The Australian Government announced today plans to legislate the establishment of a Net Zero Authority, responsible for guiding the country’s economic transformation to net zero emissions, including reskilling workers for the energy transition, and coordinating with industry and investors on transformation opportunities.
The creation of the new authority follows the establishment into law by the Albanese government last year of Australia’s climate goals, including its targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by 2030, compared to 2005 levels, and to achieve net zero by 2050, and comes as major economies worldwide are gearing up to capitalize on the opportunities to participate in the global transition to cleaner energy systems and industries, with massive energy transition investment plans recently unveiled by the U.S., the EU and Canada.
One of the key focus areas of the new Net Zero Authority will be to support workers, particularly in emissions-intensive sectors, to access new skills and employment. Australia’s Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, said:
“The role of our National Net Zero Authority will be to find the barriers to job creation in our regions, and knock those barriers over.
“It will be to help workers determine the skills they need to get the new jobs being created and to help them get those skills.”
The Authority will also be responsible for helping “investors and companies to engage with net zero transformation opportunities,” and for supporting regions and communities in attracting new clean energy industries in coordination with programs and policies across the government.
Business and investment groups welcomed the government’s plans to launch the new Authority. Calling the announcement a “crucial step towards a managed transition,” Business Council of Australia’s chief executive Jennifer Westacott said:
“We support the government’s three pillared approach to supporting workers, regions and working with the businesses who will need to invest as old operations scale down and new ones ramp up.
“The investment task of decarbonisation is huge, to make sure businesses can do the heavy lifting we need to get the right skills, infrastructure and policies in place.”
The Investor Group on Climate Change’s (IGCC) Director of Policy & Advocacy, Erwin Jackson added:
“Australia’s transition away from fossil fuels and towards a clean, renewable energy future is happening now.
“For the transition to net zero emissions to succeed, we must share the benefits of our transition to a clean energy economy. We cannot afford to leave workers and communities behind.”
While the government said that it will work to legislate the new Authority, in order to kickstart the Authority’s initiatives, it will recommend the establishment of an interim agency in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, which will also develop advice and consult with stakeholders on the final design of the Net Zero Authority.
In a statement announcing the plans for the new authority, the Prime Minister’s Office said:
“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.
“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.”