Clean technology plan a strong limb of climate strategy

“The inaugural Low Emissions Technology Statement picks a strong set of promising areas for innovation; once coupled with a clear guiding vision and technology-neutral policy frameworks for mass takeup, it will help Australia build new economic advantages on the road to net zero emissions,” Innes Willox, chief executive of the national employer Association Ai Group, said today.

“The plunging cost and increasing capability of wind, solar, batteries and electric vehicles has changed the game for emissions reduction and Australian opportunity. Achieving deep emissions cuts in electricity generation and road transport is now clearly vastly cheaper than we thought just a decade ago. It makes sense to accelerate other clean technologies to help similarly transform the prospects of the rest of our economy: heavy industry, heavy transport, agriculture, and more.

“The technologies prioritised in this first roadmap are highly prospective. Hydrogen made with electrolysis or carbon capture and storage can feed industry and fuel transport in Australia and worldwide. Energy storage is one of the key enablers for extremely high levels of variable renewable generation. Australian metals manufacturing could be much bigger in the clean energy future than today. Carbon capture and storage is one of a handful of options for heavy industry emissions. Soil carbon has tantalising potential to help offset residual emissions and get to net zero.

“Other clean technologies have large potential too, from energy efficiency and electrification to ongoing innovation in renewables. It will be important to keep bodies like ARENA and CEFC open to good opportunities wherever they may be found, and to keep iterating the technology strategy as the landscape changes.

“Coupled with the substantial funding announced recently for a revitalised ARENA and expanded CEFC, the technology pillar of Australia’s emissions reduction strategy is coming together well. Ai Group encourages the Parliament to support legislation to deliver these initiatives.

“More pillars will also be needed. Technology investment platforms are important to lower costs, but they need a clear vision to guide them and technology-neutral policy frameworks to underpin private investment and mass uptake.

“The Long Term Strategy that Australia will take to the Glasgow climate conference next year is the perfect opportunity to articulate a sharper vision that can inform the technology strategy and the rest of public policy.

“Ai Group recently laid out a model vision:

“Climate change is a large and intensifying threat to Australians. It is in our national interest to drive successful global efforts to limit climate change; to contribute to that success by achieving net zero emissions by 2050; to safely manage the change we cannot avoid; and to increase our competitiveness and shared prosperity in the process. Building a new energy advantage is critical to seize new opportunities while ensuring a fair and successful transition for existing industries, workers and communities. Achieving this vision requires coordination across all areas of public policy and investment.

“These goals will be eased by the cheaper more capable clean technologies the Government prioritised today. Taking those technologies to world scale will be eased by investable policy frameworks that value abatement and other critical outcomes like reliability and price in a technology-neutral way. The Emissions Reduction Fund has done some of that for a narrow range of activities so far. To get transformative private investment we will need further reform to the ERF and the Safeguard Mechanism, and additional frameworks for power, transport and other sectors. Scale-up itself can accelerate cost reductions, as we have seen with renewables-focussed policies.

“With technology, policy and private investment pulling together, Australia will have bright prospects of a prosperous future and a successful response to climate change,” Mr Willox said.

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