Forests on fire: A brief discussion of this year’s forest fires

Appropriate stewardship of our forests is vital for people’s livelihoods, maintaining biodiversity and for mitigating climate change. Yet in 2019 we continued to lose our forests to unnaturally large and intense fires.

This year’s fires in the Amazon made global headlines. Between January and August 2019, Brazil experienced around 40% more fires than compared to the previous year. Almost 42,000 fire hotspots were recorded in August 2019 by the Brazilian National Institute of Space Research (INPE) that monitors forest loss. In August, the Brazilian government fired the chief of INPE and further forest loss reports have been postponed. Natural forest fires are very rare in the Amazon. A combination of a changing climate, policies and deforestation pressures have kindled these large human-induced fires.

The Amazon, however, is not the only forest ecosystem on fire. This year, deforestation fires have been raging across the Indonesian archipelago. Land managers use burning to clear land for agricultural purposes. If those fires are not managed carefully and conditions are too dry, they can spread uncontrollably. Forest fires are an annual environmental and transboundary air pollution problem in Indonesia. Annual dry seasons are often intensified by El Niño. The Indonesian government has been active in fighting this year’s deforestation fires, and has generally made progress in reducing deforestation in the past years, however, problem areas remain.

We also saw a significant number of fires burning in Africa, the Arctic, Europe and most recently in Australia. The spring bushfires in Queensland, NSW and Victoria have destroyed large amounts of forest and livelihoods. A combination of prolonged drought and extremely hot, dry and windy conditions have contributed to above normal fire potential, resulting in the declaration of emergency warning levels in many parts of the country. As we have seen, under these conditions, fires can be uncontrollable, unpredictable and fast moving. Fire is an important part of Australia’s ecosystems. However, a recent study analysing variability of Australian fire weather found there is a long-term upward trend in fire weather which is likely due to anthropogenic climate change. Understanding these variabilities and interactions between climate drivers and fire weather will improve forecasts of fire weather and enhance effective fire planning and active fire management. The Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook for instance takes key climate drivers into consideration when assessing fire potential.

These large-scale forest fires, whether in Brazil, Indonesia or Australia, are not only devastating regarding livelihoods and biodiversity, but also from a climate mitigation perspective as forests are important carbon sinks. IPCC’s Special Report on Climate Change, Desertification, Land Degradation, Sustainable Land Management, Food Security, and Greenhouse Gas Fluxes in Terrestrial Ecosystems highlights that to limit warming to 1.5°C or well below 2°C, land-based mitigation and land-use change are fundamental. The report stresses large benefits for climate mitigation when maintaining carbon stocks in forest ecosystems, for instance through forest protection, sustainable forest management, reduced deforestation and forest degradation. While the role of forest for climate mitigation has been acknowledged internationally, global tree cover loss and deforestation rates have increased. This emphasises the importance of improving the stewardship of our forests to combat climate change.

This article was written by Amélie Uhrig, Consultant in Environment and Climate Change at Point Advisory.

Modern Slavery, the ‘Trojan Horse’ for Business and Human Rights

In April, our very own Alan Dayeh spoke at the 2019 National Sustainability Conference on the importance of Australia’s Modern Slavery Act to Procurement teams, Sustainability teams, and company Directors. He likened the topic of modern slavery as the ‘Trojan Horse’ for Business and Human Rights. However, unlike the destructive outcome of the Trojan War, he spoke about how the topic of modern slavery is the entry point or the ‘thin part of a wedge’ to a broader focus on human rights across the business.

While emerging disclosure-based modern slavery and supplier transparency legislation abroad and locally can be considered by some to be simple from a strict compliance perspective, the truth is that it notes the beginning of a larger challenge of human rights for businesses. With this challenge there are hidden dangers that procurement and sustainability teams, and indeed Directors need to be aware of!

The Australian Modern Slavery Act (2018) makes clear its alignment with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). This means that organisations who take a simplistic approach to meeting modern slavery legislation without thinking about their broader human rights impacts do so at their peril.

Here’s a snapshot of the key points:

Procurement managers need to understand that it won’t be enough to simply ask suppliers a few questions on slavery in order to tick a box as other human rights issues impact the supply chain. They need to:

  1. Go beyond tier 1 suppliers
  2. Be aware of other human rights risks that go beyond modern slavery
  3. Capture data and regularly engage with suppliers and the sustainability team

Sustainability managers need to understand that modern slavery is part of a global trend towards increased disclosure and assessment of human rights impacts across the whole value chain of their business and will need to integrate these perspectives in their existing frameworks and reporting. They need to:

  1. Support/guide the business in adopting the UNGPs and creating a human rights policy commitment
  2. Map material topics through to relevant human rights
  3. Determine salient issues and incorporate into human rights due diligence

Directors need to understand that the processes by which their organisations consider the issue of Business and Human Rights will be critical to meeting modern slavery legislation as well as meeting the UNGPs. They need to understand the types of questions they could be asking of management regarding the associated risks.

