The message from last month’s inaugural Global Clean Energy Action Forum (GCEAF) is that it’s time for action, Climateworks Industry Lead Rob Kelly says.

Rob travelled to Pittsburgh, USA for the forum, joining an Australian delegation led by Australian Minister for Energy and Climate Change Chris Bowen.

The GCEAF brings together the Clean Energy Ministerial, an annual gathering of energy ministers from more than 20 nations, and Mission Innovation, a forum of 22 countries and the European Commission which aims to make clean energy ‘attractive, affordable and accessible’.

Both Mission Innovation and the Clean Energy Ministerial, Rob said, are ‘ways for government-level action to drive the clean energy transition’.

‘My aim in going was to really understand what is happening at a global level in terms of action on climate, and Australia’s potential role in it,’ he said.

Australia wanting to lead, panel hears

Rob’s first official engagement in Pittsburgh was to s peak on a panel opened by Minister Bowen, which, Rob said, was an opportunity to hear directly from the Minister about the Government’s Powering Australia plan.

Rob Kelly smiles. Green background
Rob Kelly

The plan is a funding and policy package designed to reduce emissions while taking advantage of economic opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

‘My key takeaway was really that Australia is wanting to act and wanting to lead,’ Rob said.

Rob said his own message when speaking at the event was ‘that this is possible’.

‘Australia can reach net zero emissions and can do it effectively,’ Rob said.

‘It will be important for all sectors to decarbonise, particularly for Australia’s heavy industry sectors given they make up a large proportion of the country’s economy, emissions and exports.

‘This is a regional transition – it’s essential for us to drive decarbonisation in our key regions,’ he said.

He outlined for the audience some of the findings of the ‘Setting up industrial regions for net zero’ report prepared by Climateworks and Climate-KIC Australia for the Australian Industry Energy Transitions Initiative (Australian Industry ETI).

The Australian Industry ETI brings together key industry and finance participants to accelerate action towards achieving net-zero emissions.

The report finds it is possible for five major Australian industrial regions — the Pilbara, Kwinana, Hunter, Illawarra and Gladstone – to achieve an 88 percent reduction in their current emissions.

This would be equivalent to removing all emissions from cars and light commercial vehicles across Australia.

Australian clean energy technologies on show

Rob also hosted a session where leading Australian low emissions technology companies pitched solutions in energy management, hydrogen storage and carbon capture.

‘It shows that there’s a lot of great innovation happening in Australia,’ Rob said.

Rob said Climateworks studies have underscored the power of these kind of technological breakthroughs.

‘What we’ve seen from doing our decarbonisation studies over the past decade is that technology often exceeds expectations and enables us to get to net zero and decarbonise much faster [than expected],’ he said..

‘Rest of the world is acting’

Rob said the event provided a valuable insight into the scale of climate action globally.

He said the forum was held in the wake of the US passing the Inflation Reduction Act which includes US$329 billion in climate and clean energy spending.

The US has already opened a US$7 billion program to create regional clean hydrogen hubs.

“They’re looking to set up 10 hydrogen hubs,’ Rob said.

‘It sets a high benchmark for the action needed if Australia is to lead and become a renewable energy superpower.’

Read more on climate solutions: