ESG Snapshot: Issue 49

ESG Snapshot: Issue 49

Highlights in this week's issue include:

  • Trio of inquiries to report. Three major Senate inquiries are due to report this week.
  • Two clean energy bills pass. The NSW Parliament has passed clean energy and energy security bills, less than three weeks after they were introduced.
  • Environment ministers meet. Environment ministers dealt with a broad agenda - ranging from Nature Positive to packaging - at a meeting on Friday.
  • Managing asbestos risk. A NSW issues paper canvasses views on managing asbestos risk in the recycling of construction and demolition materials.
  • New renewables and waste audits. Victoria's Auditor-General has released its latest work program.
  • New finance roadmap. Treasury's new sustainable finance roadmap says guidance on transition plans will be finalised by the end of next year.
  • Embodied carbon. A new issues paper outlines embodied carbon challenges, and describes what governments are currently doing.
  • 'Regulatory interventions'. A new ACT Integrated Energy Plan flags "potential regulatory interventions to support electrification".   
  • Coal-reliant. A NSW issues paper canvasses views on helping communities that will be affected by the closure of 18 coal mines and three power stations.
  • 2GW wind farm. Climate Minister Chris Bowen has issued a feasibility licence to one of eight applicants to operate in the Hunter offshore wind zone.

Do you want to work for Anthesis, APA Group, Komatsu, the Port of Newcastle, or Stanwell? Check out this issue's jobs! Plus an EPBC referral for a 1.3GW Queensland solar farm, Matt Kean's valedictory speech to the NSW Parliament, and more.

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


Three significant Senate committee inquiries are scheduled to release their reports this week, unless extensions are granted.

The inquiry into Senator David Pocock's intergenerational climate equity Bill is due to release its report on Wednesday. The inquiry into greenwashing and the inquiry into Australia's extinction crisis are both scheduled to report on 28 June.

A meeting of environment ministers has discussed issues including creating a Nature Positive Australia, progress on the circular economy framework, progress on a new national packaging regulatory scheme, PFAS, and battery fires.

Ministers formally endorsed goals of protecting and conserving 30% of Australia's landmass and marine areas by 2030.

"Nuclear energy for Australia is an idea whose time has come", according to a statement by Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, Nationals leader David Littleproud, and shadow climate change minister Ted O'Brien.

The opposition has proposed nuclear power plants at seven sites.

Treasury has released a Sustainable Finance Roadmap, which aims to help mobilise large amounts of private capital to help Australia achieve net zero.

The Roadmap notes that Treasury will develop and publish best practice guidance for the disclosure of corporate transition plans by the end of 2025.

It will also start consultation early next year on a sustainable investment product labelling regime, with the aim of launching it in 2027.

The federal government has gazetted the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Amendment (2024 Measures No. 1) Regulations.

The federal government has offered feasibility licences to Equinor and Oceanex for the proposed Novocastrian wind farm in the Hunter offshore wind zone.

Only one feasibility licence is being offered because the other seven applications for licences in the 1,854km2 zone were for overlapping areas and were found by the Offshore Infrastructure Regulator to be of lower merit.

The Novocastrian wind project will have a capacity of more than 2GW, equivalent to powering 1.2 million homes, or two Tomago smelters. It would employ around 3,000 construction workers and create about 200–300 permanent local jobs.

The proponents aim to start construction in 2028, with energisation of the first array of turbines in 2030.

A new embodied carbon issues paper, released by the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council in conjunction with DCCEEW and NABERS, outlines work on embodied carbon at all levels of government, and describes challenges and potential solutions.

The paper will be followed by a Comprehensive Policy Framework that will explore initiatives to complement the NABERS embodied carbon measurement methodology and tool that is now in its pilot phase. Comments on the paper are due by 26 July.

Meanwhile, ACT Minister for Sustainable Building, Rebecca Vassarotti, said she had secured agreement at a national meeting of building ministers on Friday to establish a nationally consistent approach to measuring embodied emissions.

Vassarotti said she had successfully proposed at the meeting updates to the National Construction Code to ensure every jurisdiction consistently measures embodied carbon in the construction of commercial buildings, using the NABERS tool.

Communiques from building ministers' meetings are made available here.

