ESG Snapshot: Issue 48

ESG Snapshot: Issue 48

Highlights in this week's issue include:

  • New duties. Queensland's Parliament has passed a Bill that introduces a new environmental duty, and for the first time makes it an offence to breach a pre-existing duty.
  • $26 billion. Queensland's Budget has allocated billions of dollars to renewable energy projects over four years.
  • Reinvigorating the CBD. A federal scheme that has delivered large cuts in energy use for current participants is poised to be greatly expanded.
  • Dear Commissioner. The NSW Planning Minister has reminded the state's Independent Planning Commission to heed legislated emissions targets.
  • Carbon disclosure. The Australian Accounting Standards Board has issued climate-related papers ahead of next week's Board meeting.
  • Happy together. Queensland's new coexistence commission will help ensure cooperation among the resources, agriculture and renewables industries.
  • Fast-track green approval. The WA government says it has issued the first environmental approval coordinated by its new Green Energy Directorate.
  • 'Clear progress'. Banks and super funds are doing better at integrating nature risks into their decision-making, says the Australian Conservation Foundation. (See submissions and reports).
  • Compliance and credits. The need to comply with the Safeguard Mechanism has become the key driver of demand for ACCUs.
  • New greenhouse gas guidance. The NT government has revised its guidance on how carbon emissions should be dealt with in assessments.
  • International news. UK Labour's reveals climate plans, and the US Congress inquires into ESG "collusion".

Do you want to kick sustainability goals for the AFL? Or work for Energetics, Sandfire, or The Climate Reality Project? Check out this issue's jobs!

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


Consultation opportunity - commercial building energy efficiency disclosure. By 2035, information on the energy efficiency of most major types of commercial buildings would have to disclosed when they are offered for sale or lease, a DCCEEW consultation paper proposes.

The introduction of disclosure requirements could be followed by the introduction of minimum energy performance standards, the paper proposes.

Currently, the Commercial Building Disclosure (CBD) Program only requires energy efficiency information to be provided when commercial office spaces of 1,000 square metres or more are offered for sale or lease.

"Since 2010, there has been a 35% reduction in base building energy usage per square meter for disclosure-affected office buildings," the paper says, adding that it is estimated to have delivered $83 million in energy bill savings from 2010 to 2019.

A supporting paper by KPMG points out that non-residential buildings contribute around 10% of total emissions in the economy, representing a significant opportunity to decarbonise.

The suggested changes would require legislative amendments. Comments are due by 13 September.

In a related move, the government has released a report by consultancies Paper Giant and Arup that examines Barriers to building energy performance.

Santos, Inpex, SunCable, government officials, Indigenous and environmental groups will be among those giving evidence to a Senate inquiry into the NT Middle Arm development on today and tomorrow.

The federal government has declared an offshore wind zone in the Pacific Ocean off the Illawarra in NSW - marking the fourth offshore wind zone declared by the government. The final area for the zone is 1,022 km2 – a third less than was originally proposed.

Compliance with the Safeguard Mechanism has now become the primary driver of demand for ACCUs, according to the latest Quarterly carbon market report from the Clean Energy Regulator.

One million of the 1.2 million ACCUs surrendered to the Regulator and cancelled in the first quarter of 2024 were surrendered for compliance purposes, including 0.9 million ACCUs surrendered and cancelled for FY23 Safeguard compliance.

FY23 was the last compliance year before the start of the reformed Safeguard Mechanism.

In addition, Safeguard entities are continuing to accumulate ACCUs for use against future regulatory obligations, with ACCU holdings in Safeguard and Safeguard-related accounts totalling 19.6 million, half (51%) of total holdings, as at the end of March.

The report also says that the first quarter of this year set a Q1 record for approved large-scale clean energy generation, with 0.87GW of large-scale renewable power station capacity approved by the Regulator to generate LGCs.

In Q1 2024, 0.72GW of large-scale renewable power station capacity reached a final investment decision, the report adds.

Consultation opportunity - ACCU environmental plantings. DCCEEW has proposed re-making the ACCU method that allows carbon credits to be earned from environmental plantings projects, with some amendments. Comments are due by 15 July.

