Net zero pathway for big polluters unveiled in report

Australia’s highest emitting resources industries could transition to net zero and create more than one million jobs if coordinated action to lay the necessary foundations is taken now, a report has found.

Feb 20, 2023, updated Feb 20, 2023
Chris Bowen will reveal findings that there is a way big polluters can achieve net zero emissions. Photo: AAP

Chris Bowen will reveal findings that there is a way big polluters can achieve net zero emissions. Photo: AAP

Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen will launch the final report in a series on industrial decarbonisation pathways, in Sydney on Tuesday.

The report found most crucial to reaching net zero would be strong, effective and coordinated action from government, industry and finance.

The research was collated over the past three years in collaboration with companies that represent around 25 per cent of Australia’s industrial emissions and employ nearly half a million people.

The high emissions supply chains identified are iron and steel, aluminium, other metals, chemicals, and liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Objectives to enable these industries to transition to net zero emissions include accelerating development of, and investment in renewable energy technologies.

The report found renewable energy would be a critical enabler of industrial decarbonisation and the sector’s quick uptake would help with electricity costs.

It also outlines how more than 1.3 million jobs could be created between 2025 and 2050 as Australia transitions to net zero.

Government and industry investment could support up to 64,000 construction jobs per year from 2025 to 2050, plus an additional 129,000 roles in operations and maintenance between 2025 and 2050.

Simon McKeon, chair of the Australian Industry Energy Transitions Initiative, which did the research, said coordinated action and government support would help reduce industry emissions by up to 92 per cent by 2050.

“This is a moment of opportunity to align and focus efforts to create a globally competitive, equitable, net zero emissions industrial economy in Australia,” he said.

“Action is needed now to lay the foundations, capitalise on the opportunities, and avoid more costly emissions reduction measures in the future.”

Meanwhile, key crossbencher David Pocock is continuing consultations on the government’s proposed changes to the safeguard mechanism, which would lower the emissions cap for big polluters.

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Senator Pocock will hold two roundtables on Monday as he continues to negotiate with the government on passing three key pieces of legislation.

The government needs the support of the Greens and two other crossbenchers to pass the mechanism, its housing fund and its manufacturing fund.

Pocock said he would continue to work constructively to get the best outcome from each proposal.

“I am engaging constructively with ministers and fellow crossbenchers on all three,” he said.

The Greens have raised concerns that the changes to the safeguard mechanism won’t stop large polluters, who can buy carbon credits to offset emissions.

Leader Adam Bandt called the offset “a Ponzi scheme”.

But he’s offering the Greens’ support on the condition of a ban on any new coal and gas projects.

Bandt flagged enshrining a climate trigger into law so the environmental impact of new proposals would have to be assessed.


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