In a 13th May article by the Australian Financial Review, AGL’s CEO Graeme Hunt did not appear to support the early closure of coal power plants in Australia. Hunt instead emphasized the costs to transition away and replace coal power.
In a 7th May Drive news article, Vinesh Bhindi, Managing Director of Mazda Australia, appeared unsupportive of the electrification of road transportation, stating that: "In Australia the internal combustion engine – like in many other parts of the world – still has a way to go.” Referring to ICE bans in other markets, he said that "Australia is in a different place and there are many other parts of the world that are going to be different".
In a 22nd April interview, Woodside CEO Meg O’Neill stated that Australia should consider reviving stalled mega fossil gas projects in the Timor Sea and Western Australia as the world moves away from Russian exports. She added ‘It’s no longer about the bottom line, it’s about doing what’s right’ and ‘demands from activists for oil and gas to “go away overnight” were not pragmatic’.
On the 25th March, Santos gave testimony at the senate inquiry in to oil and gas exploration at the Beetaloo Basin. The company stated that fossil gas will continue to play an important role for ‘at least the next two decades’, and appeared to support the continuation of fossil fuel subsidies to ‘accelerate the development of new natural gas sources’. The company also stated how its fossil gas can reduce energy poverty in Asia and contribute to the UN’s sustainable development goals.
On 21st March, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Woodside had commissioned the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to produce a report on emission levels from additional LNG in Asia. The report found that increasing gas supply could prolong coal, displace renewables and increase emissions. The report was shelved by Woodside, and they simultaneously continued to claim that increasing LNG would reduce emissions.
In a March 3rd media release, Queensland Resources Council Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane called for the approval of the New Acland Mine Stage 3 project, which will expand this Queensland coal mine. Macfarlane stated that “the world, especially Europe, needs Queensland’s high-quality commodities now more than ever”, and that Queensland coal has a role to play in energy security.
The Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) CEO Andrew McConville called the decision by the NSW government to effectively ban offshore exploration as ‘really short-sighted’, adding that “A blanket ban on exploration and development of valuable resources without consultation with the industry and without reference to the already well-established regulatory framework is politically disappointing and policy light.”
Delta Electricity, Origin Energy, AGL all appeared to respond negatively to the Australian Energy Market Operators (AOMC) consultation on the Integrated System Plan (ISP), a roadmap for the whole energy system, which includes a net zero by 2050 target in its remit.
The companies did not appear to support the most ambitious scenarios presented by the AOMC for the 2022 ISP. Delta Electricity appeared to oppose the notion that coal-fired generators would close sooner than expected, while Origin stated there was a ‘disconnect’ between the AEMO’s models and what can be practically achieved.
Separately, AGL moved its coal generator closure dates to 2045, 13 years after the AEMO ‘step change’ scenario envisages, with AGL CEO Graeme Hunt describing the models as ‘not credible’
The Clean Energy Council (CEC) advocated for the Tasmanian government to phase-out fossil gas use in the state by 2030 to match its net zero target and pushed for rapid electrification in its consultation submission on the Future Gas Strategy.
The Business Council of Australia’s CEO Jennifer Westacott welcomed the Labor Party’s climate plan, as well as support for an increased 2030 GHG emission reduction target. While she did state support for Labor’s plan, she also stated that climate policies should ‘take advantage of Australia’s natural resources’ without stating specifics.
The Business Council of Australia, Ai Group and Australian Energy Council, through their membership to the Australian Climate Roundtable, released a statement urging the Australian government to build on its 2050 target and to raise ambition.
Specifically, they state that achieving the emissions goals set out at the Paris Agreement was vital for the future of Australian prosperity while also advocating for an increase to Australia’s 2030 NDC target as well as federal policy to help achieve net zero emissions, while stressing that failure to do this could harm competitiveness and result in Australia being left behind in a decarbonized world.
The Business Council of Australia pledged its support for a greenhouse gas reduction target of 46-50% by 2030. This marks a change of tune from the association, having described a 45% target as 'economy wrecking 'back in 2018. However, the energy minister Angus Taylor quickly rejected this call and likened it to a carbon tax.