Applications for funding through the ARENA-administered $100 million global Solar ScaleUp Challenge are now being accepted. Funding will be focused on projects and activities that can help:

  • lower large-scale solar installation costs to 30 cents per watt.
  • reduce electricity costs to below $20 per megawatt-hour by 2030.

Applications close in eight weeks, and shortlisted applicants will be invited to participate in a showcase event.

ARENA will provide a $3.2 million grant to Amber Electric for a residential trial of EV smart-charging and the provision of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) services. Amber is developing a software solution to facilitate BEV smart charging and V2G charging.  

Bids must be submitted by next Monday for the Capacity Investment Scheme Tender 1, which aims to support about 6GW of renewable electricity generation across the NEM.

The Board of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) visited Gladstone last week to discuss further potential investment opportunities.

The visit included a meeting with Alpha HPA, a company developing a high-purity alumina project in Gladstone, which NAIF is backing with a $200 million loan, as well as discussions with other local businesses and interest groups.

Click here for open consultations


European Energy has made an EPBC referral for its proposed 1.3GW Upper Calliope solar farm, west of Gladstone.

Rio Tinto has signed a contract to purchase all the electricity generated from the project to help power their three main assets in the region – the Boyne Island aluminium smelter, the Yarwun alumina refinery, and the Queensland alumina refinery.

The project will contribute to Rio Tinto's objective of securing 4GW of wind and solar energy to provide clean power for the three operations, which currently rely on coal-fired electricity.

In partnership with Cape York Traditional Owner groups, the Australian and Queensland governments have nominated the Cultural Landscapes of Cape York Peninsula to Australia’s UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List.

The state government will establish a mini renewable energy zone in Caloundra, making it the first of 18 Local Renewable Energy Zones to be established across the state.

The $40 million pilot Caloundra LREZ will allow renewable energy tobe shared among home and small business customers in the town, including those who haven’t been able to invest in solar power.

It will involve the deployment of up to 8.4MW/18.8MWh of battery storage, an additional 2.8MW of solar PV, and 0.9MW of demand management.

One of Australia’s leading tungsten producers, EQ Resources, has been granted a permit to begin extensive on-ground exploration over a 480 square kilometre area in Far North Queensland.

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

  • 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

Former NSW Treasurer Matt Kean, who also served as Minister for Energy and Environment, has delivered his valedictory speech to the NSW Parliament, ahead of moving into private sector energy industry.

"Climate change is the challenge of our generation, which needs a once in a generation response" Kean said.

"We do not have higher electricity prices in Australia because we have too much renewable energy," he said. "We have higher electricity prices in Australia because we do not have enough renewable energy."

"We need gigawatts of renewables," Kean said. (Climate change remarks start at the 18 minute mark.)

The state Parliament has established a joint standing committee "to inquire into and report on Net Zero Future".

The inquiry will focus on matters including the exercise of the Net Zero Commission's functions, and the annual reports submitted by the Commission.

Lower House members of the committee will include Labor MP Liza Butler (who will be the committee's deputy chair), Labor MP Trish Doyle (parliamentary secretary for climate change and the environment), and Liberal MP James Griffin (a former environment minister).

Upper House members will include cross-bencher Jeremy Buckingham (committee chair), Labor's Mark Buttigieg, and National's MLC Wes Fang.

A risk-based approach to managing asbestos in construction and demolition materials could involve businesses throughout the supply chain identifying the presence of asbestos, assessing the potential risk and developing mitigation actions, says a new discussion paper.

"This allows a through-chain approach to manage asbestos in waste for beneficial reuse," says the discussion paper issued by the Office of the Chief Scientist and Engineer. Comments are due by 31 July.

Statutory development - clean energy. Parliament has passed the Energy Legislation Amendment (Clean Energy Future) Bill 2024.

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.

Statutory development - energy security. Parliament has passed the Energy Security Corporation Bill 2024, after accepting Greens amendments put forward in the Legislative Council.

The Bill establishes an Energy Security Corporation that will be seeded with $1 billion, and will co-finance clean technology projects that improve the reliability, security and sustainability of electricity supply.

