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 Lobbying Overview: The Australian Energy Council broadly seems supportive of action against climate change; however, it appears largely in favor of a market-based response to reducing emissions in the energy sector and appears to not fully support the transition away from fossil fuels in electricity generation.
Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: The Australian Energy Council appears mostly positive in its top-line messaging on climate policy. In a June 2022 press release Australian Energy Council CEO Sarah McNamara supported Australia's net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 target, and also endorsed an interim target of 55 percent reduction by 2035. Additionally, the association has consistently supported Australian participation in from 2016 onwards as a member of the Australian Climate Roundtable. In November 2020, Australian Energy Council also seemed to support MP Zali Steggall’s 2020 Climate Change Bill which seeks to legislate a net-zero by 2050 target for Australia.
Its position on the need for climate regulation appears mixed. CEO Sarah McNamara has has maintained the need for a clear and consistent national policy framework on climate, for example in comments from January 2020. However, the AEC appears to not support most state-level policies to respond to climate change, stating in a submission to the Victoria state government from August 2019 “actions taken at the sub-national level are inherently less efficient, ultimately costing the Victorian economy more”. It [824679 expressed a similar position in a submission to a consultation on Tasmania’s Climate Change Act in April 2021, however, in this submission, AEC did express some support for state-level regulations in specific sectors e.g. transport.
Engagement with Climate-Related Regulations: The Australian Energy Council has mixed communications on specific climate-related regulations from 2020-2022. In a March 2022 Financial Review report, the Australian Energy Council was reported to have opposed Victoria’s target of generating 20 per cent of its energy needs from offshore wind within the next decade, stating that the target makes “no sense”. However, in a submission to Victorian Gas Substitution Roadmap consultation paper in August 2021, the council supported government funding to improve energy efficiency. In addition, in a submission to the Climate Change Authority of June 2020, the Australian Energy Council supported broadening the scope of the Emissions Reduction Fund to reduce emissions in the energy sector. The organization also supported the use of electric passenger vehicles in Australia in an April 2022 paper on decarbonizing transport. The Australian Energy Council stated that switching to electric vehicles is one of the “main opportunities for Australia to meet its interim targets”.
Positioning on Energy Transition: The Australian Energy Council shows mixed support for the transition of the energy mix. In AEC analysis from February 2021, it appears to support a significant uptake of renewables into the energy mix but in a statement from April 2021, CEO Sarah McNamara appeared to argue that this transition should be left to market forces. Likewise, in a policy statement from June 2020, the AEC appeared to accept the need to phase out coal-fired power plants but again appeared to argue this should be left to market forces. Furthermore, in August 2020 CEO Sarah McNamara wrote an op-ed supporting a role for natural gas in the energy mix without clear conditions related to abatement with CCS, and in a consultation response also from August 2020, the AEC [562043 appeared to argue in favor of the Crib Point Gas Project, claiming “whilst gas-fired generation does emit some carbon, its presence paradoxically reduces electricity emissions by permitting the retirement of coal whilst maintaining energy security”. However, the AEC does appear to strongly support the electrification of transport, arguing in a letter to the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Parks from February 2020 advocated for government policies (such as stamp duty concessions) to support the electrification. This support for policies at both the state and federal level was reiterated in a response to the consultation on the Future Fuels Strategy in March 2021.