Minister for Climate Change and Energy, the Hon. Chris Bowen MP, says he believes Australia can, with an ‘all-in effort’, decarbonise heavy industry and create jobs across the nation in the process.

The Minister made the comments at an event in Sydney on Monday while launching a report which outlines pathways for heavy industry in Australia to decarbonise, help limit warming to 1.5 degrees and create up to 1.35 million jobs.

The Minister thanked the Australian Energy ETI and report authors for the leadership that went into the report. (Photographer: Cassandra Hannagan)

The ‘Pathways to industrial decarbonisation’ report is the result of a three-year collaboration between some of Australia’s largest companies, as part of the Australian Industry ETI convened by Climateworks Centre and Climate-KIC. The report was prepared for the Australian Industry ETI by Climateworks and CSIRO, in consultation with industry and research partners.

‘A whole-of-society effort’

In launching the report, the Minister acknowledged the size of the challenge presented within its pages.

‘If it was easy, it would have been done by now,’ the Minister said.

‘We’re talking about hard to abate sectors, hard to abate technologies. But it’s absolutely vital and it can be done, as this report indicates.’

The Minister highlighted the importance of regional Australia to the transition, and the opportunities for regional job creation that decarbonisation presents.

He said seizing those opportunities would require an ‘all-in effort’.

‘This is not a whole-of-government effort. This, the fastest transition since the industrial revolution, is and must be a whole-of-society effort,’ he said.

‘And I believe we can do it — and reports like this are important in helping us to.’

‘Years of collaboration’

Chair of the Energy Transitions Commission Lord Adair Turner, who attended the event as part of a multi-country trip meeting with major industrial players, said ‘Pathways to industrial decarbonisation’ was a fascinating and important report.

Lord Adair Turner said the report was ‘hugely important’ for Australia. (Photographer: Cassandra Hannagan)

He praised the report’s ‘nitty gritty’ detail, as well as its vision for an Australia where heavy industry reaches net zero by 2050.

‘It’s that combination of detail and vision that I think makes this a brilliant report,’ Lord Turner said.

In her speech, Climateworks CEO Anna Skarbek outlined some of the findings of the report, including that a pathway to transition Australian industry in line with 1.5 degrees includes a doubling of electricity generation, accelerated investment in technology and targeted place-based approaches in Australia’s industrial regions and sectors.

Anna Skarbek said that, since the start of this work three years ago, global and local investor expectations have risen to the faster end of the Paris Agreement goals. (Photographer: Cassandra Hannagan)

She said that while the report also explored slower pathways, the faster, more coordinated, 1.5 degree aligned pathway ‘results in the lowest electricity prices, the lowest electricity costs long term, and avoids other costs in the coming decades.’

‘These net zero pathways for major industry supply chains are a result of years of collaboration,’ Ms Skarbek said.

‘With the pathways now mapped together, the job is to solve for these challenges and get it done.’

‘The race is on’

Climate-KIC CEO Christopher Lee echoed the event’s theme of collaboration.

‘It’s only really by working together across all sectors of our society, from government, industry, civil society, research and the finance sector, that we will see the sort of systems transformations that are required to deliver on these emissions reductions,’ he said.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller thanked Anna Skarbek, Chris Lee and Australian Industry ETI chair and Monash Chancellor Simon McKeon for their and their organisation’s work on the Australian Industry ETI.

‘ARENA has been very proud to support this initiative right from the early days back in 2020, and it’s great to be here to finally launch this third report.

Left to right: Justin Punch, Darren Miller, Anna Skarbek, Rob Kelly, Hon Chris Bowen MP, Simon McKeon AO, Lord Adair Turner, Christopher Lee. (Photographer: Cassandra Hannagan)

Simon McKeon AO said it was now time to look to the future.

‘As every elite athlete knows, mistakes are made along the way, but the race is always from here on,’ he said.

‘Let’s learn from whatever we haven’t done in the past, but the race is on right now. I think this report provides a pathway to how we race – and how we race hard.’