The Business Council of Australia (BCA) last week released a climate strategy, Achieving a Net Zero Economy, which seeks to position Australia to reap an economic dividend of $890 billion and 195,000 jobs over the next 50 years.
The plan would accelerate emissions reduction and seize the first mover advantage, meaning on average Australians would be $5,000 better off per year, and those in the regions would gain the biggest economic benefit.
The BCA said Australia’s biggest trading partners are already making the transition to achieve net-zero emissions and Australian businesses are taking action, as are global capital markets.
BCA Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott believes Australia can achieve a more ambitious 2030 emissions reduction target of between 46 to 50 per cent below 2005 levels.
“Reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 must be done in a way that harnesses Australia’s abundant natural resources to boost exports, drives investment in new technologies and delivers a stronger economy with more jobs.”
Federal Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor acknowledged the BCA’s position but noted the report “…did not explicitly model specific technologies or how much their cost of deployment would need to fall to avoid imposing new costs on the economy,” he said.
“We are a long, long way from seeing enough of the investment in firm power that we need to keep the grid affordable and secure”, Taylor asserted over the weekend.
However, the owner of some of Australia’s most significant gas and electricity infrastructure assets, Jemena, has welcomed BCA’s new climate strategy.
Jemena’s Managing Director, Frank Tudor, says the strategy outlines a sensible pathway towards a net-zero future which will create jobs and strengthen the Australian economy.
“This strategy reiterates many of the calls industry has been making which we believe will give investors the certainty and confidence they need to invest in Australia’s energy markets over the long term,” said Mr Tudor.
“By taking a considered approach towards the energy transition, the strategy effectively balances energy reliability and affordability with the need to decarbonise our energy system. The strategy also recognises the central role gas will continue to play throughout the energy transition and into the future as renewable gases are developed and commercialised.”
Mr Tudor welcomed the BCA’s recommendation that a Renewable Gas Target (RGT) be implemented saying it is a key step towards establishing a viable renewable gas industry.
“We are seeing more and more economies across the globe reach agreement on the need to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and the decarbonisation conversation is now considering how we can expedite that timeframe.”
“We know that a Renewable Gas Target of just 10 per cent would remove around 464,000 tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere each year, the equivalent of taking 200,000 cars off the road, and that this can be achieved by 2030. In New South Wales achieving such a target would cost just $5 to $15 per household each year.
“By 2050 we know that if we repurpose our existing gas infrastructure to decarbonise our economy that energy consumers will save between $12 – $14 billion per annum by avoiding the need to build and maintain huge amounts of additional electricity infrastructure.
“A renewable gas target is also the only way we can quickly and meaningfully decarbonise hard-to-abate industries, such as manufacturing, which rely on gas as a crucial feed-stock.”
Mr Tudor said Australia is poised to become a global renewable gas powerhouse, with countries throughout Asia and Europe already indicating interest in sourcing renewable gas such as hydrogen from Australia.
“Australia is blessed with natural resources which make it a frontrunner in the race towards establishing a viable renewable gas export industry, and it is easy to imagine how we can replicate the success of our LNG exports to deliver renewable gas to the rest of the world.”
“This will not only create jobs, many of which will be in regional parts of our country, but will also assist with global decarbonisation efforts in parts of Asia, such as Japan, which are rapidly decarbonising and import large amounts of their energy.”