SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities

SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities

Below are all Australian news items from all ESG Snapshot issues that are relevant to SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities), listed with most recent items appearing first.

Issue 44, 20 May 2024

Statutory development - vehicle efficiency standards. Federal Parliament has passed legislation establishing vehicle efficiency standards.

The New Vehicle Efficiency Standard Bill will reduce CO2 emissions from new cars, SUVs, utes and vans, and stimulate the provision of low and zero emissions vehicles. It will be underpinned by a trading scheme for emissions credits.

Opposition members of a Senate committee inquiry into a Bill that would establish the Net Zero Economy Authority have recommended that the proposed legislation not be passed.

The proposed new Authority would duplicate the role of organisations such as the CEFC and ARENA, and various state bodies, the Coalition members of the committee said.

The majority of committee members have recommended that the Bill be passed.

The Senate has agreed to a Greens motion to establish a Select Committee on the Impact of Climate Risk on Insurance Premiums and Availability, with a reporting date of 19 November. The inquiry home page is here.

Issue 38, 8 April 2024

The federal government's new Energy Performance Strategy says a new NABERS Universal Benchmark tool is being developed for building types that lack a sector-specific NABERS rating tool. It will be launched this year.

The strategy adds that a review of the Australian Energy Market Operator's approach to developing Integrated System Plans will examine how it deals with demand-side matters, such as electrification and EVs.

Statutory development. The federal government has introduced the New Vehicle Efficiency Standard Bill, which would establish a duty for light-vehicle suppliers to meet or beat a carbon emissions target, adjusted for the types of vehicle they sell and the weight of each vehicle.

Issue 36, 18 March 2024

The Green Building Council of Australia has released a discussion paper on its proposed Nature Roadmap, and will host a webinar on 11 April. Comments on the paper are due by 30 June.

"The roadmap will advocate for net biodiversity gain on all sites, and for the protection of ecologically sensitive areas in and outside the site," the paper says. 

It adds that the roadmap "will likely endorse biodiversity net-gain in planning policies and potentially set minimum expectations for Green Star".

Issue 35, 11 March 2024

The federal government has announced a $76 million funding package for electric vehicle projects, which will be financed by ARENA and the CEFC. 

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation will provide $50 million to Angle Auto Finance (AAF), Australia’s largest independent retail auto financier, to get 20,000 new EVs onto Australian roads over the next two years.

AAF will provide short term loans to car dealerships to purchase vehicles from manufacturers, with dealerships to repay the loan when the vehicle is sold. 

ARENA will provide more than $4 million to help Europcar add 3,100 new, electric passenger vehicles to its Australian fleet over three years. The rental car company is also teaming up with Ampol to install 256 chargers across 41 hire car sites. Europcar will operate the EVs for up to two years before selling them on to grow the second-hand EV market.

ARENA will also provide almost $22 million dollars for three projects in Western Australia to electrify logistics fleets and local government vehicles.

Transport for NSW is trialing a bio-bitumen, known as ECO5, that contains recycled materials and has a carbon footprint that is 30% lower than conventional asphalt. The product is made by asphalt company COLAS.

The Western Australian government has released a new Electric Vehicle strategy.

Issue 34, 4 March 2024

Statutory development - waste plasterboard reuse. The Department of Environment and Science is inviting comments on its decision to expand the range of end-of-waste uses of plasterboard to allow its use as a coagulant in the management of sediment basins. Comments are due by 29 March.

The state government should initially adopt a carbon value of at least $123 per tonne to inform infrastructure planning and business cases, recommends a report released by Infrastructure Victoria.

This value - based on the EU emissions trading scheme price - would be consistent with the interim approach adopted by NSW in February last year, says the report on opportunities to reduce infrastructure greenhouse gas emissions .

"Valuing emissions will ensure that infrastructure project decisions account for climate change impacts alongside other costs and benefits," the report says.

The report, which makes 10 recommendations, notes that up to 70% of Australia’s annual greenhouse gas emissions relate to the lifecycle of infrastructure through operational, enabled, and embodied emissions. 

The main report is backed by a separate technical report prepared by WSP. Infrastructure Victoria will host a webinar on the report on 13 March.

Western Australian Statutory development - clean energy. Parliament has passed the Electricity Industry Amendment (Distributed Energy Resources) Bill 2023, marking the first major update of the state's electricity legislation in 20 years.

The Bill introduces a new State Electricity Objective that requires electricity infrastructure decision-makers to consider the environment, including greenhouse gas emissions, as well as reliability and price.

It also streamlines and consolidates the codes, rules and regulations used to manage the state's power system and electricity market.

The Bill also establishes the regulatory framework needed to enable customer devices - such as batteries, electric vehicles, and solar panels - to be utilised to support the state's power systems.

Issue 32, 19 February 2024

The CEFC in December issued a market call for financial intermediaries - banks, non-bank lenders, and others - to deliver its $1 billion Household Energy Upgrades Fund, with responses due by 1 March.

"We are well prepared to start to implement the program in short order after 1 March," CEFC chief executive Ian Learmonth told Senate Estimates. 