The consultation responses to Victoria’s Gas Substitution Roadmap were released, The roadmap aims to decarbonize Victoria’s energy network in order for it to achieve it's net-zero by 2050 target. The industry-response however appears to be widely negative, with only 2 out of the 11 entities covered by InfluenceMap supporting a phase-out of natural gas, the Australian Energy Council and the Clean Energy Council, with also a general lukewarm response for hydrogen (6) and biogas (7), and an even less enthusiastic response to electrification (4).
There has been a mixed response to the EU Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) by Australian industry groups. ABC News reported on July 16th that Minerals Council of Australia CEO, Tania Constable, heavily criticized the CBAM stating that “achieving net-zero emissions requires a concerted effort on new technologies, not trade protection.” Ai Group CEO, Innes Willox, challenged the claim that the CBAM amounts to protectionism, and also appeared to support a “ramp down” in free emissions allowances under the mechanism, as reported by AFR on July 15th. In the same article, Carbon Market Institute CEO, John Connor, did not take a clear position on the CBAM, but warned of its indirect impact on Asian markets as other countries develop their own “punitive mechanisms” in response.
The Australian resource sector has released a joint statement calling on the federal government to pass amendments to the Environmental Protection And Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act which is to be debated in parliament this week. An independent review in to the bill last year concluded that it was in urgent need of reform, however the government has adopted only a few of the 38 suggestions provided by the review. The reforms have been critisized by academics who argue it will weaken the policy, and only speed up the approval process for new resource projects, and would provide little additional environmental protection.
Whitehaven CEO Paul Flynn published a guest article in the Financial Review on 18th May, titled “There is no green energy transition without coal to back it up”. In the article, Flynn stated that Australian coal and gas have a vital role to play in the country’s energy transition, supported a technology neutral transition, and appeared unsupportive of the use of renewables in Europe in response to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
In a May 5th Financial Review article, Rio Tinto CEO, Jakob Stausholm, stated that Australia is “not developing renewable energy fast enough” and stressed that the country needs to focus on what it can do to stimulate the development of renewable energy. Stausholm also appeared to support the closure of coal-fired power stations in Australia. This comes at the same time that Rio Tinto’s climate action plan saw opposition from shareholders, who noted that the company’s scope 3 emissions dwarf its operational emissions.
In a 19th April report by Mining Weekly, the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies, Minerals Council Australia, and the Chamber of Minerals and Energy Western Australia appeared to support Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s pledge to halt any additional carbon taxes in the mining sector should the Coalition government remain in power. This follows a package of campaign promises from Morrison, including a $50-million investment in domestic mineral supply-chains.
On the 25th March, Origin gave testimony at the senate inquiry into oil and gas exploration at the Beetaloo Basin, in which it appeared to support the long-term role of fossil gas in the energy mix, as well as stating support for fossil fuel subsidies.
In a report released on the 23rd February by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources titled 'Global Resources Strategy Commodity Report: Liquefied Natural Gas', APPEA provided a two-page contribution titled 'Think LNG, Think Australia' where it promoted the role of LNG in Australia, citing the demand from Asia, stable investment environments and its contribution to 'cleaner' energy as reasons why Australia should invest in becoming an LNG exporter. It also adds that Australia should 'enhance' its ability to attract investment in its fossil gas projects.
In a March 3rd news article, ABC News reported that Ian Macfarlane, the chief executive of Queensland Resources Council (QRC), believed that domestic Australian coal-fired power stations could be closed within a decade. Macfarlane said that “domestic coal-fired generation is rapidly approaching the time when it will close and that might be within the decade”, particularly considering the accelerated closure of other stations across Australia.
This admission is unprecedented, particularly as QRC has consistently supported coal in the energy mix, including in a February 2022 press release wherein Macfarlane stated that the council was engaging with government to support coal and gas under Queensland’s draft Resources Industry Development Plan.
The Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) released an ‘election platform’ that called for all parties in South Australia to recognize a key role for fossil gas in a clean energy future and to safeguard the investment environment in the run-up to the state election in mid-March.
Santos has become the first company in the world to ‘book’ CO2 storage capacity from its new Moomba CCS project, with Santos CEO Kevin Gallagher stating that CCS is a ‘critical technology’ needed to achieve global emissions goals. Santos will also be eligible to sell carbon credits generated from Moomba CCS back to the federal government, or to the private market.
The Australian Petroleum and Production and Exploration Association, or APPEA, stated that natural gas and blue hydrogen should be the centrepiece of this year’s Australian budget, claiming an investment allowance for fossil projects, tax incentives and new technology can unlock the path to net zero emissions by 2050.
In a press release, it was unclear whether the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) supported Labor’s Powering Australia Plan. It acknowledged the increased greenhouse gas reduction target without expressing a position, but appeared to support the clarity the plan offered. Nevertheless, APPEA urged the need to attach conditions to the plan's ambition, such as policy must secure economic growth, and appeared to support provisions to protect trade-exposed industry, including the LNG sector. APPEA also appeared to advocate for the use of international credits in the Safeguard Mechanism, as well as stating the scheme should allow for the continued investment in oil and gas.
In response to Australia’s announcement of a net-zero by 2050 target, Whitehaven Coal has called for continued investment in fossil fuels, including coal, for decades. Whitehaven Coal Chairman, Mark Vaile, highlighted the global energy crisis to emphasize the risks of shifting away from coal as part of Australia’s net-zero push.
In September 2021, Bluescope Steel published a Climate Action Report strongly supporting policy measures to decarbonize the steel industry in Australia, including increased hydrogen production and renewable electricity, but stressed that government regulation must avoid carbon leakage.
The Australian Financial Review has reported that several Australian energy and utility companies, including CLP Holdings (EnergyAustralia), Delta Electricity, Origin Energy and Alinta Energy have sent a letter to policymakers stating support for government reform that would pay coal and gas generators to guarantee future capacity, with a likelihood to continue a role for coal in the energy mix.
Both APPEA and Woodside submitted comments to the Inquiry into the prudential regulation of investment in Australia’s export industries, with Woodside warning against any restriction on capital on LNG would be detrimental to Australia’s long-term interests. While APPEA stated that Australia’s natural gas resources need to be developed to deliver on it’s Paris Agreement commitments, and added that substantial amounts of capital would be required to do so which is placed under risk by ‘incomplete information and a lack of understanding of the opportunity Australia can play, or of the negative impact constraining that capital will have on our ability to meet those objectives’ and that ‘information asymmetry by the broader finance sector, fuelled by the political agendas of shareholder activists, risks creating a capital drought’.
APPEA released a press release attempting to play down the IEA’s net-zero report. APPEA CEO Mr McConville stated that the net-zero emissions (NZE) scenario is just one possible scenario and that negative emissions will allow for the construction of future oil and gas fields.
In a May 17th Australian Financial Review article, APPEA chairman Ian Davies reportedly advocated for investments in new oil and gas developments at the current APPEA conference. He stated that as a net importer of oil, Australia should invest in new oil developments to ensure energy security, while also advocating for current refineries to remain open.
On May 2nd, the Daily Telegraph published an article discussing AdBri’s position on Labor’s proposals for Australia’s Safeguard Mechanism. AdBri CEO Nick Miller appeared unsupportive of Labor’s proposal to strengthen the Safeguard Mechanism, with the article stating that the company was “cautious” about the proposal. Miller stated that, since the cement and steel industries are hard to abate sectors, changes to the Safeguard Mechanism need to be “very carefully thought through” to ensure that investments in the sectors are not stifled.
On March 30th, Mining Weekly reported that Queensland Resources Council (QRC) CEO Ian Macfarlane supported the Australian federal government’s 2022/23 budget, specifically backing the government’s commitment to develop a reliable supply of domestic gas. Macfarlane appeared to support an increase in gas in the energy mix, citing that current “geopolitical uncertainty” supports the case for more local supply chains of gas.
