ESG Snapshot: Issue 44

ESG Snapshot: Issue 44

Highlights in this week's issue include:

  • New climate inquiry. The Greens have instigated a Senate climate risk and insurance inquiry.
  • Grants for large gas users. Victoria is offering large energy users up to $66,000 to help them switch away from fossil gas.
  • Hydrogen-ready power plant approved. Squadron Energy's newly approved NSW power plant will be capable of running on up to 25% hydrogen.
  • No Authority. Coalition senators say there is no need for a new Net Zero Economy Authority.
  • Climate and coal ruling. The Federal Court has rejected environment group challenges against EPBC approvals for two coal projects.
  • Boosting carbon removals. Two new papers examine what's needed to establish a large-scale Australian carbon removals industry.
  • FOI case fails. A company has lost a Federal Court case that turned on DCCEEW's decision to grant the Australian Conservation Foundation access to EPBC-related documents.
  • International news. New reports deal with critical minerals, marine natural capital, European climate policy, and lobbying by automakers.

Interested in working as climate change director at the Future Fund, or as biodiversity information director at Environment Information Australia, or with Aldi or Vinnies? Check out this issue's jobs! See newly listed events on agriculture and renewables, and on Victoria's energy efficiency scheme.

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


A Treasury guide to Future Made in Australia spending and initiatives contained in the Budget is available here.

A Treasury supporting paper on the National Interest Framework that underpins the Future Made in Australia initiative is available here.

An outline of Budget energy initiatives, prepared by Energetics, is available here. BCSDA members can access a summary of Budget initiatives here.

Click here for more Budget details

Overall, the Budget proposes expenditure of $22.7 billion over the next decade "to build a Future Made in Australia". Major allocations announced in the Budget include:

  • $7.1 billion over 11 years from 2023–24 to support the refining and processing of critical minerals, and $8 billion over ten years to support the production of renewable hydrogen.
  • $1.5 billion over seven years to ARENA to "supercharge" its investments in renewable energy and related technologies, and $1.7 billion over ten years for the Future Made in Australia Innovation Fund, to be administered by ARENA. 
  • $1.4 billion over 11 years to support the manufacturing of clean energy technologies, primarily the Solar Sunshot program, and $549 million over eight years to support battery manufacturing.
  • $182.7 million over eight years from 2023–24 to strengthen approval processes to support delivery of the Government’s FMA agenda.

    The funding includes $96.6 million over four years for DCCEEW to strengthen environmental approvals for renewable energy, transmission, and critical minerals projects, deliver additional regional plans, and undertake targeted scientific studies to improve the environmental data used in decision-making.

    It also includes $20.7 million over seven years to improve community engagement and social licence outcomes, through the permanent establishment of the Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner, and the development of voluntary national developer standards, as well as the development of a regulatory reform package to ensure benefits flow to regional communities affected by the energy transition. 
  • $519.1 million over eight years from the Future Drought Fund for initiatives that provide improved support to farmers and communities to manage drought and adapt to climate change. 
  • $399.1 million over five years in additional resourcing for the Net Zero Economy Authority, the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, and the Fair Work Commission to promote orderly and positive economic transformation associated with decarbonisation.

    This includes $209.3 million over four years to support workers affected by the net zero transition, and $134.2 million over four years to provide workforce transition support.
  • $218.4 million over eight years to support a Future Made in Australia through the development of a skilled and diverse workforce. 
  • $154.5 million over six years to implement the New Vehicle Efficiency Standard, including $84.5 million over five years to establish a regulator that will administer the Standard, establish a credit trading platform and undertake compliance activities. The allocation also includes $60 million over four years to establish charging infrastructure at automotive businesses that sell and service EVs. 
  • $150 million over four years for contributions to international climate financing funds, including $100 million over three years for the Pacific Resilience Facility, an initiative endorsed by the Pacific Islands Leaders Forum, and $50 million over two years for the UN Change Green Climate Fund. 
  • $63.8 million over ten years from 2024–25 to support initial emission reduction efforts in the agriculture and land sectors as part of Australia's transition to net zero by 2050. 
  • $76.2 million over five years to support Australia's continued engagement in international climate change and energy transition issues, including through the International Energy Agency, G20 and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and for its bid to co-host the COP31 climate talks. 
  • $48.0 million over four years to implement further reforms to the Australian Carbon Credit Unit scheme, including provision for funding for a new Carbon Abatement Integrity Committee.
  • $47.7 million over four years to maximise the consumer and community benefits of the energy transition.
  • $40.9 million over two years from 2024–25 to continue implementing the Nature Positive Plan, building on previous Budget measures. The allocation includes $17.6 million over two years to establish and commence operation of the Nature Repair Market. 
  • $32.6 million over four years to investigate regional cooperation on carbon sequestration.
  • $17.3 million over four years to promote the development of sustainable finance markets in Australia, including $10 million over four years for additional resourcing for ASIC "to investigate and take enforcement action against market participants engaging in greenwashing and other sustainability-related financial misconduct". 
  • $23 million in FY25 to continue delivery of the government's circular economy policy, program and legislative functions, with the possibility of more funding once a new national circular economy framework is developed.

