ESG Snapshot: Issue 39

ESG Snapshot: Issue 39

Highlights in this week's issue include:

  • Triple A. The Climate Change Authority says it will propose a 2035 emissions target that is ambitious, achievable, and advantageous to Australia.
  • Good, better, best. The Climate Leaders Coalition has released a guide to internal carbon pricing, which sets out three potential approaches.
  • 'General duty' complaint. The Queensland LNP has objected to state government plans to strengthen a general environmental duty provision.
  • On message. A ministerial council has agreed to develop consistent national messaging on ESG.
  • Green iron. The company behind a Pilbara green steel project has made an EPBC referral for stage one of six potential stages.
  • Visy's new record. Visy has boosted the average recycled content in its glass packaging to 63% (company news).
  • CO2 imports. Darwin's Middle Arm precinct could facilitate CO2 imports for sequestration, DCCEEW has told a Senate inquiry.
  • Fast, fair and inclusive. ACOSS is launching a just transition blueprint (see events).

Interested in working for Chanel, Mirvac, Gippsland Water, or Sustainability Victoria? Check out this issue's jobs board!

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


Consultation opportunity - 2035 target and sector pathways. a 2035 emissions reduction target in the range of 65% to 75% below 2005 levels would be ambitious, and could be achievable, according to a new Climate Change Authority consultation paper.

The Authority will provide its final advice on sector pathways by 1 August, and will submit its final advice on targets in October. Comments on the consultation paper are due by 14 May.

In a speech to the Queensland Media Club, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the government will will not be an observer of the energy transition – "we will be a participant, a partner, an investor and enabler".

Albanese said the government needed to invest at scale and be more assertive in building sovereign capability, and also flagged the introduction this year of a Future Made in Australia Act.

Statutory development and consultation opportunity - offshore wind. DCCEEW is inviting comments by 12 May on draft Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Amendment Regulations.

The regulations deal with issues including management plans, financial securities, safety and protection zones, and record-keeping.

A CSIRO survey of attitudes toward the renewable energy transition has found that rolling out the transition in an affordable way was the top priority for four in ten Australians, with most of them (82%) ranking it in their top three priorities. 

Other top-three priorities were energy self-reliance, and emissions reductions, with reliability being a close fourth. Almost half (47%) preferred a moderate paced transition scenario compared to faster and more extensive change (40%). A total of 13% preferred a slower transition. 

More than 80% of Australians would at least tolerate living within 10 kilometres of renewable energy infrastructure. 

DCCEEW has released waste export data for July to September 2023. Unlike previous summaries, it does not include a written analysis of the data.

New research from CSIRO and the University of Toronto in Canada, estimates up to 11 million tonnes of plastic pollution is sitting on the ocean floor.

The Ministerial Council on Trade and Investment met in Perth last Thursday, discussing issues including the clean energy transition, supply chain resilience, international partnerships, and critical minerals.

The communique says ministers agreed that they would this year develop "consistent environmental, social and governance (ESG) national messaging to support investment attraction".

DCCEEW has opened for comment an EPBC referral from POSCO-owned Port Hedland Green Steel Pty Ltd for its proposed hydrogen-based iron project in Port Hedland's Boodarie Strategic Industrial Area. 

In stage one, the facility would process up to 3.5 million tonnes of iron ore into pellets that would mostly be fed into a hot briquettes iron ((HBI) plant, to produce about two million tonnes of HBI. The remaining pellets (about 0.7 million tonnes) would be exported.

The referred action represents the first stage of up to six stages of development.

"HBI production based on 100% hydrogen technology is yet to be developed on a cost-effective basis," the referral says.

"Stage one effectively represents the proof of concept that hydrogen can replace natural gas [as the reductant]. Stage 1 needs to be proven technically feasible before stages 2-6 can be developed."

The project "can be a catalyst for the Pilbara more widely to transform itself into a globally relevant supplier of green iron, if the opportunity is seized", the referral says.

The project, which would be a candidate for support through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, would use POSCO-developed MidrexFlex technology, which is as yet commercially untested.

ARENA has awarded $59.1 million to 21 research projects focused on green iron and steel and on hydrogen.

A total of $24.6 million has gone to green iron and steel projects, with the largest grant ($4.4 million) going to UNSW for research into blast furnace innovation.

Hydrogen research projects will share the remaining $34.2 million, with the largest grant ($4.9 million) going to Fortescue subsidiary MIH2 Pty Ltd to scale-up and demonstrate next generation CSIRO axial flow electrolyser for green hydrogen production.

Minister for the Environment, Tanya Plibersek, plans to refuse Walker Corporation's application for a development on Toondah Harbour, near Brisbane. Toondah Harbour is part of the Moreton Bay Ramsar Site, which is recognised as a wetland of international importance.

The company has 10 business days to respond to the Minister’s proposed decision.

A Senate committee inquiry into greenwashing will hold its first public hearing on 22 April.

