ESG Snapshot: Issue 47

ESG Snapshot: Issue 47

Highlights in this week's issue include:

  • Waste levy increase. NSW is canvassing views on an increase in waste levies, and acknowledges it has ramifications for other states.
  • 'Red tape bomb'. Coalition criticises climate disclosure regime.
  • $7 billion. Treasury has issued its first Green Bond, and says green bonds accessible to retail investors will be available next year.
  • Made in Australia. WA's EPA says a hazardous waste storage facility should only be allowed to accept Australian waste.
  • Mini-CEFC. A NSW Bill would establish a new body with $1 billion to invest in clean energy.
  • Cornerstone investor. The Queensland Investment Corporation will be a key investor in a new Pollination climate and nature fund.
  • Below threshold levels. An appeal against a WA onshore gas project, made on greenhouse gas grounds, has failed.
  • Acquisition. The world's largest specialty sustainability consultancy has acquired leading climate and energy consultancy Energetics. (Company news).
  • Four point plan. Four things must happen to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, says UN Secretary-General António Guterres (International news).

Interested in working for APRA, Aurecon, the Climate Change Authority, or Energetics? Check out this issue's jobs!

ESG Snapshot - powered by the Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia and curated by Earthed.


The House of Representatives has passed the Treasury Laws Amendment (Financial Market Infrastructure and Other Measures) Bill, which will phase in a mandatory climate disclosure regime for large businesses.

Shadow Treasurer Angus Taylor unsuccessfully moved a motion stating that most of Australia's trading partners do not require the reporting of scope 3 emissions, and the approach to disclosure in the Bill constitutes "a red tape bomb" that would ultimately raise prices.

The Bill now goes to the Senate.

Debate is continuing in the House of Representatives on the government's recently introduced Nature Positive Bills. Shadow climate minister Ted O'Brien unsuccessfully moved a motion stating that the bills don't meaningfully improve Australia's laws, and the penalties are excessive.

The federal government has raised $7 billion through its inaugural green bond, with the funds to go towards projects including green hydrogen hubs, community batteries and clean transport, and programs to conserve biodiversity.

The Australian Office of Financial Management's bond issue was over‑subscribed with more than $22 billion in bids from 105 investor institutions across Australia, Asia, Europe and North America.

The AOFM has advised that exchange-traded Green Treasury Bonds, which are accessible to retail investors, are expected to be available next year.

A series of videos about Treasury's Green Bond Program is available here.

DFAT will be among those giving evidence on 19 June to a Joint Standing Committee on Treaties inquiry into the Australia- Tuvalu agreement that deals with climate change cooperation and migration.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has told The Australian that a Coalition government would remain committed to net zero, but not the existing legislated 2030 emissions reduction target, or a 2035 target.

Meanwhile, in a speech to the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dutton said the Coalitions energy goals are "Cheaper power. Consistent power. Cleaner power".

 This must involve an immediate ramping-up of domestic gas production and "next generation nuclear technologies", he said.

The Clean Energy Council has released a new report on The future of long-duration energy storage, which discusses emerging storage technologies -compressed air energy storage, thermal energy storage and redox flow batteries.

Meanwhile, a separate CEC report shows Q1 2024 saw:

  • Large-scale renewable generation projects continue to bounce back from the lows of 2023, with five projects totalling 895 MW of capacity reaching financial commitment during Q1 2024.
  • Q1 2024 was the fourth consecutive quarter in which energy storage projects secured financial investment commitments over $1 billion.
  • Investment levels in generation projects will need to increase further with financial commitments of at least 6 - 7 GW of new large-scale generation projects needed in 2024 (and successive years) to meet the Federal Government’s target of 82 per cent renewables by 2030.

Carbon project developer Agriprove has recently registered six new soil carbon projects in Queensland and South Australia.

Australia could have long-term comparative advantages for the production of green metals, says a new government discussion paper on Unlocking green metals opportunities. Comments are due by 14 July.

