2023-24 Federal Budget could shape Australia’s future in the global energy transition

14 March 2023

The Business Council of Australia, Australian Council of Trade Unions, World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia and the Australian Conservation Foundation are re-joining forces to represent Australian businesses, workers, and our environment in a joint submission to the 2023-24 Federal Budget.

Prepared by Accenture, Sunshot in 2023: Accelerating towards Australia’s renewable exports opportunity, outlines three key areas of focus to secure a leading role for Australia in the net zero economy, and to ensure all Australians benefit from the global energy transition:

  1. World-leading renewable exports industries
  2. Sufficient domestic renewable buildout
  3. A coordinated, long-term just transition for workers and communities  

Australia has made positive steps in each of these pillars, but with major shifts in global policy and significant investments being made by key trading partners, more must be done to maximise Australia’s economic opportunities.

In August 2022, President Biden signed a massive A$532 billion clean energy stimulus package to make America a heavy lifter on clean energy transition. In February 2023, The European Commission followed with its A$410B ‘Green Deal Industrial Plan,’ and a Joint EU-US Taskforce on the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) was established. South Korea allocated A$90 billion to its ‘Green New Deal,’ and Japan intends to issue A$220B billion in green transition bonds. Even Saudi Arabia plans to invest A$400 billion to become a world leader in renewable hydrogen exports. 

The report outlines three specific Budget priorities to accelerate Australia’s transition and grow our renewable export capabilities to ensure we don’t fall further behind:

  1. Commit A$10 million in the 2023-24 Budget for the Net Zero Economy Taskforce to develop a National Renewable Exports Strategy
  2. Develop a National Renewable Infrastructure Plan to urgently accelerate the development of new renewable energy in Australia
  3. Establish and fund an independent national-level Energy Transition Authority

Sunshot 2023 is the second report from the alliance of partners, after its 2021 report Sunshot: Australia’s opportunity to create 395,000 clean export jobs, which set a vision for a low-emissions future with six renewable export opportunities. The updated report has said these opportunities could now support over 400,000 jobs and contribute over A$100 billion to the Australian economy by 2040.

Significant developments in global climate policy and energy markets have transformed the terrain for Australian policymakers, major economies have accelerated their shift to renewable energy, and extreme climate-induced weather events have displaced communities and impacted our economy. 

Now, huge pools of capital are coalescing around clean technologies, and global competition for investment is intensifying.

Despite being home to some of the best sun, wind and critical mineral resources in the world and having a geographical advantage positioned close to the major economies of Asia, if we don’t match the ambition and pace of our trade partners, we risk losing our window of opportunity and access to the capital required to realise our ambition as a global leader. 

Quotes attributable to WWF-Australia chief executive Dermot O’Gorman:

“Progress has been made at a state and federal level to accelerate our energy transition and see Australia take steps to harness our opportunity to be a renewable energy export superpower. 

However, we are only scratching the surface and so much more is possible. 

Focusing on our biggest opportunities – including the green metals sector, which could contribute $20 billion per year to the Australian economy and over 100,000 jobs – will mean we can use our existing capabilities, technologies and natural resources to not only supply our domestic needs, but export it to our neighbours. 

An accelerated transition to renewable energy will see us harness this massive opportunity to benefit our environment, communities, and economy.” 

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Michele O’Neil:

“A just energy transition and the development of world-leading renewable export industries present huge opportunities to create new, secure, well paid jobs for workers across Australia. 

We have the chance to create over 400,000 new jobs and upskill over 150,000 additional workers to accelerate infrastructure buildout, power the energy transition, and help the world decarbonise. 

We need decisive action in the 2023-24 Budget from the Federal Government to ensure we seize the opportunity to create these high-quality jobs and industries, build a sturdy bridge to the net zero future, and leave no worker or community behind.”

Quotes attributable to Australian Conservation Foundation chief executive Kelly O’Shanassy:

“Australians are suffering devastating climate-induced floods, fires and droughts, which emphasises the urgency to decarbonise Australia and help other countries decarbonise fast. At the same time, many of our global trade partners have introduced significant new green deals which are threatening Australia’s opportunity to lead.   

Our climate, our industries and workers can all benefit from a quick and decisive transition to renewables, but our window is closing fast.

To ensure we protect our communities and environment, and capture the opportunity to be a global superpower, we must act fast, with commitments backed by investment in this 2023-24 Federal Budget.”

Quotes attributable to BCA chief executive Jennifer Westacott:

“Australia is in a global race to attract the capital we’ll need to decarbonise, harness new technology and create the industries of the future. Other nations like the United States are acting now, we can’t risk squandering our natural advantages and losing out on the jobs and opportunities this change can deliver.

The critical minerals sector alone represents one of our biggest export opportunities which could generate $20 billion in gross value added. Australia currently holds just 1 per cent of the global market share in critical minerals refining, so we have huge opportunities to expand. 

Australian businesses are already investing in clean technology and renewable energy, by harnessing our world leading capabilities, resources, and skills we can do even more to become a world leader.”

Download the full report here. 


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