Canberra is catching up with the commodities industry

But Anthony Albanese will not admit this, even though the Business Council of Australia had already expressed support last year for a slightly higher target of 46 to 50 percent by 2030. For Labour, meeting its electoral obligations is a crucial aspect of political protection. for a new government.

And after the electoral decimation suffered by the Liberal party, the few remaining moderate Liberal MPs are likely to support Labour’s cause as well. So even if the Greens were tempted to take advantage of their new status in the Senate, it wouldn’t block Labor’s policy.

But the commercial reality is that major commodities companies have already worked hard to reduce more than 43 percent of their own operations by 2030 on their way to zero emissions by 2050.

This is despite the lack of viable alternatives to diesel fuel for large trucks that remain the biggest hurdle at mining sites to date.

Problem of scope 3 emissions

Even Fortescue Metals is not immune to this dilemma, despite Andrew Forrest’s stated willingness — not shared by his competitors — to waive the diesel fuel discount for miners in exchange for more government support for green hydrogen.

But all resource companies are rapidly turning to solar and wind generation for their power needs, while continuing to experiment with batteries and hydrogen in the hopes of large-scale technology breakthroughs.

That does not solve the problem of so-called ‘scope 3’ emissions – emissions created by customers for the export of resources, such as liquefied natural gas or iron ore.

For businesses, this means that the arrival of a federal Labor government is actually the least of environmental problems they now have to solve. It’s much more about meeting the demands of investors and the community. That includes the battle over the proposed split from AGL.

As Chanticleer noted, companies have had to address the emergence of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues as a shareholder priority, well ahead of governments.

Corporate codes aimed at encouraging inclusion and diversity, accountability, transparency and action against climate change are much more detailed than political agendas for “integrity” in government.

That’s why BHP started talking about “assistance” or working with customers a few years ago to reduce their scope 3 emissions and others have followed suit.

But the Labor government is certainly not talking about Canberra regulating those emissions, given the importance of such exports to the Australian budget and economy. Similarly, Labour’s determination to tighten the “guarantee mechanism” designed to penalize large emitters for crossing a baseline of emissions is also more flexible when it comes to trade-exposed sectors – such as the resource industry.

Prime Ministers Mark McGowan and Annastacia Palaszczuk, for example, are Albanian Labor colleagues, but they would quickly distance themselves if Federal Labor took a serious step to halt or postpone major resource projects in Western Australia or Queensland.

The more significant changes coming out of Canberra are likely to be more nuanced, including improvements in processes, transparency and mandatory emissions reporting, as well as a review of the offset market – and encouraging rhetoric.

John Connor of the Carbon Market Institute says aligning government policies with private sector initiatives is still very important given the need for faster progress, including in difficult areas such as transportation, agriculture and industry, rather than just the current focus on the electricity sector. market.

Government promises new EPA

Resource companies will certainly heed Labor’s promise of a new, independent environmental protection authority in the event that proves more difficult than existing cooperation with federal environmental laws. Former Labor Environment spokeswoman Terri Butler announced the watchdog the day before she lost her Brisbane seat to the Greens on Saturday. Too late.

But companies already need approval from state environmental agencies, while state politicians will not readily admit Canberra’s authority on such issues.

The McGowan government, for example, is supporting Woodside Petroleum’s planned development of the $16.5 billion Scarborough gas field off the Western Australian coast and the processing of the gas in the Pluto project. The Greens may be clamoring for it to be halted, but the real pressure is coming from some anti-enlargement shareholders.

This won’t stop Scarborough from going ahead, but it will require Woodside to show it is responding well to the concurrent emissions reduction task – or face the ire of the investors.

So while shareholders overwhelmingly approved Woodside’s $63 billion merger with BHP’s petroleum division this month, about half also voted against the company’s climate change report.

Disapproving investors argued that the report was insufficiently detailed and too reliant on carbon offsets to offset. The vote was not binding, but it was a big black mark on Woodside’s reputation.

The direction of decarbonization is clear – and companies know it. Federal Labor will add the political bells and whistles.

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