The CEFC has made a $30 million financial commitment to support Team Global Express, one of Australia’s largest multi-modal transport and logistics operators, to accelerate the electrification of its truck fleet.

Team Global Express will use the finance to deploy more than 300 battery electric trucks, courier vans, hybrid refrigerated trucks and mobile charging units across sites in Melbourne, Sydney and Queensland over the next three years.

CSIRO, is calling on SMEs working on clean energy solutions to apply to participate in its Innovate to Grow program, which gives them access to experts to help navigate technical and business challenges.

CSIRO has partnered with Trailblazer for Recycling and Clean Energy (TRaCE) to deliver the program, and applications must be submitted by 23 June. 

An update of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions for the December 2023 quarter shows 432.9 million tonnes were emitted in the 2023 calendar year, a decrease of 0.5% compared with 2022.

DCCEEW and Australia Border Force have intercepted several containers of baled tyres, which cannot legally be exported from Australia.

The Climate Change Authority's 2035 targets review has received submissions from organisations including:

  • The Centre for Policy Development, which says the Safeguard should be "consistently expanded" until it operates as an economy-wide carbon price, and which recommends a 2035 target of a 71% to 90% emissions reduction from 2005 levels.
  • ACOSS, which rejects as inadequate the Authority's suggestion that Australia's 2035 emissions reduction target to be a 65% to 75% reduction on 2005 levels. o be a 65%-75% reduction on 2005 levels.
  • the Carbon Market Institute, which says the Authority should provide advice on planning and regulation to facilitate a fossil fuel phase out, in partnership with Australia's key trading partners.

Click here for new submissions and reports

Click here for open consultations


The Queensland Investment Corporation will be a cornerstone investor in a Climate and Nature Impact Venture Fund launched by global investment and advisory firm Pollination.

The Fund, which will be open to wholesale and institutional investors only, will seek to invest in a portfolio of early stage climate and nature solutions. It is targeting final close of $150 million and aims to make investments of between $4 million and $12 million.

The Fund will focus on investments in Australia and some other OECD economies, and is expected to start making investments later this year.

The state Budget will be handed down tomorrow, with Premier Steven Miles signalling "a record $26 billion invested in the renewable energy and jobs plan over the next four years – a boost from the $19 billion in last years Budget".

Grant opportunity. The state government is offering grants of up to $10 million for recycling projects, with a focus on projects that process mixed commercial and industrial waste, end-of-life renewable energy infrastructure, and end-of-life electric and electronic products. A total of $45 million is on offer.

Open consultations

  • Reusing ferrous slag. The state government is consulting on a draft end of waste code for ferrous slag. Comments are due by 1 July.
  • Reef water quality. The state government is conducting a survey for its review of the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan, with responses due by 30 September.
New South Wales

The state government is considering gradually increasing waste levies, above the inflation rate, to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill.

A new EPA discussion paper on the review notes that, previously, when NSW levies have increased, more waste has been transported interstate, and it will discuss the issue with other jurisdictions.

The waste levies paper also says the EPA:

  • will examine ways to strengthen the waste levy regulatory framework to prevent illegal activity, including through improved waste tracking.
  • will consider the merits of removing the levy on the disposal of asbestos-contaminated waste, to remove the incentive for illegal dumping of it.

Comments are due by 15 July.

The state government has also released three draft Food Organics and Garden Organics (FOGO) Mandates, as part of its goal of having net zero emissions from organics in landfill by 2030.

Certain businesses, including large supermarkets, institutions and hospitality businesses will be required to have a source-separated food organics collection from 1 July 2025.

Large supermarkets will be required to report on surplus food donations to food charities from 1 July 2025. FOGO collection services will have to be in place for all NSW households by 1 July 2030. 

 Comments close on 15 July.

Statutory development - energy security. The government has introduced the Energy Security Corporation Bill. The Energy Security Corporation will be seeded with $1 billion, and will co-finance clean technology projects that improve the reliability, security and sustainability of electricity supply.