Hearings by a Senate committee inquiry into Darwin's Middle Arm industrial precinct were held last Wednesday and Thursday. Those giving evidence included NT Chief Minister Eva Lawler, and representatives of the NT EPA, the NT Environment Centre, Indigenous groups and community groups. Transcript will be available shortly here.

The inquiry received more than 200 submissions. A DCCEEW submission says the precinct "may allow industry to import CO2 for offshore storage, provided all regulatory requirements are satisfied".

It also notes that the precinct may facilitate CO2 utilisation for the production of methanol, jet fuel, urea, methane, and mineral carbonates.

A new Reef Health update from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has found that half of more than 1,000 individual reefs surveyed 836 reefs in the Marine Park and 244 reefs in the Torres Strait region) showed high or very high levels of bleaching.

Only a quarter of the individual reefs recorded no to low levels of bleaching.

The Carbon Market Institute has released a report on Carbon markets and Australia's net zero challenge, with contributions from organisations including Gilbert + Tobin, Climateworks, and the Australian Biodiversity Conservation Foundation.

The Climate Leaders Coalition has released an Internal Carbon Pricing for Decision Makers Playbook.

The report discusses shadow pricing, applying an internal fee, and pooling these funds into a carbon investment scheme.

New grants - international industrial decarbonisation collaboration. A joint funding call for Australian and Austrian industrial decarbonisation projects will open on 17 April, with individual grants of up to $3.5 million available to Australian applicants.  

Applicants must have at least one partner from both countries. Applications close on 18 July.

The Institute for Sustainable Futures has released a report titled Towards a Renewable Energy Superpower, commissioned by the Climate Action Network Australia, the AMWU and Boundless Earth.

The report identifies five key opportunities - a diversified battery supply chain, high voltage cable manufacturing, wind tower manufacturing and offshore wind port infrastructure, solar supply chain expansion, and electric heavy vehicle manufacturing.

Other new reports:


The LNP member of a state parliamentary committee has objected to a proposal in a government environment Bill that would a make breach of the state's general duty an offence, and has noted that the Queensland Resources Council is also opposed to the measure.

The committee issued its report last Friday on the government's Environmental Protection (Powers and Penalties) And Other Legislation Amendment Bill, with government MPs recommending passage of the Bill.

A new agreement between state-owned CleanCo, and the North Queensland Airport Group, will result in Cairns and Mackay Airports being powered by 100% renewables 2025. 

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

Consultation opportunity - threatened species. The state government is inviting comments by 3 May on 71 draft 'saving our species' conservation plans.

In addition, 97 zoo-bred Bellinger River snapping turtles have been released into the Bellinger River, bringing the total number released to 179 since 2018, when the species was on the brink of extinction.

Five councils will share $10.4 million in EPA grants to implement new food organics and garden organics (FOGO) kerbside recycling services for more than 260,000 households.

Open consultations:

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

An Australian-first electric aircraft development centre has opened in Gippsland. Dovetail Electric Aviation's Development Centre is located in the Latrobe Aerospace Technology Precinct, in the Latrobe Regional Airport.

Dovetail will retrofit regional aircraft with batteries and hydrogen fuel cells.

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

Since applications under Victoria's Solar for Apartments program opened on 13 February, 143 apartment buildings housing 2,477 apartments have applied for the funding. The deadline for applying for funding has now been extended to 31 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.

The Jacqui Lambie Network, which has three MPs in the new Tasmanian Parliament, has signed an agreement with returned Liberal Premier Jeremy Rockliff guaranteeing its support for all appropriation and revenue bills.

Western Australia

Consultation opportunity - capacity investment scheme. The federal government is consulting on the design of the first WA tender under its Capacity Investment Scheme, which will target 500MW of four-hour equivalent (2 GWh) clean dispatchable capacity.

Comments on the draft design are due by 29 April, and applications to tender for the provision of storage capacity will be invited mid-year.

Summit Southern Cross Power Holdings - a subsidiary of Sumitomo Corporation - will receive $1 million from the state government's Collie Futures Industry Development Fund towards a feasibility study into the construction of a Liquid Air Energy Storage facility.

The EPA has recommended that plans by the City of Gosnells to rezone 257ha of land in Kenwick from 'General Rural' to 'Business Development' should not be permitted.

EPA Chair Professor Matthew Tonts said the assessment had highlighted the challenges of persistent development on the Swan Coastal Plain.

"The extraordinarily biodiverse, internationally-significant Greater Brixton Street Wetlands are located within and adjacent to the amendment areas," he said.

However, the EPA has proposed approval conditions, in case the planning and environment ministers decide to allow the rezoning, despite the EPA's advice. The EPA's report is open for public appeal until 24 April.

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.

ESG Snapshot is distributed to C-suite executives and sustainability and climate professionals in companies and organisations that are members of BCSDA, which is the local network partner of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. For membership enquiries, contact ESG Snapshot is available to BCSDA non-members on a six-week trial basis.

