ESG Snapshot: Issue 51

ESG Snapshot: Issue 51

This week's highlights include:

  • Treasurer introduces 'prosperity' Bill. A federal Bill will guide government investment in the clean economy, and expand the remit of two agencies.
  • Nature bills advance. The House of Representatives has passed three nature positive bills unamended, and they will now go to the Senate.
  • Offshore wind inquiry. The Senate has launched a committee inquiry into offshore wind consultation processes.
  • Coal 'orderly exit'. Energy ministers have released a draft Bill on managing the closure of coal power plants.
  • Packaging waste order. NSW has gazetted a new recovery target for packaging materials, applying to non-APCO signatories.
  • Smooth sailing. A new international environmental treaty has prompted a rare moment of enthusiastic bipartisanship in federal parliament.

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


Statutory development - Future Made in Australia. Treasurer Jim Chalmers has told Parliament the Future Made in Australia Bill will "deliver our country's next generation of prosperity".

The Bill gives legislative status to a National Interest Framework that has a net zero transformation stream as well as an economic resilience and security stream.

The net zero transformation stream will identify sectors which could have a
sustained comparative advantage in a net zero global economy, and where
public investment is likely to be needed.

The Bill also provides for the conduct of sector assessments against the Framework, with these assessments then used as a basis for deciding on government investment, which would aim to unlock more private investment.

Investment decision-makers would also need to have regard to Community Benefit Principles, which are described in the Bill. Recipients of Future Made in Australia support in some cases would need to prepare a written Future Made in Australia Plan showing how their activities are consistent with the principles.

Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen introduced an associated omnibus amendments Bill that allows the government to make domestic investments through Export Finance Australia, if the necessary support is not available through existing funds.

The omnibus Bill will also expand the role of ARENA so it can support innovative technologies and facilities in priority sectors, such as green metals, low carbon liquid fuels, and clean energy manufacturing.

As part of these changes, the Bill would amend the ARENA Act so that ARENA is also tasked to contribute to reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement.

Statutory development - High Seas Biodiversity Treaty. In a statement to Parliament on the new High Seas Biodiversity Treaty, which aims to protect the world's oceans, Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek noted that until now there has been no agreement on how to protect biodiversity beyond national borders.

"As a demonstration of our commitment to this treaty, Australia has committed $3 million through the Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner to support Pacific countries to sign and ratify this important work," the Ministers said, noting that the Treaty was the culmination of negotiations extending over two decades.

Plibersek added that she is "continuing to fight for a strong, internationally binding plastics treaty so we can realise our dream of seeing a plastic-free Pacific in our lifetimes".

In response, Liberal MP Rick Wilson, said the Coalition "stands ready to assist" the Minister in her efforts on the Treaty, and paid tribute to former Coalition Minister Robert Hill, who initiated Australia's involvement in the treaty negotiations and later became a Commissioner of the Global Ocean Commission.

The Joint Parliamentary Committee on Treaties is conducting an inquiry into the Treaty, and submissions are due by 15 July.

Statutory development - Nature Positive. Three government Nature Positive bills have cleared the House of Representatives unamended, and will now go to the Senate.

Two of the bills will establish Environment Protection Australia and Environment Information Australia. The transitional provisions Bill will significantly increase maximum penalties - putting nature crime on an equivalent footing to financial crime - and will also introduce new compliance measures.

A Senate committee is conducting a brief inquiry into the bills and is due to report on 8 August. Submissions are being accepted until 15 July.

The Senate has instigated a committee inquiry into the offshore wind consultation process, with a report due by the end of February.

Statutory development - fees for waste export licences. The federal government has gazetted regulations amending fees for the export of regulated wastes.

Statutory development - Nature Repair Committee. The federal government has gazetted rules that prescribe procedures to be followed by the new Nature Repair Committee.

A survey of 30 sites linked to EPBC offset requirements has found that 55% of sites sampled had maintained their condition, 30% were in worse condition, 10% had improved, and the remainder had mixed results.

The study was commissioned by DCCEEW, and carried out by Jacobs Group.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has welcomed the release of a Green Building Council of Australia discussion paper on reporting and accounting for Scope 3 emissions in the property sector.

The discussion paper, prepared with CEFC support and assistance covers scenarios for buildings that are sold, leased, developed, or built, considering different lease types and their impact on emissions.

The GBCA will use industry feedback from the discussion paper to create a comprehensive guidance document, in partnership with the Property Council.

NGER reporters can now make their next annual reports, with the Emissions and Energy Reporting System (EERS) now open for 2023–24 reporting. Reports must be lodged by 31 October.

The Australian Accounting Standards Board has released a summary of decisions at its June Board meeting, dealing with issues including climate-related financial disclosures.

Consultation opportunity - managing coal plant closures. To manage the closure of coal-fired power stations, energy ministers have released an Orderly Exit Management Framework Draft Exposure Bill.

The Framework is intended to allow governments to temporarily seek an extension to their closing dates to maintain energy reliability and security. Comments on the exposure draft Bill and associated rules are due by 24 July.

