We have expanded the list of climate policies we assess company engagement with to incorporate land-use related policy, referring to legislative or regulatory measures to enhance and protect ecosystems and land where carbon is being stored. Assessments under this category are currently underweighted in terms of their contribution to the overall company metrics. This weighting will be progressively increased over the next 6 months.
We adjusted the terminology used to describe the queries running down the left-hand side of our scoring matrix and added additional explanatory text to the info-boxes. This has no impact on the scores and methodology. It has been done following user feedback to improve clarity.
Climate Policy Engagement Overview: The Australian Energy Council (AEC) displays high-level engagement on climate change policy. The association communicates positive top-line messaging for climate action and has mixed engagement on specific climate-related regulations, broadly supporting national approaches to emissions reduction over state-based policies. The AEC likewise adopts a mixed position on the energy transition, supporting electrification and an increase in renewables, whilst also appearing to not fully support the transition away from fossil fuels.
Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: The AEC communicates positive top-line messaging on climate policy. It has issued support for Australia’s achievement of net-zero emissions by 2050 and for the adoption of an interim emissions target of 55 per cent by 2035, as expressed in a June 2022 press release from Chief Executive Sarah McNamara. The AEC also issued support for Australia’s Climate Change Bill 2022, which legislates Australia’s 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 43%, in an August 2022 consultation submission. The association likewise stated support for the goals of the Paris Agreement in an August 2022 joint Australian Climate Roundtable submission.
Engagement with Climate-Related Regulations: The AEC displays mixed engagement on specific climate-related regulations in Australia, broadly supporting national-based approaches while appearing unsupportive of state-based policies. The association communicated support for reforms to Australia’s Safeguard Mechanism in a February 2023 consultation response, with Chief Executive Sarah McNamara reiterating this support in a March 2023 press release welcoming the passage of the Safeguard Mechanism Bill.
The AEC appears to have consistently opposed state-based climate-related regulations in Australia in 2022-23, emphasizing concerns regarding the duplication of existing national decarbonization policies. In a January 2023 press release, Chief Executive Sarah McNamara appeared to be unsupportive of NSW’s Climate Change Policy and Action Plan, stating that “having a state-based regulator setting carbon targets is not ideal as it risks duplicating existing national decarbonization policies”. The AEC likewise appeared to oppose the introduction of an environmental objective into Western Australia’s State Electricity Objective in a March 2023 consultation submission, and also appeared unsupportive of Victoria’s Offshore Wind Policy in its June 2022 submission to the Directions Paper.
Positioning on Energy Transition: The AEC’s positioning on the energy transition appears to be mixed, with the association issuing support for electrification and an increase in renewables, whilst also appearing to support a continued role for fossil fuels in the energy mix. The AEC appeared to back a significant uptake of renewables in the energy mix in an April 2021 blog post, while in a December 2022 press release Chief Executive Sarah McNamara communicated support for increased electrification to support emissions reduction. The association also appeared to issue support for the transition from fossil gas to electrification in its June 2022 submission to Victoria’s Gas Substitution Roadmap. Additionally, the AEC also appeared to back the electrification of transportation in Australia in its October 2022 response to the National Electric Vehicle Strategy, advocating for the expansion of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure to support EV adoption.
However, the AEC also appears to support a continued role for both coal and fossil gas in the energy mix. In a December 2022 press release, Chief Executive Sara McNamara expressed concern over the early retirement of coal assets in Victoria, emphasizing potential impacts to market and investor confidence. The AEC also appeared to support a continued role for coal and fossil gas in the energy mix in its September 2022 Statement of Strategic Intent, stating that “coal and gas will continue to provide capacity to manage the risk of high wholesale prices over the medium term”. The AEC appeared to reinforce this support for fossil gas in a February 2023 Australian Financial Review article, with Chief Executive Sarah McNamara stating that “ensuring reliable gas supplies into the future will help affordability and allow gas generation to support the exit of coal plans and the introduction of more renewables”.