BCSDA welcomes enquiries from organisations and companies interested in distributing ESG Snapshot under their own logo to their members, clients or suppliers.
Coming up on 1 July - BCSDA's Fiona Wain Oration. To be delivered by inaugural Grattan Institute chief executive Professor John Daley AM, in honour of former BCSDA chief executive and sustainability pioneer, Fiona Wain.
April 16, Blueprint for fair, fast, and inclusive climate change action. An Australian Council of Social Services webinar launch of its blueprint framework.
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, MECLA spotlight on building services. A webinar on embodied carbon in building services such as HVAC and refrigeration. Hosted by the Materials and Embodied Carbon Leaders Alliance.
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.
April 29, Rethinking the origins and future of Australian environmental law. A webinar hosted by the National Environmental Law Association.
May 1, AI - key trends and developments. An evening event in Sydney, presented by the Swedish Australia Chamber of Commerce.
May 7 and 8, Energy auditing masterclass. A two day course hosted by the Energy Efficiency Council.
May 8, Navigating mandatory reporting: Roadmaps and supplier engagement strategies. An event in Sydney and online, hosted by Moir Group, and featuring Aletta Boshoff, BDO's partner and national leader, IFRS & corporate reporting, ESG & sustainability.
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.
November 5, Sustainability leaders summit. An event in Auckland.
Jobs Board
Chanel has a vacancy for a Sydney-based sustainability senior manager.
Victoria's Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action is recruiting an executive director for its Energy Transition and Strategy Division.
Gippsland Water is hiring a Latrobe Valley-based climate and biodiversity lead.
The Local Government Association of SA is recruiting a project support officer, regional climate partnerships.
Martinus Rail is hiring a Sydney-based sustainability lead.
Mirvac is seeking a Sydney-based sustainability analyst.
Sustainability Victoria has a vacancy for a program development lead - commercial and growth.

Company news and resources
Fortescue has opened Australia's first fully automated electrolyser manufacturing facility in Gladstone. Stage one will have an initial capacity of more than 2GW of electrolyser capacity annually.

Stage two will see development of a 50MW hydrogen production facility, known as PEM50), capable of producing up to 8,000 tonnes of green hydrogen annually from 2025.
So far this financial year, Visy has achieved an average of 63% recycled glass in its packaging across Australia and New Zealand, up 5% on the FY23 average. The figure is higher for recycled coloured glass (amber and green) at 75%.

Visy has a goal of achieving an average 70% recycled content in its glass packaging, with the company saying a glass container with 70% recycled content uses up to 30% less energy to make than a container with no recycled content.
As Woodside's annual general meeting looms, a CCS joint venture led by the company has signed an MoU with Yara Pilbara Fertlisers that could result in CO2 from Yara's facility being sequestered in a multi-user carbon storage hub offshore from Karratha.
ZEN Energy is proposing a 1GW pumped hydro project involving Lake Burragorang, located about 24 kilometres from Sydney, and degraded coal land at Nattai, on the escarpment above the lake.

UNFCCC executive secretary Simon Stiell has warned there are "two years to save the world" and has stressed the "critical importance" of climate finance.

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled in favour of a group of older Swiss women, ruling that the Swiss government was failing to comply with its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights to take action on climate change.

The Board of the Science-based Targets initiative (SBTi) has signalled it plans to allow the use of carbon credits to help meet scope 3 targets, in the next iteration of its flagship Corporate Net-Zero Standard.

The announcement prompted criticism from within the SBTi and from some external partners, prompting the SBTi board to clarify that any such move would be subject to standard SBTi research and consultation processes.

The UK-based Transition Planning Taskforce's Nature Working Group has released a new report on integrating nature into climate transition plans.

The OECD has launched a report on Infrastructure for a Climate-Resilient Future, which recommends that governments systematically factor climate resilience into infrastructure planning and decision-making.

 The OECD notes that an annual investment of USD 6.9 trillion in infrastructure will be necessary by 2030 to ensure infrastructure investment is compatible with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement.  

The Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (ICVCM) has announced the first three carbon crediting schemes that satisfy its Core Carbon Principles (CCP) - ACR, Climate Action Reserve (CAR), and Gold Standard.

The three schemes have met the CCP criteria for effective governance, transparency, tracking and robust independent third-party validation and verification. They have also met the CCP rules on robust quantification of emission reductions and removals, no double counting and sustainable development benefits and safeguards.

The decision means the three programs will be eligible to use the CCP label on new and existing carbon credits, if they are issued under CCP-approved methodologies. The ICS is still considering applications from other schemes, including Verra. 

The Asian Development Bank plans to launch an ASEAN Climate Finance Policy Platform, which will support Southeast Asian finance ministry leaders in advancing collective action in the battle against climate change, ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa has announced. 

"Climate change is the most urgent issue facing Southeast Asia," Asakawa said. 

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.

Click to search via SDG

SDG 10
SDG 11
SDG 12
SDG 13
SDG 14
SDG 15
SDG 16
SDG 17