ESG Snapshot: Issue 41

ESG Snapshot: Issue 41

Highlights in this week's issue include:

  • Ban this, and not that. BlueScope wants a new ban on exporting steel scrap, and Veolia says an imminent ban on exporting waste paper should be axed.
  • Circularity and directors' duties. ASIC should issue directors' guidance on the circular economy, and its links to climate disclosure, says a report to government.
  • ACCU exit window. ACCU project developers can once again apply to exit their government delivery contracts, but with a new restriction.
  • Climate standard deadline. Australia's accounting standards body aims to finalise its standard on climate disclosure by the end of August.
  • Ocean views. Victoria has released interactive visualisations of offshore wind turbines.
  • US to tackle climate and trade. If the global trade of goods was its own country, it would be the second-largest carbon polluter in the world, according to US climate envoy John Podesta (international news).

Interested in working for Commbank, DCCEEW, Ventia, or in senior waste and resource recovery roles? Check out this issue's jobs board!

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


Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has launched a national Environmentally Sustainable Procurement Policy.

From 1 July, businesses bidding for government construction services projects above $7.5 million must meet agreed sustainability outcomes - a threshold that will capture about 50% of the value of construction services procurement contracts that are awarded by the government.

From 1 July 2025, the policy will extend to tenders for textiles, ICT goods, and furniture, fittings and equipment that have a value above $1 million.

Minister Plibersek has released the recommendations of the interim report of a Circular Economy Ministerial Advisory Group, which is chaired by Professor John Thwaites.

The report recommends that the government "explore with ASIC opportunities to raise the profile of circular economy activities in directors' duties".

"This could include asking the Australian Accounting Standards Board and ASIC to create guidance for how businesses can use the circular economy to comply with new climate-related disclosure requirements," the report says.

The six sector net-zero plans that are under development should include circular economy principles and actions, it says.

The report urges the development of a "National Circular Economy Framework and a power to set specific circularity standards for products and materials".

In addition, it recommends setting sector-based circular economy targets and embedding circular economy principles in key climate policies.

The Australian Building Codes Board should update the National Construction Code to address embodied carbon in fitouts and capital works, it adds.

CSIRO has released a report on Australia's circular economy opportunity, which focuses on five sectors - mining, construction, manufacturing, agriculture and resource recovery.

The report was commissioned by Australia's Chief Scientist, Cathy Foley, who is a member of Minister Plibersek's Circular Economy Ministerial Advisory Group.

The Australian Accounting Standards Board has announced it aims to release its Australian Sustainability Reporting Standards on climate-related financial disclosures by the end of August this year. The AASB released drafts of the standards last October.

Submissions to a Senate committee inquiry into waste and recycling have been released:

  • BlueScope urges the introduction of a ban the export of unprocessed scrap steel.
  • Veolia criticises the imminent ban on the export of waste paper and cardboard, saying it will not deliver environmental or social benefits.
  • MRI Consulting says nearly all voluntary product stewardship schemes have a recovery rate of less than 10%, and they need to be mandatory. It also calls for an increase in landfill levies.
  • The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association says "it is vital that Australia develop a national circular economy blueprint".

The Clean Energy Regulator has opened a new "exit window" opportunity for carbon project developers that are interested in exiting their contracts to deliver ACCUs to the government, so they can instead sell them on the private market.

In this fourth exit window round, developers must deliver at least 20% of their contracted delivery volume before they will be allowed to exit their contracts.

The Regulator expects that between 9 to 15 million ACCUs will be become available to the market during the exit window, excluding between 2 to 4 million ACCUs that will be delivered to the government to meet the 20% delivery requirement.

Fifteen organisations representing business, finance and investors have jointly backed a government Bill to establish a mandatory climate related financial disclosures framework.

The signatories include the Australian Institute of Company Directors, the Business Council of Australia, the Investor Group on Climate Change, and the Property Council of Australia.

Organisations including ASIC, Treasury, the ASX, the Australian Institute of Company Directors, the Investor Group on Climate Change, and the Carbon Market Institute appeared before a Senate committee hearing into the Bill to establish a mandatory climate related financial disclosures framework. Transcript is available here.

Transcript is now available of a recent Senate committee hearing on the government's plans to establish an EPA, ahead of undertaking broader EPBC reforms.

Consultation - costs and benefits of transmission infrastructure. How to value emissions reductions is one of the issues canvassed in an Australian Energy Regulator consultation paper on assessing the costs and benefits of transmission infrastructure. Comments are due by 5 June, and there will be a webinar on valuing emissions on 14 May.

Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen has announced grants for nine industrial decarbonisation projects totalling $330 million under its Our Powering the Regions Fund.

Companies benefiting from the grants include QAL, Alumina, AdBri, Shoalhaven Starches, CSBP, and Liberty Steel Group.

The government is also inviting further grant applications (with individual grants of up to $50 million available) under its Safeguard Transformation Stream. Applications close on 1 November.

Consultation - Solar Sunshot. ARENA has invited comments by 31 May on the design of the government's $1 billion Solar Sunshot program.

Renewable energy generation drove down wholesale electricity prices in the first quarter of 2024, despite higher temperatures pushing up demand, according to new data from the Australian Energy Market Operator.

Total electricity generation in Australia remained steady in 2023 with an estimated 273,106GWh generated, according to new government data.

Renewable sources contributed an estimated 95,963GWh, making up 35% of Australia’s total electricity generation, up 3 percentage points on its 2022 share .