The Australian Accounting Standards Board, which is developing a climate disclosure standard, has released several climate-related Board papers ahead of its upcoming 26 June Board meeting.

Papers deal with issues including climate scenario analysis, scope 3, and carbon credits.

A new edition of the Global Nitrous Oxide (N₂O) Budget shows human-induced)N₂O emissions have increased by 40% in the past four decades, with the period between 2020-2022 showing an accelerated rate of growth. However, Australia's anthropogenic N₂O emissions have been stable over the past two decades.

The research was conducted by an international team of researchers, including CSIRO.

Agricultural production, due to the use of nitrogen fertilisers and animal manure, contributed 74% of total anthropogenic N₂O emissions in the last decade.

Consultation opportunity - pests of trees and timber. The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry is seeking feedback on a draft National action plan for pests of trees and timber. Survey responses are due by 5 July.

Agriculture Minister Murray Watt has awarded $20 million to 17 projects designed to protect and restore soil health.

Submissions to a Senate inquiry into the impact of climate risk on insurance are due by 2 July.

Click here for new submissions and reports

  • The Australian Conservation Foundation has issued an update of its 2022 report assessing how 10 banks and 10 super funds are addressing nature-related risks in their portfolios.

    "We found that both banks and super funds have made clear progress on understanding and integrating nature-related risks into their financial decision making," the report says. 
  • A new Clean Energy Council report proposes an optimal pathway for Australia to capitalise on the uptake of rooftop solar and batteries, through measures including a national energy productivity scheme.
  • The Climate Council has issued a report titled Powering past gas: An energy strategy that works.

Click here for open consultations


Statutory development - new environmental duties. Parliament has passed the Environmental Protection (Powers and Penalties) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2024, which makes significant changes to the state's main environment law.

The Bill for the first time makes it an offence to breach the state's existing general environmental duty in a way that results in serious or material harm.

It also introduces a new duty to restore the environment, which requires that, if an entity permits or causes contamination they must, as far as reasonably practicable, restore the environment to the condition it was in before the harm occurred.

The Bill is here and an explanatory note is here. The legislation was not opposed by the LNP.

Statutory development - coexistence. Queensland's Gasfields Commission will now be known as Coexistence Queensland, and it will have an expanded role in ensuring agriculture, resources, and renewables industries can work cooperatively, following the passage of the Mineral and Energy Resources and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2024

The Bill, which also amends the mining industry financial assurance scheme, is here and an explanatory note is here.

The state Budget has allocated $26 billion over four years to Queensland's energy transformation. Budget papers are available here.

A trio of clean energy projects proposed for Queensland have made EPBC referrals over the past week - Edify Energy's proposed 200MW Callide solar power station project, Genex's proposed 258MW Kidston wind farm (related to the Kidston clean energy hub, and RWE's proposed 1,100MW Theodore wind farm.

The state government has tabled in Parliament a report on pumped hydro opportunities in Queensland.

The state government has advised Parliament that it will reclassify more than 12,000 hectares of land currently declared as state forest as national and conservation park.

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

At the behest of Climate, Energy and Environment Minister Penny Sharpe, Planning Minister Paul Scully has told the Independent Planning Commission that the state's Climate Change Act 2023, and scientific advice that the state isn't on track to meet its targets, have ramifications for its decision-making.

As the government doubles down on efforts to address climate change, the Independent Planning Commission should have regard to the Act's targets, Minister Sharpe said in her letter to Minister Scully.

The Commission says on its website that it will explain how it has taken account of the targets in the statements of reasons that accompany its future decisions.

The EPA is calling for nominations for members of its new Climate Change Community and Environment Advisory Group, which will complement existing advisory groups for the mining and agriculture sectors. 

Expressions of interest are open until 27 June.

A Business Council of Australia submission to the state government's review of freight strategy says regulations that restrict the uptake of electric trucks should where practical removed.

It calls for additional weight allowances for zero emissions trucks, to ensure they aren't penalised by their heavier power systems, and says vehicles with lower noise profiles (such as electric trucks) should be exempt from freight curfews.

The state government has hosted the NSW 2030 Renewable Workforce Roundtable in the Hunter as part of its development of a 2030 Renewable Workforce Plan.

