ESG Snapshot: Issue 45

ESG Snapshot: Issue 45

Highlights in this week's issue include:

  • Line up. VicGrid plans to significantly boost payments to landholders hosting transmission lines.
  • In scope. The NSW EPA has become the first EPA in Australia to release detailed proposals to comprehensively regulate carbon emissions.
  • Charge up. The federal and WA government have released new battery plans.
  • Offset failures. An EPBC audit has uncovered high levels of non-compliance with EPBC biodiversity offset conditions.
  • Virtual subsidy. NSW is offering small business and households battery subsidies, with the maximum benefit linked to joining a virtual power plant.
  • In the zone. The CEFC's largest investment to date will help develop a Renewable Energy Zone.
  • Steel yourself. The SA government has confirmed the date for launching a green iron supply chain tender process.
  • Sunk costs. The Queensland government has vetoed Glencore's plans for a carbon capture and storage project.
  • International news. Tech for nature, pension fund versus Exxon, the World Bank estimates carbon market revenue, and more.

Interested in working for the Bank of Queensland, Boral, GHD, or McConnell Dowell? Check out this issue's jobs!

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


A DCCEEW audit of compliance with EPBC biodiversity offset requirements has found 14% of 222 approved projects were non-compliant or potentially non-compliant with their biodiversity offset obligations.

The report says a subsequent desktop audit of an additional 120 approved projects with high environmental impact found 25% had not, or potentially had not, secured the biodiversity offsets that the terms of their approval required.

The CEFC has announced its single largest transaction - a $490 million commitment to NSW EnergyCo to accelerate the delivery of grid infrastructure in the Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone.

EnergyCo estimates the finance agreement has the potential to deliver as much as a nominal $240 million in benefits to NSW electricity consumers in the form of lower project costs over the 20-year tenure of the loan.

The CEFC commitment will lower the overall financing costs, and will also support the acquisition of biodiversity offsets.

Consultation opportunity - transport. The federal government has released a consultation roadmap on achieving net zero in the transport sector.

Australia's transport sector is the third largest source of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, amounting to 21% of national emissions in 2023. Since 2005, transport sector greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 19%.

A webinar will take place on 4 June, and comments on the consultation roadmap are due by 26 July.

The CSIRO's final GenCost report reaffirms that renewables, including associated storage and transmission costs, remain the lowest cost, new build technology out to 2050.

GenCost found nuclear is not economically competitive with renewables and the total development time in Australia for large or small-scale nuclear, is at least 15 years.

The report includes a Frequently Asked Questions section at Appendix D.

The government has released more details on how it will allocate $63.8 million announced in the Budget for measures to reduce agriculture emissions.

The largest allocation - $30.8 million over four years - will go towards outreach and education initiatives.

The next largest allocation, of $28.7 million over 10 years, will go to improved greenhouse gas accounting in the agriculture and land sector.

Consultation opportunity - oil and gas. The Department of Industry, Science and Resources has released a discussion paper on removing offshore oil and gas infrastructure. Comments are due by 19 July.

NOPSEMA, the offshore oil and gas regulator, has released new Environment Plan consultation guidelines, which take into account recent Federal Court judgments.

The Australian Energy Market Operator has published an update to its Electricity Statement of Opportunities (ESOO), which forecasts reliability gaps in all mainland regions of the NEM over the outlook period.

Compared to the 2023 ESOO central scenario, reliability risks have increased in NSW and Victoria from FY25 to FY28, and increased in South Australia in FY27.

"Federal and state government programs, actionable transmission developments, orchestrated consumer investments and demand flexibility have the potential to address the majority of forecast reliability risks," AEMO says.

Reliability risks have increased in NSW due to delays to battery projects and revised demand assumptions, AEMO says, with Victoria's increased risks due to mothballed generators in SA, and transmission line limitations.

The federal government has released a National Battery Strategy, which notes that Australia mined about 45% of the world's lithium in 2023, but makes less than 1% of global battery materials or components.

The $523.2 million Battery Breakthrough Initiative, announced in the Budget, is a cornerstone element of the new strategy.

Organisations including Clorox, Coles, Woolworths, and the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation were among those giving evidence at a hearing last Thursday conducted by a Senate committee inquiry into greenwashing.

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has awarded Saving Native Species grants totalling $24 million to 61 projects.

The Clean Energy Council has released a report by Egis Consulting on the Levelised Cost of Electricity, which compares the cost of nuclear and renewables.

Open consultations:


The Department of Environment, Science and Innovation has determined the CTSCo Surat Basin Carbon Capture and Storage Project is not suitable to proceed due to potential impacts on groundwater resources in the Great Artesian Basin.

The project was rejected because the CO2 would have been injected into an unconfined aquifer, and the CO2 could migrate.

Open consultations:

New South Wales

Consultation opportunity - assessing and managing carbon emissions from new projects. Proponents of large-emitting projects would have to provide much more detailed information about their potential emissions, and their alignment with government targets, under two new EPA draft documents.

The requirements are described in a proposed Climate Change Assessment Requirements and an accompanying Greenhouse Gas Assessment Guide for Large Emitters.

Proponents of new or modified projects will have to conduct a greenhouse gas assessment report containing specified information, and prepare a greenhouse gas mitigation plan, as well as a climate change mitigation and adaptation plan.

