.
Victoria's Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action is recruiting for the chief executive of VicGrid, and for a director, legal and general counsel for VicGrid, as well as for a climate change policy analyst (agriculture) and
Slattery has a vacancy for a carbon planning leader.
Yara Pilbara Fertilisers is hiring a sustainability and governance lead.
Company news and resources
EnergyConnect, which is being delivered by Transgrid in conjunction with ElectraNet, has become the first electricity transmission project in Australia to receive an official 'leading design' rating from the Infrastructure Sustainability Council.

Actions that have earned the project the rating include achieving a significant reduction in clearing requirements, using towers that require less steel and concrete, and using low-carbon concrete.
Laing O'Rourke has become the first construction company to publish a maximum tolerance for carbon emissions embodied in the concrete products it buys in Australia, both directly and via its subcontractors.
The Climate Action 100+ alliance of investors has praised Orica for its climate ambition and performance.

The Climate Action 100+ investor alliance has released assessments of ten major oil and gas companies, finding that current transition plans are generally insufficient for investors to accurately gauge transition risk. However, there are examples of good practice, it says.

Nature Action 100, an international investor alliance, has published a new guide for investors to inform their nature engagements with companies in eight key sectors.  

The sectors include biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, chemicals, consumer goods, food, forestry, and metals and mining.

Nature Action 100 investors are prioritising these sectors for engagements due to their importance for reversing nature and biodiversity loss by 2030. 

Influence Map has released a Carbon Majors Database that traces 1,421 GtCO2e of cumulative historical emissions from 1854 through 2022 to 122 of the world's largest oil, gas, coal, and cement producers.

CDP has released a report on Driving Water Action Across Supply Chains, which says one in five companies responding to its survey report supply chain water risks that could have a significant impact on their business.

Some major companies are including water targets in the remuneration policies for their senior executives, the report notes.

New data shows last year's emissions under the EU's Emission Trading System reduced by the most significant amount since the ETS was launched in 2005. The main driver is the power sector's significant progress in decarbonisation.

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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