On the 16th of March, the Financial Review reported that the Australian Energy Council (AEC) opposed Victoria’s target of generating 20 per cent of its energy from offshore wind within a decade. AEC stated that the target would drive up energy prices, and that pursuing it would negatively affect public support for decarbonization.
On 9th March, Australian Mining reported that the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia supported the draft of a new bill titled the Greenhouse Gas Storage and Transport Bill. This bill aims to support the development of emission reduction technologies such as carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) and mineral carbonation in Western Australia.
Asia Natural Gas and Energy Association (ANGEA) Chairman and President of Chevron Eurasia Pacific Nigel Hearne stated support for the Australian government’s ‘Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Commodities Report’ which called for increased trade and investment in Australia’s LNG sector. In the statement, Chairman Hearne called LNG an ‘affordable and reliable energy’ that would be ‘fundamental to achieving regional decarbonization objectives’.
The Clean Energy Council, Iberdrola and Fortescue Metals Group all responded positively to the Australian Energy Market Operators consultation on the Integrated System Plan, a roadmap for the whole energy system, which includes a net zero by 2050 target in its remit. They each stated support for the most ambitious pathways that would result in net zero emissions in the energy sector being achieved by 2035 and coal being phased-out even sooner than expected.
In a February 2022 press release, CEO Ian Macfarlane stated that the Queensland Resources Council is engaging with the State Government to support coal and gas under Queensland’s draft Resources Industry Development Plan (RIDP), alongside new technologies such as hydrogen and ammonia. The RIDP, currently under consultation, sets out a vision for Queensland’s resources industry over the next 30 years.
The CEO of the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group), Innes Willox, supported the Labor Party’s climate plan, while also supporting their proposed increased greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 43% by 2030. He also stated support for the baselines in the Safeguard Mechanism to be reduced to aid abatement.
Santos CEO Kevin Gallagher was reported by The Guardian to have supported the National Gas Infrastructure Plan that was released this week (26th November), which includes the development of at least one new gas basin in the country. He stated that 'The scarcity of new developments on the east coast is frightening' and failure to unlock new domestic gas supplies in Australia would lead to increased imports.
There was broad support for Australia’s net zero ‘plan’ that was finally confirmed this week. The countries top fossil fuel association, APPEA, supported the target but also stressed that increased natural gas exploration would be required to achieve it. The government has not updated its NDC’s for 2030 which are considerable lower compared to similar nations, and only the Ai Group and Clean Energy Council stressed the need for the Australian government to set a higher NDC.
CBI has welcomed the UK Hydrogen Strategy, applauding it as a roadmap for “low-carbon hydrogen” that will be vital for carbon-intensive sectors. It also advocated for the Government to consider using business rates exemptions to incentivize energy efficiency measures.
APPEA again stated its support to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) remit being expanded to cover CCS. The move was attempted in June but lost in the senate, now the government has made minor amendments and is trying again, although it is still likely to be heavily contested in the senate once more.
The Minerals Council of Australia did not support the decision by the Australian Senate to vote down proposals to water down the mandate of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). Energy Minister Angus Taylor had proposed to expand ARENA’s remit beyond renewables to fund the development of carbon capture and storage and “blue” hydrogen produced with gas.
Both the Australian Pipelines and Gas Association (APGA) and Santos have stated their support for the National Gas Infrastructure Plan (NGIP)interim report that was released this week). The NGIP is a proposed taxpayer-funded scheme being developed by the Federal Government to build new gas pipelines, and is a major part of the Morrison governments ‘Gas-Fired Recovery’.
This Lobbying Update provides details of corporate lobbying on key policies in 2021 thus far, including the Victorian Gas Substitution Roadmap, the inquiry into the prudential regulation of investment in Australia's export industries, the gas-fired recovery plan, the remit expansion to ARENA, and post 2025 market design options. InfluenceMap will continue to provide corporate lobbying updates regularly on this platform.