A microphone before an assembly.

The Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, has outlined updates ahead for the Net Zero 2050 plan, and how a more proactive approach to clean energy and net zero emissions targets is needed.

The address was delivered at the Clean Energy Council conference, where Mr Bowen noted that the Climate Change Authority (CCA) recommended that Australia’s Net Zero 2050 plan be updated and underpinned with plans for major economic sectors. 

Mr Bowen said that Australia’s current 2050 plans, originally outlined by the former Morrison Government, were a “fantasy”, one that assumes future technologies will do the heavy lifting without any effort or investment to bring them about.

Mr Bowen announced that, after listening to advice from the CCA and from Australian and international investors, the Federal Government will be working with industry, the climate movement, experts, unions and the community to develop sectoral decarbonisation plans.

“I’m also delighted that last week in Devonport, Australia’s climate and energy ministers unanimously agreed to lean in and work collaboratively and closely with our Government on delivering the plan,” Mr Bowen said. 

“Each of my Cabinet colleagues will also work closely with their ministerial council colleagues in the work.”

On 18 July, Mr Bowen announced that plans are set to be developed for:

  • Electricity and Energy
  • Industry
  • The Built Environment
  • Agriculture and Land
  • Transport
  • Resources

“The waste sector will be included both in the industry plan and a focus on the circular economy will be a cross-cutting issue for all sectors,” Mr Bowen said. 

“The Climate Change Authority will also receive a reference from Parliament to develop sector pathways which will help inform the plans.

“I have written to the CCA asking them to provide their statutory advice under the Climate Change Act on the 2035 target. I expect to receive this advice in late 2024.

“The sector plans will feed into both our Net Zero 2050 plan and strong 2035 targets which we will lodge in keeping with our Paris commitments.”

Mr Bowen said there will be heavy rounds of engagement with the community on each plan and counts on the Clean Energy Council and its members to participate.

“The level and quality of dialogue and collaboration with industries, experts and citizens will set these plans apart from anything that’s been done before.

“This is a shared endeavour: we must work together to do what’s both possible and practical to stop dangerous climate change and realise the economic opportunities of net zero.

“The end result will be six net zero sectoral plans that are robust, ambitious but achievable, and accepted by the broader community.”

Industry response

The peak body for energy retailers and generators, the Australian Energy Council, welcomed the Federal Government’s proposal to update Australia’s Net Zero 2050 Plan and develop sectoral pathways to reducing emissions.

The AEC’s Chief Executive, Sarah McNamara, said the AEC wholeheartedly supports the Government’s commitment to net zero emissions by 2050 and the need for contributions across sectors of the economy.

“Achieving a 43 per cent emission reduction target by 2030 will necessitate sectors in addition to electricity to begin to decarbonise,” Ms McNamara said. 

“This will require the exploitation of all decarbonising opportunities and technologies. We know that as emissions get closer to net zero, abatement will only become more challenging and more costly, so updating Australia’s Net Zero 2050 Plan now is timely.

“Determining sectoral pathways for key emitters in the economy is critical to the delivery of Net Zero by 2050. The electricity sector continues to lead Australia’s decarbonisation efforts, having already decreased its emissions by 26.9 per cent per cent since their peak in 2009.

“Most of the decline in emissions to 2030 is already projected to come from the electricity sector, when its emissions are expected to be 60 per cent lower than the 2005 baseline.

“The electricity sector looks forward to supporting the Government and other industries to develop effective and efficient approaches that will enable net zero goals to be achieved at least cost,” said Ms McNamara.

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