Consultation opportunity - coal-reliant communities. The state government is seeking feedback on a Future Jobs and Investment Authorities issues paper outlining options to support coal-reliant communities.

The paper says the impacts of a decline in coal mining will likely be concentrated between 2030 to 2040, with 18 coal mines and three power stations expected to close during this time. This will impact about 13,000 direct jobs and about 21,000 indirect jobs across the state's four coal-reliant regions.

Investment case studies included in the report include a BlueScope master plan for the Illawarra that could create 30,000 jobs in emerging industries, and a potential lithium recycling facility on the Liddell/Bayswater power stations site. Comments are due by 12 July.

The NSW community saved $432 million last year through the reuse and resale of goods, helping to ease the cost-of-living crisis, according to a new study by Charitable Reuse Australia in conjunction with the EPA.

The study relied on National Reuse Measurement Guidelines developed by Monash University.

Open consultations:

  • 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.

The ACT government has released a new Integrated Energy Plan for 2024 to 2030, and updated its Infrastructure Plan.

Measures in the Integrated Energy Plan include:

  • considering "potential regulatory interventions to support electrification", which will involve "an initial assessment of measures to maximise replacement of gas appliances with electric appliances at end-of-life".   
  • reviewing the Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme.
  • electrifying all feasible public and community housing by 2030.
  • providing $5.2 million for a pilot to electrify the appliances of households that most need support.
  • introducing a Retrofit Readiness Program to help multi-unit buildings develop a plan to electrify, and providing interest free loans for multi-unit buildings to become EV ready.
  • reviewing unit titles management legislation to ensure it is fit-for-purpose to support electrification of multi-unit buildings.
  • providing rebates of up to $3,000 for fleet operators to install EV chargers.
  • providing training subsidies for priority trades.

The Infrastructure Plan includes a Climate Action, Energy and Environment component.


Victoria's Auditor-General has released its FY25 work program, which proposes performance audits of the management of the transition to renewables, and the effectiveness of reforms to the management of waste recovery and reprocessing.

The renewables audit will examine how effectively the government is planning for, governing and managing the energy transition, and it will look at the work of entities including the State Electricity Commission and VicGrid.

The waste and recycling audit will examine whether state authorities and local governments are implementing system reforms and effectively managing emerging waste and recycling challenges.

The federal Clean Energy Finance Corporation is providing an additional $127.5 million loan to help fast-track construction of the 577MW Stage 2 of TagEnergy's 1,333MW Golden Plains Wind Farm, near Geelong.

The CEFC commitment to Stage Two of of the Golden Plains wind farm takes its debt finance in the $4 billion mega project to $350 million. The CEFC previously invested $222.5 million in the 756MW stage one of the wind farm, which is nearing completion.

When both stages are completed in mid-2027, the 1,333MW wind farm will generate enough electricity to power more than 750,000 homes – the equivalent of every home in regional Victoria.

The state government has launched a Renewable Homes Construction program which will run free training sessions in Melbourne and regional areas on how to build, design or retrofit homes to make them more energy efficient.

The program will also train builders on the new National Construction Code 2022 (NCC) which came into effect on 1 May 2024. 

The government is also developing training modules on Efficient Home Design and Construction that will augment its existing Net Zero Homes Skills modules.

The state government has released a new Green Iron and Steel Strategy.

The strategy aims to establish a green iron industry and supply chain in South Australia, involving the establishment of a new hydrogen-based green iron plant by 2030.

Western Australia

Jane Bennett, a board member of WA Planning Commission and Development WA, has been appointed to the Board of the WA EPA. Bennett is also owner and managing director of CLE Town Planning + Design.

"We are currently implementing the most crucial environmental assessment reforms this state has ever seen, and Ms Bennett's expertise will be a valuable part of this process," said Energy, Environment and Climate Action Minister Reece Whitby.

Statutory development - native forests. The Legislative Assembly has passed the Conservation and Land Management Bill, and it is now before the Legislative Council.

The amendments will "solidify and lock" the government's decision to stop commercial native forest logging, according to Environment Minister Reece Whitby.

The state government has signed an agreement with the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) to enhance the participation of local businesses in wind energy supply chains.

