The Climate Council welcomes the Australian Government’s commitment to tackling Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, including by rapidly shifting to renewable power; incentivising the uptake of electric vehicles; and implementing new fuel emissions standards. Especially welcome is the commitment from the federal government to accelerate Australia’s transition from a fossil fuel heavyweight to a clean energy superpower.
The world around us is changing fast, as our key trading partners commit to achieving net-zero emissions, and set interim targets to slash emissions over the next decade. Key destination markets for Australian coal and gas – including Japan, Korea, India and China – have set plans to achieve net-zero. Other markets, like the European Union, are setting or considering border tariffs based on carbon content. These shifts have fundamentally changed Australia’s trade and economic interests.
Luckily, Australia is well-placed to thrive in a world shifting toward net-zero emissions. Australia has world-class renewable energy resources and enviable reserves of minerals needed for the electric vehicles, batteries and wind turbines of the future. Our renewable energy advantage also means we can competitively produce zero-carbon versions of commodities the world needs, including steel, aluminium, hydrogen and fertilisers.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says Australia has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to become a renewable energy superpower. He is right. The Business Council of Australia estimates clean export opportunities could generate 395,000 jobs by 2040. With the right policy framework, Australia could grow a new clean energy export mix worth A$333 billion each year, almost triple the value of Australia’s existing fossil fuel exports.
However, ambitious policy is needed to seize these opportunities. We sincerely hope this inquiry will help to inform comprehensive industry and trade-promotion policies that are needed to drive an expansion of clean energy exports. Our submission makes a number of recommendations intended to help accelerate Australia’s transition to a green energy superpower. These recommendations, detailed in full on page 8, are summarised as follows:
1. Invest in climate diplomacy
2. Put climate and energy goals at the centre of Australian trade and foreign policy
3. Set out a comprehensive climate investment plan
4. Integrate industry and trade policy, and ensure they are fully aligned with climate goals
5. Phase out fossil fuel exports, while clean energy exports grow
6. Ensure all Australians benefit from the transition