ClimateWorks Australia responds to the recent federal government releases, including the King Review response, and the Technology Investment Roadmap Discussion Paper announced today by Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor.

“The Technology Investment Roadmap discussion paper recognises the suite of available solutions to reduce our emissions,” says ClimateWorks Australia CEO, Anna Skarbek. “It contains technologies that can achieve net zero emissions in Australia, and we’re hopeful that the process provides sufficient support to achieve rapid increases in their deployment necessary this decade.   

“The technology investment focus across all the sectors is particularly welcomed. There is enormous potential to support large-scale investment in zero-emissions technologies, and send policy signals to catalyse the necessary market responses.

“For instance, our recent research shows that technologies that address emissions are already available and can achieve much of the emissions reductions required across the Australian economy, if deployed at scale,” says Ms Skarbek. 

The federal government’s discussion paper surveys 140 technologies to identify where investment can achieve cost reductions. All of the priority zero-emissions technologies identified in the recently released Decarbonisation Futures report are listed in the discussion paper. 

“We look forward to participating in the discussion paper process to outline the zero-emissions technologies available in all major economic sectors, including where our models show these can eliminate the need for transition technologies.”

ClimateWorks research shows that incentives to deploy and use technologies are just as important as the initial investment in their development. 

“This is especially so when the goal is for zero-emissions technologies to reach universal use as soon as possible. Past experience shows that deployment drives technology improvements in cost and performance,” she says. 

“The government’s intention to invest in technology will make it more attractive to deploy if the early-stage costs are shared. We suggest this investment be paired with policy and procurement commitments to establish market demand. 

“This ‘push and pull’ approach is what investors look for to really commit to mobilising industry supply chains,” says Ms Skarbek. “Many of the technologies important to accelerating emissions reduction are not new or emerging themselves, but their markets are early-stage or small-scale.” 

Ms Skarbek highlights the recognition in the discussion paper that ‘challenges to deployment of cost-saving technologies across the built environment, transport, industry and agriculture is accordingly a priority’.  

ClimateWorks sees scale as the real challenge for the next decade. 

“The climate science requires that emissions halve worldwide by 2030, and our data shows this is achievable here with known technologies,” she said.

“Government economic stimulus programs are well-placed to create new jobs in resilient industries, deliver social benefits such as reduced costs and improved well-being, as well as support these goals and the transition. It’s actually really exciting for Australians if this can be achieved. 

“The good news is that global progress in the past five years has closed the technological gap, making zero emissions possible in all sectors. As a result, Australia still has an opportunity to forge a path to net zero in keeping with the Paris Climate Agreement goal.”

Key findings from recent ClimateWorks research on zero-emissions technologies:

Australia already has the technologies needed to reach net zero emissions before 2050 such as renewable energy, sustainable transport and energy efficiency. 

ClimateWorks Australia’s research Decarbonisation Futures released in April 2020 sets out in detail, sector by sector, what governments, businesses and individuals can do over the next ten years to achieve a net zero emissions future by 2050.

The research shows Australia can immediately accelerate the deployment of mature and demonstration zero-emissions solutions, like renewable energy and electric vehicles.

In the electricity sector, this means a transition to 100 per cent renewable energy.

In the transport sector, this means accelerating mature solutions like public transport, walking and cycling, as well as renewable-powered electric vehicles. 

Zero-emissions solutions are available to be scaled today. But the transition requires strong action by governments, businesses and individuals. By setting targets immediately, decision-makers can support technology development, demonstration and deployment and capitalise on opportunities for investment.

At the same time, Australia can invest in the rapid development and commercialisation of zero-emissions emerging solutions like renewable hydrogen and green steel for harder-to-abate sectors such as heavy industry, agriculture and land. 

On the King Review response, Anna Skarbek says: 

“Behind the government’s careful language, we can see the first substantive movement on climate policy for some time. Our research shows us that the key challenge for government, business and the community is to scale up and accelerate deployment of mature and demonstrated solutions, including renewable energy but also across all sectors such as agriculture and industry. We welcome the focus on improving incentives for these sectors.”

She said the King Review recommendations accepted by Minister Taylor aim, for instance, to give industry greater incentive to embrace new climate solutions as they emerge, something that’s necessary for decarbonisation to proceed on track. 

Much of the commentary on the response to the King Review has focussed on the government’s new willingness to allow the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to support loans for carbon capture and storage (CCS).

The modelling in Decarbonisation Futures shows that CCS will be needed to play a legitimate role in the decarbonisation of harder to abate sectors like heavy industry, a point accepted by both the International Energy Agency and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. ClimateWorks’ recent research found that CCS on electricity supply was not competitive with renewables.

“Currently where there are no other solutions or substitutes, CCS will be necessary in capturing non-energy emissions such as the fugitive methane from gas extraction and process emissions from cement, for example,” Ms Skarbek said.

The King Review also made constructive recommendations to improve the uptake of energy efficiency in buildings and in industry, and to improve agriculture practices including increased soil carbon, which were supported by government. 

“Our evidence has long shown the value of these measures and the need for greater incentives to accelerate them. We welcome this progress.”