The Australian government has officially committed to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, and pledged $20 billion in investment into clean energy technology in a bid to get there.
Announcing the plan to hit the new emissions target ahead of the Glasgow Climate Change Conference next week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the net-zero plan is focused on economic growth as well as emissions reduction, particularly for rural and regional Australia.
“It keeps traditional advantages in the regions, while supporting the growth of new industries,” he said.
While maintaining that ‘traditional’ markets will continue to be served, Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said the plan takes advantage of economic opportunities posed by new technologies.
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The focus is on driving down the cost of renewable energy solutions, rather than increasing the prices of fossil fuel-powered solutions, in order to push the market in that direction.
One of the key principles of the plan is around maintaining a supply of affordable and reliable energy, Taylor said.
That means investments focused on “driving down the costs of a portfolio of technologies,” he said, in order to get such technologies to “cost competitiveness”.
Once costs dip below a certain point, we will see “explosive growth”, he said, as people choose clean energy solutions.
“Central to this is the $20 billion investment the government is making in that technology portfolio,” Taylor said.
He suggested this could lead to an additional $60 to $100 million in investment from state governments and private sector investment into research and commercialisation.
We don’t have a whole lot of detail on exactly how investments will be made, or whether much will trickle down to the startup and small business community.
It appears however that the funding will be linked to the Technology Investment Roadmap announced last year, which pledged $1.9 billion to tech that reduces emissions, but didn’t include funding for renewables.
Taylor suggested there will be some additions to the tech focuses of the roadmap, but specifically highlighted clean hydrogen as a priority technology for achieving net-zero.
That roadmap will drive emissions down by 40%, he said. Global technology updates will help drive emissions down by another 15%.
“Offsets” will provide an opportunity to drive emissions down by a further 10% to 20%, Taylor said.
“We’re relying on technology breakthroughs … to provide that final 15%,” he added.
The government’s focus is on helping to shape consumer and technology trends, “and on the back of that, ensuring we have a portfolio of technologies that can deliver the outcome we want to deliver,” Taylor said.