Questions like:

  1. Across our value chain, including our core operations, what are our most significant impacts on people (not just the business)? – Have we performed a Human Rights Impact Assessment? And do we know our most salient issues?
  2. What are the brand and operational risks as a result of issues in the supply chain?
  3. What are the impacts to the business if accused or responsible for breaches in human rights?


This article was written by Alan Dayeh, Managing Principal at Point Advisory.

Solving Victoria’s waste problem – is all recycling created equal?

Recent international restrictions on the import of waste materials have left Victoria’s (already stretched) resource recovery industry reeling. Stockpiles across the state, of otherwise recyclable material, continue to grow rapidly. And, so too does the fire risk. Following the 2017 fire at the Coolaroo recycling plant, EPA Victoria upped its scrutiny and began shutting down such plants until high-risk stockpiles could be addressed (which, in at least one case, meant sending hundreds of thousands of tonnes material to landfill). In light of this, Victoria’s intended transition to a circular economy looks… challenging.

Fortunately, there are a number of promising developments that could help increase our economy’s ‘circularity’. For example, Alex Fraser has just opened a new glass recycling facility, supported by funding from Sustainability Victoria, to create clean, ground, recycled glass sand for use in road and other construction projects. Sustainability Victoria has also provided assistance to Downer EDI and Close the Loop to trial the inclusion of soft recycled plastic in asphalt binder. Given Victoria’s healthy pipeline of infrastructure projects, these (and other similar) technologies present an unprecedented opportunity to boost the demand for recycled materials and to deplete our stockpiles without sending valuable resources to landfill.

However, as promising (and preferable to the current state of affairs) as these recycling technologies are, they cannot alone lead to a truly circular economic model. These technologies ‘down-cycle’ materials from a high value form (e.g. bottles) to a lower value form (e.g. sand). In effect, this aligns the second law of thermodynamics, which holds that all natural systems tend towards higher states of disarray (entropy). A resource recovery model based solely on such technologies risks establishing a ‘downward spiral’, where materials are recycled only until they reach a zero-value form. Waste to energy projects present the same concern.

A circular economy must also include ‘up-cycling’ processes, adding value to reclaimed materials and creating more complex manufactured products. Recent trials by Sustainability Victoria, Integrated Recycling and Monash University of recycled plastic railway sleepers are a good example. Establishing robust up-cycling processes is inherently challenging. Doing so basically pushes against the second law of thermodynamics. However, it is not impossible. The creation order, structure and value from disarray is one of the defining features of the global economy.

In short, we should certainly embrace technologies that can help us address our immediate resource recovery problems. However, we should not let these quick wins lull us into complacency. The problems faced by our resource recovery industry have been decades in the making. Closing the loop on a circular economy could take just as long. We have only just started the journey. We should keep moving.


This article was written by Ben Sichlau, Principal at Point Advisory.

Climate risk series: Deriving strategic value #1

At the twenty first Conference of Parties (‘COP21’) in Paris in 2015 an agreement was reached on the imperative to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. The Paris Climate Agreement has since led to increasing calls for governments and organisations to take ambitious action on climate change mitigation and adaptation. In this context, mechanisms such as the Science Based Target Initiative and the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (‘TCFD’) have been developed to support organisations in understanding and embedding climate change considerations in the way they operate.

Since the release of the TCFD recommendations in June 2017, 785 organisations have committed to support the framework and 340 investors with nearly $34 trillion in assets under management are asking organisations to report under the TCFD[1]. This has translated in a strong push for action by companies to understand the exposure of their business to physical and transitional climatic impacts.

To monitor the implementation of the TCFD recommendations, the Task Force recently released its 2019 Status Report. In developing this report, the Task Force reviewed financial filings, annual reports, integrated reports and sustainability reports for over 1,100 organisations across 142 countries.

On the back of this report, and informed by other international media and our own observations through the work we do with our clients, we will publish a series of articles to discuss the progress to date, the key challenges faced by organisations and ways to overcome them. This first article discusses the importance of governance and ensuring the relevant people within your organisation understand their role in integrating climate change considerations in defining your business’ strategic direction.

Article 1: Governance

Key finding of the TCFD 2019 Status Report: “Mainstreaming climate-related issues requires the involvement of multiple functions”.