They will also have to demonstrate they will be adopting a hierarchy of actions to avoid, reduce or substitute emissions, before using carbon credits.

The requirements will apply to facilities expected to emit at least 25,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas annually. Proponents expecting their facility to emit more than 100,000 tonnes annually will need to have their assessment report independently reviewed.

Eventually, all EPA licensees will have to prepare climate change mitigation and adaptation plans. Comments are due by 1 July.

The state government has signed an agreement with Origin Energy to operate the Eraring coal-fired power plant - which provides about 18% of the state's electricity - until August 2027.

Under the arrangement, the state government will underwrite Origin against a share of its potential financial loss from extending operations at Eraring.

Origin had previously announced it intended to close Eraring as early as August 2025.

The state government has announced it will subsidise the installation of small business and household batteries through its Peak Demand Reduction Scheme.

It will offer subsidies of between $1,600 and $2,400. In addition, if the battery is connected to a Virtual Power Plant, an additional incentive of between $500 and $800 can be claimed over a three-year period.


Consultation opportunity - community benefits. VicGrid has released a draft Renewable Energy Zone Community Benefits Plan, with comments are due by 16 June.

Under the proposed plan, landholders who host new transmission infrastructure will receive $8,000 per kilometre annually, for 25 years, on top of existing compensation arrangements.

Benefits at the same rate will also be paid into REZ Community Energy Funds that will support energy-related projects in REZ host regions.

One-off payments will also be made to significantly impacted neighbours, up to a maximum of $40,000.

Open consultations:

The state government has awarded a $1.27 million grant to Tyrecycle for a facility upgrade that will allow it to produce tyre-derived fuel.

A formal Expressions of Interest process for companies to partner in developing a green iron industry and supply chain in South Australia will open in June, the state government has confirmed.

The EOI will seek interest from companies to jointly investigate the development of a hydrogen-based direct reduction iron (DRI) plant in South Australia before the end of the decade.

A recent study commissioned by the state government concluded that a vertically integrated production model, in which a single entity controls all stages of the green iron value chain, from renewable energy and hydrogen supply to final iron production, could produce iron for $678 per tonne.

In contrast, if different entities control various parts of the supply chain, the costs are likely be up to $862 per tonne.

Western Australia

The state government has released a revised state Battery and Critical Minerals Strategy, which is far more detailed than the 2020 version.

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.
May 29, Green freight while you wait. A webinar hosted by the Queensland Transport and Logistics Council.
May 29, Meeting your corporate sustainability targets with renewable PPAs. A webinar hosted by the Business Renewables Centre 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 4, Corporate renewable energy buyers group 2024. A webinar hosted by the Business Renewables Centre Australia.
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.
August 23, Climate governance forum. An event in Sydney, hosted by the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
October 10, Serving solutions: Building sustainable food systems. A conference in Melbourne, presented by Food Frontier.
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 Bank of Queensland is recruiting a senior manager, sustainability strategy and risk.
Boral has a vacancy for a Sydney-based sustainability analyst.
GHD is recruiting a Perth-based decarbonisation consultant.
John Holland is hiring a Sydney-based senior environment and approvals advisor.
McConnell Dowell is seeking an Adelaide-based environmental and sustainability advisor.

Company news and resources
Frontier Energy, which is developing what has the potential to eventually be WA's largest standalone renewables project, has issued its latest sustainability report, which notes that it was unsuccessful in being shortlisted for the Hydrogen Headstart program.

"The company remains committed to the green hydrogen industry in the long term," the report says.
International Paper has published its 2023 sustainability report.
Microsoft has published its 2024 sustainability report, which provides an update on its 2030 goals to become carbon negative, water positive, and to protect more land than it uses.
Xero has released a climate appendix to its annual report.

Tech companies Google, Meta, Microsoft and Salesforce have formed a new alliance called Symbiosis, which aims to contract by 2030 for the advance purchase of up to 20 million tonnes of abatement from "the next generation of nature-based carbon removal projects".

"The goal of the Coalition is to send a strong demand signal to accelerate the development of high-impact, science-based restoration projects that will advance progress on global climate goals," the companies said.

Californian pension fund CalPERS has announced that it will vote in opposition to all 12 members of the Exxon's board of directors and its chief executive, because the company hasn't dropped a lawsuit against climate activist shareholders.

In January, Exxon launched legal proceedings to bar a climate resolution from activist investors Arjuna Capital and Follow This from going before its AGM, which will be held on May 29.

Last Wednesday, a US judge ruled the lawsuit against Arjuna Capital could proceed, because it is US-based, but held the company could not pursue its claim against Netherlands-based Follow This.

New data released by CDP shows that of 186 companies that made high-quality disclosures on their management of deforestation in 2023, only 64 reported that at least one commodity supply chain was 100% free of deforestation or forest conversion.

In 2023, carbon pricing revenues reached a record $104 billion, according to the World Bank's annual State and Trends of Carbon Pricing report.

There are now 75 carbon pricing instruments in operation worldwide. Over half of the collected revenue was used to fund climate and nature-related programs.

The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, along with Corporate Action Japan (CAJ) and Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM), have announced the co-filing of a set of three shareholder proposals asking Nippon Steel Corporation to improve its decarbonisation strategy and its disclosures on climate lobbying. 

Mizuho Financial Group will provide A$9.6 billion in financing for the production and supply of hydrogen and related technologies by 2030, the bank has announced.

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