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Tech towards net zero competitiveness comes into sharper focus

The discussion draft of the Federal Government’s Technology Investment Roadmap is an important step in charting Australia’s path to net zero emissions, Australian Industry Group Chief Executive Innes Willox said today.

“In the long term Australia’s prosperity hinges on our competitiveness in a net-zero-emissions world, our success in seizing new opportunities and our commitment to bring existing industries communities and workers along.

“New and improved technologies and practices for low- zero- and negative-emissions will be vital to building new competitive advantage. The draft Roadmap does a good job of identifying the breadth of relevant options that will help across the economy, including in the so-called ‘hard to abate’ sectors with emissions that can’t easily be displaced by clean electricity. It is clearer than ever that Australia can make the transition to net zero – though exactly which mix of technologies will prevail remains uncertain. That argues in favour of climate policy mechanisms that are technology-neutral and value all emissions reductions; and investment portfolios that spread bets broadly.

“Industry will examine the Roadmap in detail and provide feedback. However there are three steps that will help get the most out of the evolving Roadmap.

“First, the guiding vision behind the Roadmap and wider policy needs to be even clearer. Australia’s national interest lies in global success in limiting climate change through net zero emissions by 2050; and in building global competitive advantage in a net zero emissions world.

“Second, the resources for investment in technology development, demonstration and commercialization need to be equal to the scope and economic centrality of this task. The Government is signaling that it will build on its success with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation by extending their lives and their ambit to cover more of the technologies and sectors needed for a clean economy. That is all to the good; but the capital and funding required to meaningfully address grid integration of renewables, hydrogen, efficiency, carbon capture utilization and storage and the many other topics in the Roadmap is large. Prioritising between more- and less-promising technologies is important, but the discipline of an economy-wide net zero ambition requires options for every sector. The extension of ARENA and CEFC will require a large commitment in the next Budget or before.

“Finally, better technology alone won’t drive the investment and transformation we need for success. Across each sector and the economy as a whole, policy mechanisms and markets will need to be aligned to value emissions reductions and to scale up the opportunities that technologists provide – and those clean technologies that are already well-developed. That is not the job of the Roadmap, but a task for electricity market reform, the implementation of the King Review recommendations, pandemic recovery policy and much more at all levels of government and across all portfolios.

“Like the proverbial statue waiting to be revealed within a block of marble, Australia’s future lies in the matrix of technologies the Government has set out for discussion. Our job is to chisel away at it – this year and every year for decades to come – and sculpt the prosperous, inclusive and clean economy we all want,” Mr Willox said.


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Tony Melville
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