Subsidy opportunity - solar for apartments. Applications close 15 April under round one of Solar Victoria's new Solar for Apartments program, which is partly funded by the federal government.

About 12% of Victoria's 2.5 million households live in apartments, with around 63% of these occupied by renters.

Successful applicants will receive rebates of up to $2,800 per apartment, or up to $140,000 per building. 

Owners corporations will have the choice to install either multiple individual solar PV systems, a single large solar PV system coupled with solar sharing technology, or a combination of both.

Issue 31, 12 February 2024

Australia's energy rating and labelling scheme (GEMS) saved Australian businesses and households between $12 billion and $18 billion in energy costs, between FY12 and FY22, according to a new report by the GEMS Regulator.

The report also found that GEMS saved between 45 to 67 terawatt-hours of energy, which is about the same amount of electricity that was used by all Tasmanian, Northern Territory and South Australian homes during the same period.

Australia's households and businesses are continuing to install PV at rates unparalleled across the globe, and the uptake of EVs is exceeding forecasts, says a new report from the Energy Security Board on Consumer Energy Resources and the Transformation of the NEM.

The report recommends the establishment of a new consumer energy resources taskforce, and sets out six priorities for the taskforce over the next 12 months.

The net benefit of effective integration and coordination of consumer energy resources has been estimated to be between $1 billion and $6.3 billion by 2030-2040, the report notes. 

Grant opportunity - energy efficiency. Small and medium businesses can start preparing applications now for energy efficiency grants valued at between $10,000 and $25,000.

Consultation opportunity - water efficiency. The government is considering expanding the range of product categories regulated under the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme. Product category nominations are invited by 15 March.

Issue 30, 5 February 2024

Consultation opportunity - fuel efficiency. The government plans to legislate a New Vehicle Efficiency Standard, which will impose a gradually strengthening limit on CO2 grams emitted per kilometre by new vehicles sold in Australia.

The standard would operate from 2025 - with one applying to cars and SUVs, and another for utes and light commercial vehicles - and by about 2028 would catch up with the US standard.

Australia and Russia are currently the only developed countries that don't have fuel efficiency standards. Comments are due by 4 March.

Queensland Urban Utilities and the University of Queensland have published a report on leading practice environmental management of sewage treatment plants in the Great Barrier Reef catchment.

Issue 29, 29 January 2024

Record generation from grid-scale renewables and rooftop solar is triggering a fall in wholesale energy prices and greenhouse gas emissions, according to AEMO's latest  Quarterly Energy Dynamics report.

The increase in renewable energy generation meant that the National Electricity Market also recorded it's lowest carbon intensity on record at 0.59tCO2/MWh.

AEMO chief executive Daniel Westerman noted that rooftop solar met 101% of South Australia's total electricity demand early in the afternoon of 31 December last year.

"On the afternoon of 24 October rooftop solar and grid-scale renewables provided 72% of all electricity across the east coast," Westerman added. 

The Queensland government has provided grants to Ipswich City Council ($9 million) and the City of Moreton Bay ($9.6 million) to fund a roll-out of kerbside food and garden organics (FOGO) collections.

Issue 26, 8 January 2024

The federal government is introducing new vehicle noxious emissions standards from December 2025.

The change will reduce the level of aromatic hydrocarbons to a maximum of 35% in 95 RON petrol. All vehicles will be able to use the new 95 RON petrol. The existing 91 and 98 RON petrol grades and diesel will be unaffected.

Motorists can expect an increase of $8 per year—or 15 cents a week—for an average passenger vehicle running on 95 RON petrol, the government says. Light commercial vehicles can expect a $13 yearly increase.

The government will also delay by 12 months the start date for requirements that petrol sold in Australia contain no more than 10ppm sulphur. The requirement was scheduled to start in 2024, but will now start in December 2025, to align with the new noxious emissions requirement.

The changes will remove almost 18 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector by 2050 and will allow Australia to adopt the Euro 6d noxious emissions standards.

The Euro 6d standards will apply to new light vehicle models introduced to the Australian market from December 2025, and new vehicles from existing model lines from 2028.

Details of a separate Australian fuel efficiency standard, which will regulate average CO2 emissions from new vehicles, are yet to be announced.

ARENA has awarded a $9.75 million grant to utility services provider Intellihub to launch a $22 million Demand Flexibility Platform project targeting 510MW of aggregated residential load under combined control, to be achieved through the enrolment of over 140,000 residential hot water systems and solar PV systems.

Electricity retailers will be able to sign up households to the Demand Flexibility Platform and use it to manage their customers as part of a Virtual Power Plant (VPP). Intellihub will provide the interface between electricity retailers and the customer-owned devices.

Transcript of the first hearing of a Senate committee inquiry into residential electrification is now available.

The Clean Energy Regulator has reminded Safeguard-covered facilities to submit their application for an Emissions Intensity Determination for FY24 by 30 April 2024, to avoid being subject to more onerous best-practice emissions intensity values.

