Address to Diplosphere “Green is the New Black”
Chargé d'affaires, Ms Amy Guihot
3 November 2022
“What is Australia doing to meet its 2030 targets?”
Kia Ora and good evening. It is an honour to be invited to participate in this Diplosphere event, alongside such distinguished speakers, to talk about this vitally important topic.
This year, we have seen a shift in the way Australia is talking about climate action. No longer is the conversation in Australia focussed on the costs of climate change action. Instead, we are hearing about the opportunities, including the economic opportunities, of decarbonisation.
Climate considerations are moving into all areas of Australian policy and our government’s commitment to legislating on climate gives businesses certainty for the future.
Australia is fortunate to have ample sunlight, wind and land, making it a natural producer of renewable energy. Investments in renewable energy are continuing at pace. While household solar has been leading the charge for several years, we are now seeing large-scale wind and solar projects being commissioned, along with larger battery storage projects. Last weekend we saw a first for Australia, with renewables providing 2/3 of the national energy market.
Increasing renewable energy sources will bring down the cost of renewable energy in Australia. That, combined with ready port access, means Australia is an ideal home for the production of hydrogen. Every state and territory in Australia has regions with excellent prospects for hydrogen production.
Following the May Federal Election, the Australian Government set an ambitious new 2030 target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 43 percent below 2005 levels, putting us on track to achieve our target of net zero emissions by 2050.
This new target is a 15 percentage point increase, covering all sectors included in Australia’s national inventory.
In early September, the Australian Parliament passed the Climate Change Act, enshrining this target in legislation. Legislating our targets sends the strongest possible signal of Australia’s commitment to decarbonising our economy.
Earlier this month, the Government announced that Australia has joined the Global Methane Pledge – a voluntary commitment to reduce global methane emissions across all sectors by at least 30% below 2020 levels, by 2030. New Zealand joined this initiative in late 2021.
By adopting the pledge, Australia joins the rest of the world’s major agricultural exporters including the United States, Brazil and Indonesia, in identifying opportunities to reduce emissions in this hard to abate sector.
Australia’s 2030 target is ambitious, but it is also achievable, because there is strong cooperation across all levels of Government and industry.
I’ll now provide a brief overview of Australia’s climate change policies, focussed around the four main emissions sources: energy, transport, industry and agriculture.
Achieving Australia’s climate change targets will require an energy revolution. We are investing $20 billion in modernising Australia’s electricity grid, unlocking $58 billion of private sector co-finance.
Upgrading energy infrastructure is crucial to success. Investment in community batteries across Australia will support energy storage, cut emissions and reduce prices for consumers. $200m is being invested to deliver hundreds of community batteries and solar banks right across Australia, to spread the benefits of the energy transition.
Our plan will see the portion of renewable energy in our national energy market increase to 82 per cent by 2030.
This will create secure jobs for Australian workers, driving regional economic development and boosting Australia’s sovereign capability.
In the transport sector, Australia’s first National Electric Vehicle Strategy will accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles and cut car pollution. $500m will be invested in EV charging and refuelling infrastructure.
We are setting the foundations for Australia to be a major hydrogen exporter by partnering with other countries to attract investment, build supply chains and advance research and development.
There are numerous initiatives in the hydrogen space, including supporting exports to Japan through the Australian Clean Hydrogen Trade Program. This year, we saw a world-first with the Suiso Frontier transporting liquefied hydrogen from Victoria to Kobe.
We are also working with Germany on HyGATE, a hydrogen project incubator co-led by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), and on research into hydrogen supply chains under the Australia–Republic of Korea low and zero emissions technology partnership.
We are working with the 215 largest industrial emitters to reduce emissions through the Safeguard Mechanism, which applies caps to emissions at large facilities – those emitting more than 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.
The Safeguard Mechanism covers around half of Australia’s emissions, which mainly come from electricity, mining, oil and gas production, manufacturing, transport and waste facilities.
Emissions will be reduced gradually, providing a predictable framework for industry to transition to the new low emissions economy.
Commonwealth, state and territory Energy Ministers have also committed to working collaboratively on a new agreement to set the vision for the transformation of Australia’s energy sector to net zero by 2050.
We have committed to reduce the emissions of Commonwealth Government agencies to net zero by 2030, with a few exceptions.
Like New Zealand, Australia also needs to address agricultural emissions.
Meat and Livestock Australia has set a target to be carbon neutral by 2030. Greenhouse gas emissions from the Australian red meat industry have fallen by 57% since 2005, primarily through changes in land use management. In the future, the industry will seek to reduce emissions through improvements to grazing management, lot feeding and processing.
The industry will also look to increase carbon storage in grazing lands and develop integrated management systems.
The Australian dairy industry has made a commitment to minimising its environmental footprint, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 30% by 2030.
The Australian Government committed $8 million for the seaweed industry to support commercialisation of the low-emissions livestock feed supplement Asparagopsis.
In addition, $5 million has been provided to fund 11 projects focussed on research for low-emissions feed supplements for grazing animals.
And the Australia government will provide up to $3 billion to support investment in low emissions technologies and component manufacturing, and agricultural methane reduction.
Our Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, has been clear that urgent work is needed for Australia to meet its 2030 target. It’s estimated that we will need to install about forty 7-megawatt wind turbines every month until 2030.
For solar, we still need to install more than 22,000 five hundred-watt panels every day – and 60 million by 2030.
A whole-of-economy effort will be needed to see us achieve net zero. The road ahead won’t be easy and there are many risks we will need to work through. But, Australia is on the path. We have a roadmap to follow. And, we are working rapidly to implement it.