Breaking organisational silos is fundamental to truly embed climate change considerations into the business’ decision-making processes in an effective and efficient manner. Climate change can affect multiple functions within an organisation and therefore they all need to come to the table when discussing how climate-related drivers can impact (negatively or positively) the resilience of the business.

In our experience, an impactful way to bring everyone along on the journey is through tailored, carefully designed workshops. We have designed and facilitated several of these workshops and, gratifyingly, have been able to see Executive Leadership Teams, Board members and cross-functional senior management reach a common level of understanding of how different climate futures can impact their business. We found that the presence of one or more strong advocates from the most senior level of the organisation at these workshops can greatly help set the tone and drive participants to get on board and take ownership.

In some instances, we have observed a disconnection between the Board and the Executive Teams when it comes to driving the implementation of the TCFD recommendations. The Board wants to see the business respond to the challenge, but the Executive Teams may not always be able to prioritise the issue and find the best way to tackle it. This can lead the organisation to undertake climate risk work (frequently led by the Sustainability Manager) without having the full understanding and support of the Executive Team, producing outcomes that become hard to implement and embed within the organisation or that struggle to get the financial or operational support they require. While this will still allow the organisation to report on work done under the TCFD, it does not enable the business to access the strategic value that comes from truly cross-organisational scenario analysis work. It may also lead to incremental rather than transformational action, which is a missed opportunity for the organisation to think strategically about climate change and enhance its competitive edge.

Effective internal stakeholder engagement, not only at the beginning but all along the journey, is the best way to avoid this false sense of progress. This, coupled with a review of the organisation’s governance structure, processes and reporting lines, will ensure climate change is fully embedded in the governance of the organisation and decision-useful processes and disclosures can be developed.

When assisting our clients with climate risk-related governance and stakeholder engagement work, we involve our most senior staff, bringing the required strategic thinking, industry knowledge and relevant expertise to facilitate the discussion with your Board and Executive Team to achieve the desired outcomes. We are experienced workshop designers and facilitators, and bring a deep understanding of governance structures and processes gained through both in house and consulting experience. Some examples of our work to date include the design and facilitation of a climate risk workshop for Treasury Wine Estates’ Executive Leadership Team, the delivery of a climate-related physical risk assessment for a large multi-site industrial client, a TCFD disclosure gap analysis and climate risk assessment for Incitec Pivot Limited, and the development of Westernport Water’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan, amongst others.

If you would like to know more about our team and how we can help, please refer to our Climate risk & TCFD services or contact Marisa Sánchez Urrea.

This article was written by Marisa Sánchez Urrea, Senior Manager Climate Change & Energy.

[1] TCFD 2019 Status Report:

Businesses lead the way with voluntary carbon offsets

The international carbon market, which includes both compliance and voluntary offsets is currently experiencing significant change as it evolves from the old ‘Kyoto Protocol’ to the new ‘Paris Agreement’.

Negotiations around Article 6[1] are ongoing and whilst some progress was made last December in Katowice at COP24, the draft text was scuttled at the last minute and subsequently removed from the (Paris) rule book. As such, governments have agreed to revisit Article 6 again this year at the UN’s mid-year intersessional in June with a view towards trying to reach final agreement at COP25 in December.

Once finalised the Paris Agreement (including Article 6) will essentially create one big new international voluntary carbon market as opposed to the old Kyoto Protocol which was a compliance based system. This is due to the nature of the pledges that have been made, known as INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) which are non-binding at a government level.

Whilst the Paris Agreement is not the only game in town, on balance it is likely to increase international carbon prices post 2020 once the new rules around Article 6 (market-based mechanisms) are finalised, particularly the ones around the eligibility of specific unit types. Internationally several compliance markets are currently trading above AU$10/t (Source: Carbon Pulse) with some markets such as EUAs in Europe already north of AU$20/t. The exception to this rule is China’s new (pilot) emissions trading scheme that is currently sitting around AU$6-8/t.

Under the Paris Agreement, governments have agreed to (voluntarily) manage their own commitments going forward and to report back to the UN on their progress every five years whilst also scaling up their ambition as they go. Thus, attempting to prevent catastrophic global warming under a system where countries have agreed to monitor their emissions and collectively rachet them down going forward – assuming all goes to plan.

Whilst this voluntary top down approach is not perfect, it gives individual governments the opportunity to decide what levers to pull locally to meet their targets, the mechanics of which, the UN has been wrestling with for years.

In addition to Article 6 there are also several other interesting things happening globally which may or may not intersect with it (and the Paris Agreement) depending on the final text that is chosen. This includes how the old Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Joint Implementation (JI) mechanisms may or may not play a part under Article 6, the aviation industry’s intent to mitigate its emissions under CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) and the existing voluntary carbon market driven by motivations other than compliance.