The Australian Energy Market Operator has released a report on the potential benefits and risks associated with the rising take-up of EVs.

Issue 23, 4 December 2023

Hundreds of households in the WA town of Esperance that converted their homes to all-electric will save an average of 38% on their energy bills as a result of the switch, a study has found.

Horizon Power implemented the electrification project after the private gas network supplier ceased operations in March. Horizon Power has published a Knowledge Sharing Report on the project.

The WA government has rebadged its Household Energy Efficiency Scheme as Energy Ahead, and has allocated an extra $10.8 million to it. The program targets low-income households.

Issue 18, 30 October 2023

Consultation opportunity. The Tasmanian government has released a draft emissions reduction and resilience plan for the transport sector, which is accompanied by a "state of play" report on the sector. Comments are due by 29 November.

Issue 17, 23 October 2023

The Queensland government is seeking responses by 30 October to a survey on zero-emission vehicles.

The Victorian government has relaxed rules for access to its Solar Homes rebate and interest-free loans, and will now allow homeowners to access the program again if they move to a new property. It will also allow homeowners to access it to replace PV systems that are more than 10 years old.

Issue 13, 18 September 2023

Statutory development. Federal Parliament has passed the Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards Amendment (Administrative Changes) Bill, which aims to streamline the GEMS energy rating and labelling scheme.

Consultation opportunity. A new federal government green paper on aviation out to 2050 floats the possibility of measures such as Sustainable Aviation Fuel targets, or a low carbon fuel standard. It also discusses electrification and hydrogen. Comments are due by 30 November.

The ACT government has won the Innovation Award at the Cities Power Partnership Climate Awards for its Make Your Next Choice Electric web tool.

Issue 12, 11 September 2023

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has committed up to $75 million to a new investment mandate targeting upgrades that reduce the operational emissions of commercial offices, hotels and shopping centres by at least 30%. The CEFC's investment will be managed by commercial real estate investment manager, MaxCap Group.

Issue 11, 4 September 2023

The federal and Victorian governments are providing a total of $92 million to help electrify public housing, and will contribute a total of another $16 million to support solar installations in apartments.

The apartments solar program will provide grants of up to $2,800 per apartment – or up to $140,000 total for each apartment building – for rooftop systems.

Statutory development. The Western Australian government has introduced the Electricity Industry Amendment (Distributed Energy Resources) Bill, which is designed to support the uptake of technologies such as solar PV and batteries. It also introduces a new State Electricity Objective.

Townsville City Council will earn carbon credits from the introduction of a FOGO kerbside collection, following its registration of a new ERF project, and a Perth-based electric vehicle leasing and rental company, CarBon Leasing and Rentals, has registered a new ERF project under the transport method.

Issue 10, 28 August 2023

Seven private peak bodies and three federal agencies have jointly launched the Infrastructure Net Zero initiative.

The ten founders are the Australian Constructors Association, the Australasian Railways Association, Consult Australia, the Green Building Council of Australia, Infrastructure Australia, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, the Infrastructure Sustainability Council, Roads Australia, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts.

The federal government has released submissions received during its fuel efficiency standard consultation.

The ACT government will develop a plan to phase-out wood heaters, in response to a report on wood heaters by the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment.

The Victorian government has raised the income limit for eligibility for its Solar Homes grant program from $180,000 a year to $210,000 a year.

The government is now also offering home owners discounted home energy rating assessments, through the Victorian Energy Upgrades scheme.

Issue 8, 14 August 2023

Statutory development. The Victorian Lower House has passed the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Amendment Bill, and it is now before the Legislative Council.

The Victorian government has released a consultation paper on its commitment to ensure all public transport buses purchased from 2025 are zero emissions.

The Latrobe Valley Authority has released the final version of the Latrobe Valley and Gippsland Transition Plan, and a supporting five-year implementation plan.

A new South Australian commercial and industrial noise policy takes effect on 31 October, replacing the existing policy that has been in force for 15 years.

The Western Australian Water Corporation is starting a large-scale trial of water metering technology in Perth homes and businesses.

Issue 7, 7 August 2023

The WA government has awarded $100,000 to Murdoch University to test the suitability of a low-carbon concrete in roadworks. The concrete contains Collie flyash, and the grant was awarded under the Collie Futures Small Grants program.

Issue 2, 3 July 2023

Statutory development. A new Queensland amendment regulation increases the rebate for low to moderate income earners who buy a zero-emissions vehicle, and widens the pool of eligible zero-emissions vehicles.

The ACT and federal governments have announced a $3.6 million scheme to incentivise rooftop solar installations on apartment blocks in the ACT. Owners corporation committees will be able to access up to $100,000 for rooftop solar, consisting of a grant and interest-free loan.

Issue 1, 26 June 2023

Queensland Planning Minister Steven Miles has refused part of a Wanless development application to establish a recycling park in Ipswich. The Minister has approved the resource recovery facility and waste transfer station and refused the landfill component.

Test issue, 20 June 2023

The Senate Economics References Committee has launched a new inquiry into Australia's residential electrification efforts, which will report by the last sitting day of 2024.