Statutory development - vehicle efficiency standards. Parliament has passed legislation establishing vehicle efficiency standards.

The New Vehicle Efficiency Standard Bill will reduce CO2 emissions from new cars, SUVs, utes and vans, and stimulate the provision of low and zero emissions vehicles. It will be underpinned by a trading scheme for emissions credits.

Opposition members of a Senate committee inquiry into a Bill that would establish the Net Zero Economy Authority have recommended that the proposed legislation not be passed.

The proposed new Authority would duplicate the role of organisations such as the CEFC and ARENA, and various state bodies, the Coalition members of the committee said.

The majority of committee members have recommended that the Bill be passed.

The Senate has agreed to a Greens motion to establish a Select Committee on the Impact of Climate Risk on Insurance Premiums and Availability, with a reporting date of 19 November. The inquiry home page is here.

Court ruling - climate change. The Federal Court has rejected appeals by the Environment Council of Central Queensland against decisions by the federal Environment Minister to grant EPBC approval for two coal mine extensions.

Court ruling - FOI. Walker Group Holdings, the proponent of the proposed Toondah Harbour project, has lost a Federal Court case in which it challenged a decision by DCCEEW to grant an FOI request the Australian Conservation Foundation for access to certain documents.

Walker Group last month withdrew its application for EPBC approval of the Toondah Harbour project after Environment Minister Tanya Plibersik announced her intention to refuse approval.

A DCCEEW-commissioned review has concluded that comments regarding the Environmental Defenders Office contained in a recent judgment do not provide a reasonable basis to conclude that the EDO had breached terms of its grant agreement.

The government's Business Grants Hub has separately advised that the EDO has complied with grant conditions.

Statutory development - modern slavery. Parliament has passed the government's Modern Slavery Amendment (Australian Anti-Slavery Commissioner) Bill.

The Bill establishes the role of Australian Anti-Slavery Commissioner, as an independent statutory office-holder within the Attorney-General's portfolio.

A Senate committee inquiry into greenwashing will hold a further hearing on 24 May.

The Greens have referred to a Senate committee a Government Bill that is intended to strengthen controls on the importation of illegal timber.

The Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee will conduct the inquiry into the Illegal Logging Prohibition Amendment (Strengthening Measures to Prevent Illegal Timber Trade) Bill, and will report by 20 June.

The Energy Efficiency Council has released a summary of discussions at its inaugural industrial decarbonisation summit.

The Sydney-based Climate Recovery Institute has released a white paper on building an atmospheric carbon removal industry, and another on catalysing a carbon removal industry.

"Each jurisdiction that wishes to have a carbon removal industry at a Paris-aligned scale needs to lay the foundations urgently and use well targeted mechanisms to accelerate its development," the Institute says.

The Australian Sustainable Finance Institute will launch the first round of public consultation on the development of an Australian sustainable finance taxonomy on Tuesday 28 May. Registrations are now being accepted for the launch webinar.

Open consultations:


The state government has released the findings of a GHD report on a review of Queensland's koala regulations.

The government has also committed to strengthen the regulations through amendments to Planning Regulation 2017 and Nature Conservation (Koala) Conservation Plan 2017.

Open consultations:

New South Wales

The Independent Planning Commission has approved a proposal by a Squadron Energy subsidiary for a 64MW gas-fired firming power station and associated hydrogen generation plant at a site north of Dubbo.

