BUSINESS NEWS: ACT Government to ban new fossil fuel-powered vehicles 

The ACT Government is set to become the Australian jurisdiction to phase out internal combustion engines with a ban on new fossil fuel-powered vehicles from 2035. The ban will apply to new light vehicles, passenger cars, motorcycles, and small commercial trucks – and it will be backed up by an ZEV (zero-emissions vehicle) sales target of between 80 to 90 per cent by 2030. 

Greenpeace applauded the ACT as a climate leader that the rest of the country would do well the follow, with Lindsay Soutar saying: “The ACT was the first Australian state to move to 100 per cent renewable electricity, a move which has paid massive dividends for ACT residents who have been sheltered from the energy price shocks that have hit the rest of the east coast of Australia in recent months. 

“Phasing out new fossil fuel-powered vehicles in the ACT from 2035 will bring similar benefits for residents with cheaper to run cars, cleaner, quieter streets, and less reliance on foreign oil.”

Victorian Opposition pitches new energy scheme ahead of election

The Victorian Liberal Party has put forward a $4.8 billion rebate scheme offering subsidised solar panels and batteries to one million households, ahead of the November state election. 

The plan improves on the Andrews government’s existing $1.3 billion Solar Homes program, which allows households to claim rebates for PV panels and solar hot water systems.

Farmers for Climate Action has welcomed the plan, saying “this policy can boost household energy independence and security while also taking pressure off the grid during peak times.” The group also backs the Victorian opposition’s commitment to at least a legislated 50 per cent emissions reduction by 2030, with chief executive officer Dr Fiona Davis saying the policy means Victoria now has vital bipartisan support. 

In other Vic news, the Andrews government has come under fire for taxing electric vehicles, with the federal government recently stepping in to strike down the controversial tax. 

WSP to acquire Greencap Holdings 

Engineering professional services firm WSP has entered into an agreement to acquire Greencap Holdings – a subsidiary of Wesfarmers Industrial and Safety – for an unknown sum. Greencap is a business of around 250 people, which has been in the environmental services space for over 35 years.

“This transaction supports our regional and global ambitions by reinforcing our advisory services offering and strengthening our presence in Australia’s environmental sector,” said Alexandre L’Heureux, president and chief executive of WSP Global.

The company has big plans – and wants to double in size by adding at least 10,000 employees per year over the next three years. The acquisition is expected to close at the beginning of August 2022.

STG inks major deal with North America’s largest private manufacturer of refuse equipment

Leading truck body specialist STG Global has signed a five-year deal with the largest private manufacturer of refuse equipment in North America, New Way Trucks, to bring dual organic and solid waste processing trucks to the Australian market. 

The company claims these trucks are the world’s first waste collection truck that can manage both organic refuse collection and municipal solid waste, eliminating the need for local councils to maintain separate truck fleets.

A 2021 report by MarketsandMarkets predicts that the international waste management market will grow to $753 billion by 2026, with the growth the biggest in the Asia-Pacific region. 

New Way Trucks

Market downturn spreads to 40 per cent of Australia’s house and unit markets

Australia’s housing market downturn is facing additional pressure according to business intelligence analysts CoreLogic, which found that 41.9 per cent of house and unit markets analysed in the June quarter declined in value (compared to 23.6 per cent in the previous quarter). Growth conditions across Sydney weakened significantly, with house values falling by 3.0 per cent. 

Economist Kaytlin Ezzy said this data is not surprising. “Signs of a slowdown and falls in value were already evident before the rate rises, but are now becoming more widespread across Sydney and Melbourne, and beginning to impact the more expensive areas of Brisbane, Canberra and Hobart.  

Nearmap partners with The Nature Conservancy Australia to monitor conservation from the sky 

Australian location intelligence and aerial imagery company Nearmap has partnered with not-for-profit organisation The Nature Conservancy Australia to monitor and manage remote conservation projects using aerial imaging tech and artificial intelligence overlays. 

The project will monitor wetlands at Gayini NSW, and Fish River Station NT, using cutting-edge tech alongside traditional first nations techniques of early dry season burning for conservation purposes. 

Dr Rob Newman, managing director and chief executive at Nearmap said: “One of the remarkable aspects of our partnership with The Nature Conservancy Australia is the powerful synthesis of innovative technology and traditional land management techniques by Traditional Custodians to support local conservation projects. Nearmap will provide an important eye in the sky that is particularly helpful to monitor remote and regional areas that may be difficult to access.”

Nearmap Imagery

$498,000 in funding to UQ from ARENA for renewable grid connection 

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced $498,000 in funding for the University of Queensland (UQ) to develop and test a new platform that will aid in the process of connecting large scale renewable projects to the grid. 

UQ partner EPEC Group, a leading technical advisor on grid connection, found that many large-scale solar and battery projects have experienced delays associated with negotiations of performance standards, which it says substantially affect investor confidence and increase costs of new renewable generation projects. The new platform will allow commissioning issues to be resolved prior to installation on site.

ARENA acting chief executive Chris Faris said the testing platform “has the potential to significantly speed up the process for bringing new solar, wind and battery projects online”.

Pacific leaders call on Australia and New Zealand to act on climate emergency

A joint statement from the Pacific Islands Forum leaders declaring a “climate emergency” is calling for rapid and deep reductions in emissions to limit global warming, which commentators say needs to be responded to with urgency and ambition. Endorsed by Pacific Island Forum leaders, including Australia and New Zealand, it was published today following the conclusion of the summit in Suva, Fiji. 

WWF New Zealand chief executive Livia Esterhazy called on businesses to act: “The Pacific is already dealing with the effects of climate change… Declaring an emergency is only as good as the action that follows. New Zealand needs greater investment in renewables, sustainable farming, our blue economy, and nature-based solutions to help businesses drive down emissions towards zero this decade,” said Ms Esterhazy.

Client demand for meaningful ESG expected to grow 

A new survey of financial professionals released by corporate and investment bank Natixis has found that meaningful ESG is in demand for clients and finance professionals. 

The report found that client demand was the biggest driver for including sustainable, responsible and impact investing (ESG) in client portfolios (61.3 per cent in Australia). A majority of Australian respondents (62 per cent) agreed that sustainable, responsible and impact investing (ESG) provides an added layer of risk management to portfolios. 

First responders, fire, and emergency services meet at AFAC22 for industry meeting

For the first time in two years the emergency services industry will convene at the National Council for fire and emergency services in Australia and New Zealand 2022 Conference and Exhibition in August in Adelaide. The conference covers research, resilience, preparedness, risk reduction, culture and inclusion, mental health and climate. The Australian Disaster Resilience Conference and the Institution of Fire Engineers (Australia) National Conference are incorporated in the agenda.

Fire agency commissioners, chief officers and senior leaders will launch the Seasonal Bushfire Outlook for Spring 2022 outlining the anticipated conditions for Australia’s 2022–23 fire season. A UN-commissioned report co-authored and co-edited by professor Elaine Baker from the University of Sydney’s School of Geosciences this year found that “extreme” uncontrollable wildfires are expected to grow by 14 per cent to 2030, 30 per cent by the end of 2050 and 50 per cent by the end of the century. 

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