The federal government has released a market brief for the Capacity Investment Scheme Tender 2, which will focus on projects in WA.

Tender 2 is expected to open mid-July, and will target 500MW/2,000MWh of dispatchable capacity.

Senior government officials for the Arafura and Timor Seas Ecosystem Action Program (ATSEA) have drafted a ministerial declaration to reduce pollution, and tackle illegal fishing. It will be signed by ministers from Australia, Indonesia, PNG, and Time Leste in September.

The CEFC is providing $250 million to auto and equipment finance lender Metro, which will in turn offer discounted loans to small businesses seeking electric vehicles, solar PV, batteries, and more efficient farming and building machinery.

Metro, which specialises in auto and equipment finance for businesses, as well as car finance for consumers, received $50 million from the CEFC in 2018, to encourage the take-up of lower emissions passenger and light commercial vehicles.

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand has released a briefing paper titled Nature-related financial disclosures: Frequently asked questions.

The Business Renewables Centre Australia has released a recording of its webinar on renewable fuels, with speakers including Energy Estate principal Simon Currie.

Click here for open consultations


The state government has named members of the new Queensland Energy System Advisory Board, which will advise on delivering a coordinated energy transition.

The new Board will be led by Leeanne Bond, a former board member of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and a director of Aurecon.

Other board members include Powerlink chief executive Professor Paul Simshauser and Jo Sheppard, chief executive of the Queensland Farmers Federation.

Acciona has made an EPBC referral for its proposed 1GW Herries Range wind farm, which would be located within the Southern Queensland Renewable Energy Zone.

Meanwhile, BayWa r.e has made an EPBC referral for a proposed 200MW/800MWh Battery Energy Storage System near Gladstone.

Consultation opportunity - climate impact on heritage places. The state government is seeking comments by 23 July on a proposed Heritage Climate Adaptation Plan.

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

The EPA has gazetted a waste order that applies to brand owners and retailers and which requires the recovery of 90% of all material used in packaging, "up to and including 30 June 2026".

The order does not apply to compliant signatories to the Australian Packaging Covenant, or to businesses with a gross income of less than $5 million.

The state government has released its response to the report of a parliamentary inquiry into undergrounding transmission infrastructure.

Ark Energy's 347MW Bowmans Creek wind farm near Muswellbrook has received EPBC approval, after receiving state approval in February.

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.

Five businesses have been approved under Solar Victoria's $10 million residential electrification grants program to provide solar and electrification services to a minimum of 50 homes.

Solar Victoria had received 40 expressions of interest for funding through the program.

EPA Victoria has released its FY25 annual delivery plan.

Luke Hooke and Catherine Jenkins have been appointed to the second term of the Victorian Agriculture Climate Change Council, joining founding members including Fiona Conroy and Professor Richard Eckard.

Agriculture Victoria is seeking views on a state wine strategy, and is inviting survey responses on matters including climate change adaptation and reducing the industry's environmental footprint.

The EPA is calling for nominations for the 2024 Sustainability Awards. Nominations close on 31 July.  

The state government is seeking comments by 15 September on its draft kangaroo management plan.

Western Australia

The state government has awarded grants totalling $3.38 million for 32 projects to tackle coastal hazards such as erosion and inundation.

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

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July 10, Aligning Policy Engagement with Net Zero - a spotlight on Australia. A webinar hosted by groups including Better Futures Australia and InfluenceMap.
August 7, 2024 Australian dialogue on bribery and corruption. An event in Brisbane, hosted by the UN Global Compact Australia.
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.
December 2 to 6, Short course: Introduction to environmental accounting. An ANU-run course, presented in conjunction with the ABS.
Jobs Board
Bloomberg NEF is offering a six-month contract for a strategy and special projects analyst, based in Sydney.
The Borg Group has a vacancy for a NSW-based sustainability manager.
The Business Chamber of Queensland is hiring a project manager - sustainability.
Victoria's Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action is recruiting multiple circular economy roles, including manager of circular economy policy, manager of circular economy frameworks, principal policy advisor, senior policy advisor, and policy advisor.
Gippsland Water is hiring a climate action and sustainability lead.
Company news and resources
Lufthansa will introduce an environmental surcharge for flights leaving EU and Scandinavian countries to cover environmental costs related to Sustainable Aviation Fuel quotes, EU ETS changes, and offsetting needs to meet CORSIA requirements.
Origin Energy has acquired a 20% stake in Climatech Zero, which specialises in commercial and industrial decarbonisation projects.
Rio Tinto will install carbon free aluminium smelting cells at its Arvida smelter in Québec, Canada, using the first technology licence issued by the ELYSIS joint venture. The company has also commissioned two 5.25MW solar farms to be built on Gumatj and Rirratjingu country on the Gove Peninsula, on Rio Tinto leases.

New UK Prime Minister Kier Starmer has appointed Ed Miliband MP, a former leader of the party when it was in opposition, as Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero. Labour's clean energy and nature policy is available here.

Steve Reed OBE will serve as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The Network for Greening the Financial System has released a report on Nature-related litigation, and another on Nature-related financial risks.

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