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.
  • Waste reforms. The EPA is considering gradually increasing waste levies, above the inflation rate, to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill, and is inviting comments on a discussion paper by 15 July. It is also seeking comments by the same date on proposed food and organic waste reforms.

Open consultations:

Western Australia

The state government says an environmental approval granted to Yindjibarndi Energy Corporation (YEC) is the first project assessed through its Green Energy Approvals Initiative. 

YEC - in partnership with ACEN Australia - has received environmental approval for a 150MW solar project in the Pilbara, covered by the Yindjibarndi Native Title Determination Area.

The approved project is one of a suite of YEC solar, wind and storage proposals that are ultimately expected to have a joint capacity of 3GW.

The assessment process was guided by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation's Green Energy Directorate, which worked across multiple agencies to ensure an efficient approvals pathway for the project.

The first electric bus to be manufactured as part of a joint $250 million Australian and Western Australian government initiative has now been completed at the Volgren facility in Perth, and it will be commissioned in the next few months..

The Australian Government has committed $125 million toward electric bus charging infrastructure in Perth, combined with a $125 million commitment from the Western Australian government for the acquisition of 130 locally manufactured electric buses.

A total of 18 electric buses will be supplied, each able to travel 300 kilometres on a single charge. The cost to operate an electric bus across its 18-year service life is about $1 million less than current diesel buses, the state government says.

Northern Territory

The NT EPA has issued a revamped version of its guidance on what information on greenhouse gas emissions should be included in referrals.

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 18, 2024 Australian dialogue on business and human rights. An event in Sydney, hosted by the UN Global Compact Network.
June 20, Better for the environment, better for business: How will the EPBC Act reforms meet the brief? A June 20 event in Brisbane and online, hosted by the National Environmental Law Association.
July 4, The inaugural Will Steffen memorial lecture, delivered by Professor Dr Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute. An event in Canberra, hosted by the ANU Institute for Climate, Energy and Disaster Solutions.
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
The AFL is recruiting a head of sustainability.
Brickworks is hiring a Sydney-based general manager of sustainability.
Energetics is recruiting an energy and sustainability analyst.
Sandfire has a vacancy for a Perth-based principal, climate change.
The University of Melbourne's Climate Reality project is seeking a project officer.
Company news and resources
Australian Super has joined the ESG Data Convergence Initiative, with members agreeing to report on a core set of ESG metrics, including greenhouse gas emissions, net zero commitments, renewables, board and C-suite diversity, work-related accidents, and employee engagement.
Telstra has increased its scope 1+2 carbon emission reduction target from 50% to 70% by 2030, and will leave unchanged its goal of reducing scope 3 emissions by 50% by 2030.

To achieve the new target, it will redirect funds from the purchase of carbon credits in favour of decarbonisation projects to reduce its emissions footprint. It will no longer seek certification under Climate Active.
Tetra Pak's latest sustainability report shows a 20% reduction in value chain carbon emissions and a 47% reduction in carbon emissions across its own operations since 2019.
NT-based Tivan has formed a strategic alliance with Sumitomo Corporation to drive the development and financing of Tivan’s Speewah vanadium oxide project, potentially creating a local supply chain for Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries (VRFB).

UK Labour has released its election policy on making Britain a clean energy superpower.

"Labour will work with the private sector to double onshore wind, triple solar power, and quadruple offshore wind by 2030," the policy says. "We will invest in carbon capture and storage, hydrogen and marine energy, and ensure we have the long-term energy storage our country needs."

Labour will also:

  • create a new publicly-owned company, Great British Energy, which will partner with industry and trade unions to deliver clean power by co-investing in clean technologies.
  • maintain a "strategic reserve" of gas power stations to guarantee security of supply;
  • stop issuing oil and gas exploration licences.

The US House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Administrative State, Regulatory Reform, and Antitrust held a 12 June hearing on "Climate Control: Decarbonisation Collusion in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Investing".

The committee said the hearing would "examine whether existing civil and criminal penalties and current antitrust law enforcement efforts are sufficient to deter anticompetitive collusion to promote ESG-related goals in the investment industry".

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