The largest source of renewable generation was solar (16% of total generation), followed by wind (12%), and hydro (6%).

The statistics cover all electricity generation in Australia, including by power plants and by businesses and households for their own use. 

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.

Consultation - offshore infrastructure. The federal government is inviting comments by 7 June on draft transmission and infrastructure licence guidelines that will form part of its offshore electricity infrastructure framework.

Open consultations:


Queensland's Coordinator-General has declared the Capricornia Pumped Hydro Energy Storage and Transmission project to be a coordinated project, due to its significance and complexity, and work will now start on the draft terms of reference for the project's EIS.

The $2.87 billion project, which is being developed by the Capricornia Energy Hub, will have a stored capacity of up to 750MW for approximately 16 hours for a 24 hour period.

A solar farm and wind farm could eventually be located near the pumped hydro project.

New South Wales

Open consultations:

  • Freight reform. The impact of climate change and the rise of Renewable Energy Zones are among the issues covered in a state government discussion paper on freight policy reform. Submissions close on 31 May.

The state government is developing a new handbook for renewable energy project developers that will incorporate new state-wide maps that identify key habitat areas for native wildlife. 

By October 2024, it will also finalise research on the potential impact of wind turbines on threatened bird and bat species. 

The statutory guidance in the handbook will include

  • a new list of at-risk wildlife that renewable energy developers will need to consider in their planning
  • measures that they can take to prevent harm to those species.
  • a template for bat and bird management plans.

Sustainability Victoria has released its 2024-2027 strategic plan, which aims to make the state Australia's leading circular economy.

Priority sectors will be organics from food, farms and gardens, renewable energy infrastructure, difficult and emerging streams of waste, and the built environment (encompassing embodied carbon).

The state government has published new interactive images showing what offshore wind farms could look like from the Gippsland coastline.

The visualisations show what wind turbines might look like at 10km, 30km and 60km from Golden Beach and Woodside Beach, which are close to the Gippsland offshore wind development area.

Minister for Environment Steve Dimopoulos has announced grants for two lithium-ion battery recycling projects.

Ecobatt will receive $2.5 million to establish a lithium battery processing and recycling plant in Campbellfield, and Enviropacific Services will receive $1 million to establish a new plant in Stawell.

Western Australia

Horizon Power will this month start a one-year trial of Vehicle-to-Grid capability, in partnership with the Gascoyne Development Commission, Shire of Exmouth, Exmouth Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Exmouth Hospital.

The state government has launched a $1.5 million, four-year Resilient Rivers program. Since the 1970s, rivers across southwest WA have shown declines in streamflow of up to 80%. 

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.

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.

Northern Territory

The Territory government has signed an agreement with Tamboran Resources to buy gas from the Beetaloo Basin. The contract has a life of nine years, with the option to extend for a further six-and-a-half years.

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

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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.
May 1, AI - key trends and developments. An evening event in Sydney, presented by the Swedish Australia Chamber of Commerce.
May 3, Financial reporting on climate-related commitments. A webinar hosted by the AASB, in collaboration with CPA Australia and CA ANZ.
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
The Australian Energy Market Operator has a vacancy for a Brisbane-based sustainability lead.
The Central Adelaide Waste and Recycling Authority is recruiting a chief executive officer.
Commbank is hiring a Sydney-based product manager, home buying (climate solutions).
DCCEEW is recruiting an assistant director and a senior program officer for its Marinus Link team.
The Southern Tasmanian Regional Waste Authority is seeking a waste program manager.
Ventia is hiring a Melbourne-based climate lead.
Company news and resources
A tourism operator in Norway will convert its fleet of six Cessna floatplanes to battery-electric powertrains supplied by La Trobe Valley-based Dovetail Electric Aviation, reports GreenAir News.

The Cessnas will be converted from 2026. Dovetail is separately developing a hydrogen-electric propulsion system with a greater flight range.
Latrobe University will source 100% of its electricity from renewables by 2028, under a Power Purchasing Agreement with renewables company Iberdrola that was coordinated by Energetics.
A majority (58%) of shareholders have rejected Woodside's climate transition action plan and 2023 progress report.

 The Biden administration has announced the formation of a new White House Climate and Trade Task Force that will have three priorities:

  1. Develop climate and trade policies that effectively address carbon leakage, carbon dumping, and embodied carbon in general.
  2. Ensure there is credible, robust, and granular data to implement climate and trade policies.
  3. Identify additional actions to allow domestic and foreign producers to thrive.

If the global trade of goods was its own country, it would be the second-largest carbon polluter in the world after China, US climate envoy John Podesta said, when announcing the Task Force.

"The US alone imported over 1 gigaton of emissions from traded products—just in the year 2019," he said. "That's the same amount of emissions we expect to reduce in 2030 thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law."

The International Sustainability Standards Board has announced it will start research projects on disclosures about risks and opportunities associated with nature and with human capital.

The research projects will focus on the common information needs of investors in assessing whether and how these risks and opportunities could reasonably be expected to affect a company's prospects.

"Through the research projects, the ISSB will assess and define the limitations with current disclosure in these areas, identifying possible solutions and decide whether standard setting is required," the organisation said.

Battery deployment in the power sector more than doubled last year, but there needs to be a sixfold increase in global energy storage to enable the world to meet 2030 targets, according to the International Energy Agency.

A new Gross Domestic Climate Risk Dataset, produced by XDI, for the first time ranks more than 2,600 jurisdictions around the world in 2050, according to modelled projections of damage to the built environment from extreme weather and climate change.

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