ESG Snapshot: Issue 40

ESG Snapshot: Issue 40

Highlights in this week's issue include:

  • Greenwashing hearing. Treasury, ASIC, the ACCC, and many others will today appear before a Senate inquiry hearing into greenwashing.
  • Companies disclose climate progress. Twenty five large emitters have disclosed information on their climate change pledges and progress, through the federal CERT program.
  • Thumbs down for Plan B. An independent analysis commissioned by VicGrid concludes the proposed VNI-West transmission project is preferable to a widely publicised alternative.
  • Up to $15 million. Large decarbonisation grants are on offer in WA.
  • Four futures. A new CSIRO report describes four scenarios for Australian agriculture in 2050, including 'landscape stewardship' and 'system decline'.
  • Two bills. The Queensland parliament has passed two major climate bills, with the Opposition LNP saying it's support for one of them is "significant and carefully considered".
  • 2030 targets smashed. Queensland and SA say new data shows they've beaten their 2030 emissions targets, and Queensland says the result vindicates its native vegetation laws.

Interested in working for Downer, Western Sydney Airport, or Aware Super? Check out this issue's jobs board! New events include an AICD climate governance forum.

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


Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has announced legislation to establish Environment Protection Australia (EPA) and Environment Information Australia (EIA) will be introduced soon.

However, legislation to implement EPBC Act reforms has been delayed, and will be released in draft form at a later stage.

The EPA will be an independent statutory agency, although it will operate within DCCEEW until 1 July next year. The EIA will operate within DCCEEW.

Limited details from DCCEEW on the proposals are here. A Senate committee inquiry conducted a hearing on the changes last Wednesday, with transcript due soon.

The Clean Energy Regulator has released the latest detailed annual reports from 25 companies that have voluntary disclosed their emissions and renewable energy performance through the Regulator's Corporate Emissions Reduction Transparency (CERT) regime.

Reporters include AGL, Aldi, Aurizon, Coles, Fletcher Building, Fortescue, Orica, Woodside, and Woolworths.

Of the 25 participating companies:

    • 20 have commitments to reach net zero emissions by 2050, and six of these companies are already carbon neutral.
    • 11 have emissions reduction or emissions intensity reduction commitments that include scope 3 emissions.
    • 13 have commitments to reach 100% renewable electricity use by 2030.

The federal government has announced what it terms "the largest single ever tender for renewable energy in Australia".

The national Capacity Investment Scheme tender will launch in May and will target 6GW of generation.

At least 2.2GW will be from NSW, and an allocation of at least 300MW will be dedicated to South Australian projects.

The NSW agreement builds on the first CIS/NSW Roadmap pilot tender conducted in 2023, which is delivering six battery and virtual power plant projects with more than 1GW of capacity in the state, the federal government said.

The inclusion of NSW projects in the upcoming CIS tender will replace the scheduled Q2 2024 generation Long-Term Energy Service Agreements (LTESA) tender under the NSW Roadmap, and generation projects eligible for LTESA tenders will be eligible to participate in the CIS tender.

NSW will separately proceed with its scheduled Q2 2024 LTESA tender for long-duration storage infrastructure.

The first round of tenders for Western Australian projects, targeting 500MW of dispatchable power through storage for renewables, will open mid-year, subject to consultation and final agreement. It would be enough to power 45,000 homes.

The federal government will provide $400 million in new loans to Alpha HPA to establish Australia's first high-purity alumina processing facility in Gladstone.

High-purity alumina is used in LED lighting, semiconductors, lithium-ion batteries, and other high-tech applications.

The loans will be provided by Export Finance Australia (EFA) through the Government’s $4 billion Critical Minerals Facility, as well as through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility and EFA's Commercial Account.

The federal government has also conditionally approved $185 million to Renascor Resources to fast-track the development of Stage One of its Siviour Graphite Project in South Australia.

A Senate committee inquiry into greenwashing will hold its first public hearing today, with Treasury, ASIC, the ACCC, Glencore, DCCEEW, Australian Super, and the Australia Institute among those scheduled to appear.

Climate Active certified organisations are required to submit their annual report for the 2023 calendar year by 30 April. Those on a financial year reporting cycle must submit their next annual report by 31 October.

A landmark new CSIRO report describes four potential scenarios for Australian agriculture in 2050 - regional ag capitals, landscape stewardship, climate survival, and system decline.

Walker Corporation has withdrawn its application for EPBC approval for a development in Toondah Harbour near Brisbane, following an announcement by Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek that she intended to refuse approval.