The $190 million project will initially operate on fossil gas, but will be capable of operating on a blend of up to 25% hydrogen, as well as on biofuels.

Approval conditions include a requirement that the company report every three yeas on the feasibility of going beyond a 25% blend of hydrogen.

Court ruling - forests. The NSW Court of Appeal has ruled that an environmental group, South East Forest Rescue, has standing to launch civil enforcement proceedings against the NSW Forestry Corporation for alleged offences.

The Appeal Court decision overturns an earlier decision by the Land and Environment Court.

The state government has released First Nations Guidelines for the Hunter-Central Coast and the South West Renewable Energy Zones (REZs), augmenting its earlier Guideline for the Central West Orana REZ.

The EPA has amended Clean-up Notices issued to Coles and Woolworths, giving them an additional 10 months to find ways to keep stockpiled soft plastics out of landfill. 

Coles and Woolworths moved more than 5,000 tonnes of soft plastic material to storage last year, following the collapse of the REDcycle scheme.


New grants for large gas users. Applications are being accepted from large gas users until 30 September to help fund feasibility studies into switching to efficient electric alternatives.

The Large Energy User Electrification Support Program will provide up to $60,000 per site – or $66,000 for regional sites that use between 10 and 100 terajoules of gas per year. 

The Governor has given Royal Assent to the Energy and Public Land Legislation Amendment (Enabling Offshore Wind Energy) Bill 2024, and the National Electricity (Victoria) Amendment (VicGrid) Bill 2024.

The state government has released a discussion paper on a proposed update of the Victorian Freight Plan.

The paper highlights the increasing occurrence of extreme events that can affect supply chains, and also discusses the freight sector's potential contribution to decarbonisation. Comments are due by 30 June.

South Australia has signed a clean energy letter of cooperation with the State of California, during a trip by Premier Peter Malinauskas to the United States.

Western Australia

The UNESCO World Heritage Centre has formally accepted the World Heritage nomination for the Murujuga Cultural Landscape, and it will now proceed to assessment, Environment Minister Reece Whitby has advised Parliament.

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.

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

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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 21, Budget wash-up. A webinar hosted by the Biodiversity Council.
May 22, Nature and biodiversity seminar. An event in Melbourne hosted by the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors.
May 23, Victorian Energy Upgrade seminar. An event in Melbourne hosted by the Energy Savings Institute of Australia.
May 29 and 30, Fourth annual Australian renewable energy zones conference. An event in Sydney, hosted by Informa.
May 29 and 30, Australian critical minerals conference 2024. An event in Brisbane.
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.
June 14, NABERS + CBD 2024. In Sydney and virtual, hosted by the NSW government and NABERS.
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.
November 7 and 8, Investor Group on Climate Change 2024 summit. An event in Melbourne, hosted by IGCC.
Jobs Board
The Clean Energy Regulator has a vacancy for a senior policy officer in its Guarantee of Origin Policy and Technical section.
Environment Information Australia (part of DCCEEW) is hiring a director, biodiversity information.
The Future Fund, Australia's sovereign wealth fund, is recruiting a director, climate change, to spearhead the integration of climate change strategies across our portfolio. The Future Fund managers more than $260 billion.
Perdaman is hiring a Perth-based environmental officer.
SA Water has a vacancy for a sustainability advisor.
Vinnies is hiring a Canberra-based manager of sustainability and reuse.
Company news and resources
Greening Australia has partnered with impact investment firm, Conscious Investment Management, on the first of a series of planned biodiverse environmental planting projects in Australia.

The first project will be on a 755-hectare property in Southern NSW, known as 'Dixieland', with plans to plant approximately 140,000 native trees and shrubs on the property in 2025. Restoration of the property is designed to benefit several nationally listed woodland bird species, and will contribute to the recovery of the critically endangered Monaro Tableland Cool Temperate Grassy Woodland vegetation community.
Tetra Pak has established 25 targets across its value chain, as part of a new Approach to Nature framework.

The targets include ensuring that by 2025 100% of its raw materials that have a significant land footprint originate from certified or controlled sources. The company will also ensure that by 2025 all its high water-impact suppliers report on water use and quality.

By 2030, it will eradicate the landfilling of waste from production sites, and it will also achieve a 50% reduction in water use in its processing lines (from a 2019 baseline).

New international reports:

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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