The agreement to provide $8 million to the AMGC for a Wind Turbine Manufacturing Initiative follows recommendations from an independent feasibility study by Aurecon, which was ommissioned by the state government.

The study identified a strong appetite and existing capability among WA businesses to pursue wind energy componentry manufacturing and servicing.

The Australian Energy Market Operator's latest annual reliability outlook for the South West Interconnected System (SWIS), which presents a significantly improved near-term outlook compared to last year's report.

The improvement is the result of major investment in the SWIS, which is occurring "on a scale not seen in decades", AEMO said.

However, significant further capacity investment is still required, particularly from 2027 onwards.

Parts of the Pilbara's largest seasonal wetland will be classified as Class A nature reserve following the signing of an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with Karlka Nyiyaparli Aboriginal Corporation.

The proposed Fortescue Marsh Nature Reserve will span 107,000 hectares. The move comes as part of the state government's goal of creating five million hectares of new conservation estate over five years through its Plan for our Parks.

Statutory development - fisheries. The state government won't proceed with implementation of the Aquatic Resources Management Act 2016, and will instead build on existing legislation to ensure sustainable fisheries.

Northern Territory

The Territory government has awarded Major Project status to Tamboran Resources for its Beetaloo basin shale fossil gas project, and LNG export terminal at the Middle Arm Sustainable Development Precinct.

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 next Monday, 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.
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.
September 10 and 11. Better Futures Forum. An event in Canberra, billed as Australia's largest multi-sector forum on climate change, and hosted by the Better Futures Forum Australia.
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
Anthesis is recruiting a Sydney-based principal consultant.
APA Group has a vacancy for a Brisbane-based manager of sustainability reporting.
CBH Group is recruiting a Perth-based manager, environment and sustainability.
Daracon is hiring a Hunter Valley-based environmental and sustainability lead.
Komatsu has a vacancy for a Sydney-based national sustainability reporting and compliance lead.
The Nature Conservancy is hiring a part-time natural climate solutions specialist.
The Port of Newcastle is seeking an environment manager.
Stanwell is recruiting a Brisbane-based sustainability advisor.
Company news and resources
Queensland startup company Infravision, which specialises in drone stringing systems for new transmission lines, has completed the longest section of high voltage transmission line strung by drones in the Asia-Pacific.

In partnership with Powerlink, Infravision used drones to 'string' 50 kilometres of transmission lines to connect the Genex Kidston Pumped Storage Hydro System to the Queensland grid.
Australian carbon credits business Tasman Environmental Markets has gained approval under the international Verra scheme to earn international carbon credits from a clean cookstoves project in PNG.

The project will distribute more than 100,000 efficient cookstoves to households that still rely on indoor open fire cooking, which is a health risk and consumers large amounts of firewood.

Credits from the project could potentially be acquired by Singapore-based businesses based to help them comply with their carbon tax obligations, as a result of a PNG-Singapore agreement that aligns with rules established under the Paris Agreement.

CDP, which collects company sustainability data on behalf of global investors, has released a state of play report on climate transition plan disclosures for 2023.

About 26% of companies that submitted CDP responses said they had a 1.5°C-aligned climate transition plan in place – up from 22% the previous year.

However, many of the plans don't report on all key transition indicators and thresholds, the CDP said.

The Nature Restoration Law, which sets legally binding targets to restore 20% of the EU's degraded land and sea ecosystems by 2030 and all ecosystems in need of restoration by 2050, has cleared its final legal hurdle.

To achieve the new law's objectives, EU countries must restore at least 30% of habitats covered by the law from poor to good condition by 2030—such as forests, grasslands, wetlands, rivers, and lakes—and 90% by 2050. Member states must also ensure that these areas do not deteriorate once restored.

More details can be found here.

Global think tank Planet Tracker has released a report titled The Global Plastic Recycling Deception, which argues that a reduction in plastic production is imperative.

The think tank has released the report as negotiations on a global plastics treaty enter their final stages.

China's Ministry of Finance has opened a public consultation on an exposure draft of  Chinese Sustainability Disclosure Standards for Businesses. According to the accompanying explanatory document, China intends to create a mandatory International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB)-aligned sustainability reporting system by 2030, with sustainability-related and climate-related disclosure standards to be introduced by 2027.

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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