Grant opportunity - 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.

Australia and Singapore are partnering on a $20 million initiative to help reduce emissions in the maritime sector.  

The Australia-Singapore Initiative on Low Emissions Technologies (ASLET) for maritime and port operations will be jointly delivered by CSIRO and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.  

ASLET aims to develop a green and digital shipping corridor between Singapore and Australia.

The federal government has rejected a recommendation that the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) be moved back to Canberra.

APVMA's head office was moved to Armidale several years ago, on the orders of former Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce.

The government's preliminary response to the review, also rejects a number of its other recommendations, including a recommendation to abolish the APVMA Board.

The government will release a more detailed response to the review recommendations later this year.

An Energetics analysis concludes Australia is not on track to achieve a 43% emissions reduction target by 2030.

The Investor Group on Climate Change has released its submission on the proposed national adaptation plan.

Open consultations:


Statutory development - climate bills. State parliament has passed the Clean Economy Jobs Act and the Energy (Renewable Transformation and Jobs) Act.

The Clean Economy Jobs Act legislates emissions reduction targets of 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, 75% below by 2035, and net zero by 2050.

It also establishes an advisory expert panel, and provides for the development of sector plans.

The Energy (Renewable Transformation and Jobs) Act enshrines in law renewable energy targets of 50% renewable energy by 2030, 70% by 2032 and 80% by 2035. It passed with government amendments that dealt with matters including social licence.

The Clean Economy Jobs Bill passed with the support of the Opposition LNP, with shadow environment minister Sam O'Connor noting that about 92% of the world’s GDP is covered by commitments to net zero. O'Connor also noted that investment in the low-carbon energy transition "surged 17% in 2023".

"Queensland is in a fierce competition locally and internationally to secure as much of that investment as we can," he said. "The LNP's decision today will provide certainty to the market about the direction in which our state is heading. Our support today sends a signal to investors that under a future LNP government Queensland is open for business."

"For several years the LNP has committed to achieving the end goal of net zero. Our decision to support the targets outlined in this bill is significant and it has been carefully considered," O'Connor said.

ALP Deputy Premier Cameron Dick welcomed the LNP decision.

"It is welcome news because of what it means," he said. "It means that the LNP now supports our vegetation management laws. Our vegetation management laws are absolutely critical to achieving our 75% target. You cannot achieve a 75% reduction in emissions without Labor’s vegetation management laws. 

However, the LNP opposed the other Bill, which enshrines renewable energy targets in law.

Shadow energy minister Deb Frecklington didn't directly oppose the renewables targets.

"We do not want to miss the once-in-a-generation chance to create new careers and keep our brightest kids in the bush," she acknowledged. "We do not want those energy careers going across the border or to another country."

However, Frecklington argued that the targets should be reviewed every two years, and the LNP therefore opposed the renewables bill.

The state government has purchased Vergemont Station, a 352,589-hectare cattle grazing property in western Queensland, with the help of a $21 million philanthropic donation brokered by The Nature Conservancy.

Approximately 98% of Vergemont Station is covered in remnant vegetation, and contains 34 different regional ecosystems.

Vergemont Station adjoins the recently acquired Tonkoro Station, and when combined with surrounding reserves and parks they will create a protected area corridor that conserves almost one and a half million hectares of Channel Country.

The state government has confirmed it will develop a statutory renewables code of conduct to ensure project developers engage with local communities, and share benefits with them.

The state government says new federal data shows it has "smashed its first emissions reduction target almost a decade ahead of schedule", achieving a 35% reduction in emissions in 2022, significantly exceeding its current 2030 target of a 30% reduction.

The result is "further proof of the success of Queensland’s vegetation management laws, which have reduced the amount of land clearing carried out across the state and resulted in significant emission reductions in the land sector", the state government said.

New South Wales

Statutory development - chemicals. The state government has made changes to the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 to strengthen the regulation of industrial chemicals and align with new national standards for industrial chemicals risk management.

Consultation opportunity - freight reform. The impact of climate change and the rise of Renewable Energy Zones are among the issues covered in a new state government discussion paper on freight policy reform.

An advisory panel with members including Kerry Schott has been established to provide independent advice on the reforms, and a webinar will be held on 24 April. Submissions close on 31 May.


VicGrid has released an independent analysis by Jacobs of the merits of a widely publicised alternative approach to the VNI-West transmission link. The analysis rejects the alternative as not the best solution for Victoria.

The state government has made public the referral for Squadron Energy's proposed 420MW Moreton Hill wind farm near Ballarat.

