Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen unveiled plans on Friday for a Net Zero Authority.
The long-anticipated move was strongly welcomed by climate action advocates as a way to shepherd Australia through the complex economic transition needed for the country to achieve its net zero emissions by 2050 target. It will also allow the country to comply with its obligations under the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
The Net Zero Authority will be enshrined in legislation, begin operating as a government agency from July 1, and be tasked with:
- Helping workers in emissions-intensive sectors access new employment and skills
- Coordinate programs and policies across government to support affected regions and communities
- Help investors and companies find net zero transformation opportunities.
The agency will be housed within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and will have $1.9 billion in funding from the Powering the Regions Fund to support existing affected industries such as rail and aviation. This will be undertaken via the creation of a new $400 million Industrial Transformation Stream within the fund.
“The shift to net zero emissions by 2050 must happen fairly for Australians in emissions-intensive industries and the communities they live and work in,” according to a ministerial statement.
“The regions that have always powered Australia can power Australia into the future, but we need to seize those opportunities. This authority is about leaving no-one behind as this global shift continues.”.
No detail was immediately available on how the property industry would be assisted to achieve its transformation to net zero emissions.
“A national transition authority is exactly what Australia needs to make sure we have our national interest at the heart of our policy framework.
“The national transition authority will also be really important in ensuring Australia’s workforce and communities are best placed to pivot from the fossil fuel focussed industries from the past to the clean energy and critical minerals and value adding opportunities of the future,” said Tim Buckley, senior energy market analyst and director of Climate Energy Finance.
“The global supply chain diversity is a critical focus and Australia needs to both protect our own energy security, but also provide an alternative source of green energy supply for our key trade partners.”
Mr Bowen announced the new authority while on a visit to Muswellbrook in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, which will be affected by the closure of several coal-fired power stations in the coming decade.
“This is a great opportunity to shine a light on the potential of a renewable industrial precinct for the Hunter,” Sam Mella, senior project manager, Beyond Zero Emissions, said in a statement.
“We’ve got some incredible businesses working on innovation and manufacturing, making products for the net zero world and I’m really happy that the government will be focussing on what we need to do to get to net zero, because the Hunter has got that talent in spades.”