The ESC is modelled on the CEFC and will offer concessional debt financing, and make equity investments. It will have the capacity to collaborate with the CEFC. 

"While the grid is decarbonising, we need to make sure the system can provide enough power to keep the lights on," said Minister for Emergency Services Jihad Dib when introducing the Bill. "Electricity needs to remain secure and reliable."

Statutory development - clean energy future. The government has introduced the Energy Legislation Amendment (Clean Energy Future) Bill, which amends five pieces of legislation. Measures in the Bill:

  • give legislative effect to the Strategic Benefits Payment Scheme that will provide landowners hosting transmission infrastructure with an extra $200,000 per kilometre, augmenting the existing one-off payment.
  • introduce an accelerated regulatory approval process for electricity system security infrastructure.
  • clarify arrangements for giving green hydrogen producers a 90% discount on electricity network charges.
  • exempt electricity purchased by battery facilities from liability under the Energy Savings Scheme and Peak Demand Reduction Scheme.
  • make adjustments to pipeline legislation in readiness for the transport of hydrogen and renewable fuels.

The state government has released a guide to the draft Native Vegetation Regulatory Map, and instructions on how to use the map viewer.

The state government has placed on exhibition the referral for the 1.3GW Pottinger wind farm, which is a joint venture between AGL and Someva Renewables. The $2.2 billion project, which would include a battery energy storage system, would be built near Hay.

The project is part of the Pottinger Energy Park, which would also include a 300MW solar farm.

Open consultations:

  • 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. Comments are due by 1 July.

Consultation opportunity - energy efficiency standards for rentals. Draft energy efficiency regulations would require that rental properties have specified thermal comfort and energy efficiency measures in place when new leases are signed, with effect from from 30 October next year.

The regulations would require that rental properties have ceiling insulation, fixed heating and cooling, draught protection, efficient hot water systems, and efficient shower heads. Comments close on 1 July.

Jess Young has been appointed as a commissioner of the Essential Services Commission. Young is currently the Director of Networks and DER Integration, at the Victorian Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action, and was previously a director at Deloitte Access Economics. 

Open consultations:

Energy efficiency grants. A total of $20 million will be offered in Round 2 of the Economic Recovery Fund, providing up to 8,000 small businesses and non-profits with grants of up to $50,000 to invest in energy efficient equipment. Applications are expected to open in August. The grants will be offered through the Office for Small and Family Business.

Epic Energy has made an EPBC referral for the Whyalla Hydrogen Pipeline (WHP), which would transport hydrogen from the proposed Whyalla hydrogen facility to Port Bonython, covering a distance of about 43 kilometres.

Western Australia

A proposal to increase gate tonnage at Australia's only commercial repository for Class IV and V hazardous waste has been recommended for approval by the EPA, subject to conditions that ensure it only accepts waste generated in Australia.

Tellus Holdings' Sandy Ridge facility can currently accept 100,000 tonnes of waste annually, but is seeking approval to accept 280,000 tonnes annually.

A company has made an EPBC referral to establish a green steel mill at Collie. The electric arc furnace plant would recycle 500,000 tonnes of WA scrap steel annually - all of which is currently exported.

"In doing so, the plant will create for the first time, a true a circular economy for steel in WA while abating between 200,000 and 800,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per annum compared to existing methods of steel production," the referral says.

Acting on the advice of the Appeals Convenor, Environment Minister Reece Whitby has determined that the EPA was justified in not requiring assessment of a proposed onshore conventional gas development project.

The Appeals Convenor found that carbon emissions from Strike Energy's proposed South Erragulla conventional gas development would be under threshold levels.

The state government has named Curtin University as the operator of the state's new GreenTech Hub, which will help build state-wide capability and capacity in green technologies and services. The hub will be jointly funded by the state government and Chevron.

The state government has named the six members of its overhauled Planning Commission.

The final report is now available for Project Symphony, an ARENA-backed pilot program that established a virtual power plant involving more than 500 households.