Statutory development. New Victorian Energy Efficiency Target Amendment (Prohibition on Telemarketing and Door-to-door Sales) Regulations will come into operation on 1 May.

Yarra Valley Water has started work on its $48 million Lilydale Food Waste to Energy project – which is expected to become fully operational in 2025. 

The facility will divert 55,000 tonnes of food waste from landfill annually, and will generate sufficient renewable electricity to meet 35% of Yarra Valley Water's energy needs. or enough to power the equivalent of more than 2,200 Victorian households.

Yarra Valley Water already operates a food waste to energy plant at Wollert.

The state government says new annual data just released by the federal government shows South Australia has surpassed its commitment to reduce net emissions by at least 50% by 2030.

Western Australia

New grant opportunity - decarbonisation. Applications for grants of between $5 million and $15 million are now being accepted by a state government/Chevron backed fund.

The fund supports large research and innovation activities that significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions or test, demonstrate and deploy technologies that support lower carbon projects. Applications must be lodged by 6 June.

The state government will provide $4.5 million to International Graphite to establish a commercial graphite plant at Collie, building on a previous $2 million grant to establish a pilot graphite micronising plant.

In addition to the $4.5 million, the state government will provide $2 million for International Graphite to conduct a feasibility study into establishing a battery anode material facility in Collie. 

The state government's Forest Management Plan, developed in conjunction with the decision to end commercial logging of native forests, will be bolstered with a $67.2 million funding allocation over the next four years. The funding will be part of the 2024-25 State Budget. 

The state government has tabled in Parliament the report of a Marsden Jacob review of the Mining Rehabilitation Fund.

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.

Open consultations:

  • Capacity Investment Scheme. The federal government is consulting on the design of the first WA tender under its Capacity Investment Scheme, with comments due by 29 April.
Northern Territory

Key industry leaders and representatives from Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States met in Darwin last week to discuss critical mineral production, supply chain resilience and economic security. 

The Darwin Dialogue was convened by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, which has released a report on Reclaiming Leadership: Australia and the Critical Minerals Race.

The report notes that Australia has signed 25 agreements with other nations
to work with them to develop a network of secure and sustainable critical minerals supply chains.

However, it says the federal government's current critical minerals strategy "sells Australia and its allies short by focusing only on domestic production and outbound supply chains".

The report makes seven recommendations.

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 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 3, The state of democracy. An evening event in Sydney hosted by the Environmental Planning Law Association and the Australian Institute of Administrative Law.
May 7 and 8, Energy auditing masterclass. A two day course hosted by the Energy Efficiency Council.
May 8, Australia-China decarbonisation roundtable. An event in Beijing and online. Hosted by ANU.
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.
23 August, Climate governance forum. An event in Sydney, hosted by the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
November 5, Sustainability leaders summit. An event in Auckland.
Jobs Board
Aware Super is recruiting a manager, corporate sustainability.
The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet is hiring advisers for its industry, infrastructure and environment division.
Downer EDI Ltd is hiring a Sydney-based senior sustainability advisor.
Western Sydney Airport has a vacancy for a sustainability manager.

Company news and resources
In its latest annual review and sustainability report, CIMIC Group says 96% of revenue aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals in 2023 and 57% of revenue was earned from sustainability-rated or cleantech projects.
The latest impact report from IBM says the company has reduced its operational greenhouse gas emissions by 68.5% against a 2010 baseline, surpassing its 2025 target. IBM has also met its 2025 waste diversion target.
Viva Energy and Cleanaway have will undertake a prefeasibility assessment of a circular solution for soft plastics and other hard-to-recycle plastics currently that would convert them back into feedstock for food-grade plastic resin.

The move follows Viva's announcement last May that its Geelong refinery would become a broader energy hub.

The International Court of Justice has received its highest ever number of submissions on any matter, to its investigation of the obligations of states in respect of climate change.

The 91 written statements made to the Court include a submission from the Pacific Island Forum, which counts Australia among its members.

The Global Maritime Forum and the Rocky Mountain Institute have released a report  outlining strategies for ports to become first movers in providing green methanol and ammonia bunkering. 

New Zealand has contributed NZ$41 million in climate finance to the Asian Development Bank-led Energy Transition Mechanism.

The ETM uses public and private finance to accelerate the retirement and repurposing of fossil fuel power plants.

The European Commission has approved the creation of an environmental zone in the city centre of Stockholm, where petrol and diesel cars will be banned entirely from 2025.

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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