"More than a billion dollars for local hubs in hydrogen and carbon capture and storage, and for international clean technology collaboration, has the potential to get multiple useful trial projects up and running, building local experience and developing collaborations with our trading partners. The hydrogen announcement in particular is very similar to a measure proposed by Ai Group in our Federal Budget submission, and is welcome and logical given the strong response to last year's hydrogen grant funding round. There is tremendous industry interest in the opportunities around hydrogen as a local fuel, an export earner, and an input to other products like chemicals and steel.
"But as useful as these initiatives are, getting to net zero emissions is a challenging puzzle. Like any jigsaw it will be easier to solve with some corner pieces in place.
"One would be the more formal adoption of a clear guiding goal of net zero national emissions by 2050. Another is a big Federal push on energy efficiency, to boost industry performance and level up State initiatives. A third would be the development of policies that fill the clean technology deployment gap. Cash grants can help expensive technologies get demonstrated. Concessional finance can help near-commercial technologies expand. But in between lies a lot of heavy-lifting – policies to underpin the mass deployment that will drive down clean technologies' costs.
"Policies like Australia's RET did that heavy-lifting for renewables. What will drive mass take-up of hydrogen, CCS, clean materials and the many other technologies that will help us reach net zero? The bold announcements emerging from major economies in the run-up to President Biden's climate summit this week suggest there will be much to collaborate on and learn from. Further international commitments can be expected around the G7 meeting in June and the Glasgow conference in November.
"Australia should keep at it. We won't be solving this problem alone," Mr Willox said.
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