Northern Territory

The Territory government is offering businesses grants of up to $20,000 to invest in equipment or technology which improves recycling. A total of $500,000 is available, and applications close on 30 June next year, or sooner if funds are exhausted.

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.
June 11 to 14, Australian Energy Week. An event in Melbourne, hosted by Quest Events.
June 14, NABERS + CBD 2024. In Sydney and virtual, hosted by the NSW government and NABERS.
June 18, 2024 Australian dialogue on business and human rights. An event in Sydney, hosted by the UN Global Compact Network.
July 10, Aligning Policy Engagement with Net Zero - a spotlight on Australia. A webinar hosted by groups including Better Futures Australia and InfluenceMap.
August 23, Climate governance forum. An event in Sydney, hosted by the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
August 27 and 28, Impact X Melbourne summit. An event on the future of ESG data and disclosure.
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
APRA is recruiting a risk specialist, climate risk.
The Climate Change Authority is recruiting a general manager, corporate.
Queensland's Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is hiring a director, climate policy.
The federal Department of Industry, Science and Resources is recruiting a senior offshore electricity infrastructure officer.
Energetics is hiring graduate climate and energy consultants, based in various cities.
Victoria's Yarra Ranges Council has a vacancy for a head of climate.
Company news and resources
The world's largest specialist sustainability consultancy, ERM, has acquired leading Australian climate risk and energy transition consultancy Energetics.

The acquisition will result in a combined climate change advisory organisation comprising more than 150 people.

Energetics chief executive Dr Mary Stewart will continue to lead the Energetics team, and Stewart, along with Andrew Tipping, Bahador Tari, Michael Bosnich, Gilles Walgenwitz, and Anita Stadler, will become ERM Partners. 

"Throughout this sale process, we were determined to find a buyer whose ambitions for sustainability, addressing climate risks and supporting the clean energy transition align with our own," Stewart said. "In ERM, we have a great match."
Rio Tinto will invest $215 million to develop a research and development facility south of Perth to further assess its BioIron low-carbon ironmaking process.

BioIron uses raw biomass and microwave energy, instead of coal, to convert Pilbara iron ore to metallic iron in the steelmaking process.

When combined with the use of renewable energy and carbon-circulation by fast-growing biomass, it could reduce carbon emissions by up to 95% compared with the current blast furnace method, the company says.

Limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees "is still just about possible", UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a climate change speech in the US, on World Environment Day.

It all depends on decisions taken by political leaders during this decade and "especially in the next 18 months", the Secretary-General said.

"Global emissions need to fall 9% every year until 2030 to keep the 1.5-degree limit alive.  But they are heading in the wrong direction.  Last year they rose by 1%," he said.

Guterres said four changes are essential in order to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.

Firstly, he called for "huge cuts in emissions", led by the G20.

This will in part require high-integrity carbon markets with rules consistent with limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, he said. And he also encouraged scientists and engineers, with government support, "to focus urgently on carbon dioxide removal and storage — to deal safely and sustainably with final emissions from the heavy industries hardest to clean". 

Secondly, Guterres called for a much stronger focus on adaptation.

Thirdly, he emphasised the need for financial reform, including "an effective price on carbon and tax the windfall profits of fossil fuel companies".

"Fourth and finally, we must directly confront those in the fossil fuel industry who have shown relentless zeal for obstructing progress — over decades," he said. 

A Bloomberg article on the Science-Based Targets initiative and carbon credits, has prompted a rebuttal from SBTi.

All G7 countries, except for Japan, are either on track to phase out coal by 2030 at the latest or have taken major steps towards doing so in the case of Germany and the US, according to a new report from climate think tank E3G.

However, the G7 Power systems scorecard shows a significant gap exists in clear policies or targets for phasing out unabated gas in line with net-zero power commitments. 

Nature Action 100, a global investor-led alliance focused on reversing nature and biodiversity loss, has named 11 experts who will serve on its first Science Council. The Council will provide the Nature Action 100 Technical Advisory Group with expert guidance and support. 

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