Of particular interest in Australia is the existing voluntary carbon market which has been surprisingly buoyant of late. No longer are Australian businesses and numerous local governments prepared to sit around and wait for international negotiations to be finalised. Instead they have decided to step up and take a leadership role in the battle against climate change by committing to becoming carbon neutral.

This bottom up approach by leading organisations compliments the UN’s top down international method well, hopefully at some point allowing us to break through the political barriers that we are currently seeing.

In the short term, savvy carbon buyers are also taking advantage of historic low (voluntary) carbon prices internationally and banking offsets as part of their internal procurement strategies.

Last year Ecosystem Marketplace reported the average price internationally of all voluntary offsets transacted across all project types to be AU$3.35/t or US$2.4/t (Source: 2018 Outlook and First Quarter Trends), noting that it is still possible to procure carbon offsets at even lower prices if purchasing in volume. This is due in part to the current lack of certainty around Article 6 and which type of emission reductions may or may not be eligible under it post 2020.

This in turn allowing “early-movers” a cost-effective transition towards their public carbon neutrality commitments and the opportunity to get ahead of the curve.


[1] Article 6 of the Paris Agreement forms the legal framework to allow use of market-based climate change mitigation mechanisms to meet emission reduction targets.


This article was written by Nathan Dale, Head of Origination at Bundle

Bundle (a Point Advisory brand) is a brokerage firm working across several sustainability and environmental markets. Bundle specialises in voluntary carbon offsets, low carbon finance and project advisory services, both in Australia and across South East Asia.

For further information please contact

Expanded service offerings – Human rights

Point Advisory is pleased to announce that we are expanding our service offerings in 2019 to include a new business line – human rights.

Time to get started on ‘Business and human rights’

With the enactment of Australia’s Modern Slavery Act in late 2018, companies with annual revenue over $100 million will need to make annual public reports (Modern Slavery Statements) on their actions to address modern slavery risks in their operations and supply chains. The below diagram summarises the requirements that commence in financials years commencing in 2019.

What is modern slavery?

Modern slavery relates to a range of significant human rights breaches typically on people in vulnerable situations and includes human trafficking, slavery, child labour, debt-bondage, forced labour and personal servitude. It can occur within an organisation’s operations and supply chain.

Point Advisory can support your organisation in meeting the requirements of the new Act and enhance your approach to respecting and advancing human rights. Our team has practical experience in implementing responsible sourcing practices, meeting the requirements of modern slavery legislation globally, developing human right policies, and benchmarking human rights performance.

For further information on our human rights services visit our website or contact Alan Dayeh

Climate change and human rights: Our integrated sustainability approach

The Human Rights Council has stressed that it is critical to apply a human rights-based approach to guide policies and measures designed to address climate change. To support this, our climate change and human rights specialists work together to incorporate a rights-based approach to ensure that climate change strategies, risk management, mitigation and adaptation programs do not detract from the corporate responsibility to respect human rights. This includes considering risks of creating unintended inequalities, vulnerabilities, or discriminatory practices as a result of our clients’ climate change responses. Climate risk and the recommendations of the G20’s Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (‘TCFD’) are increasingly becoming a topic for discussion for Boards and investors.

Showcase – Climate Risk

As ASIC said towards the end of 2018, “Climate change is a foreseeable risk facing many listed companies in the Australian market in a range of different industries. Directors and officers of listed companies need to understand and continually reassess existing and emerging risks (including climate risk) that may affect the company’s business.”[1]

Point Advisory has developed a suite of services that brings together our team’s capabilities in risk management, economic modelling, scenario analysis, carbon management, target setting, adaptation planning and corporate reporting to offer end-to-end support as organisations look to understand and manage their climate-related  risks and opportunities in line with the TCFD recommendations.

We are pleased to have supported several clients in their climate risk journeys recently, including the delivery of a climate-related physical risk assessment for a large multi-site industrial client, a TCFD disclosure gap analysis and initial climate risk assessment for Incitec Pivot Limited, and the development of Westernport Water’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan, amongst others.

For further information on our climate risk services visit our website or contact a member of our team – Christophe Brulliard and Marisa Sanchez Urrea

[1] Australian Securities and Investments Commission, September 2018, Report 593: Climate risk disclosure by Australia’s listed companies.

The Seven Steps of Climate-related Scenario Analysis

Planners and decision makers are often required to develop strategies in the face of an uncertain future. Climate change adds an additional (and substantial) layer of uncertainty to the mix.

Scenario analysis is an established method for developing and stress testing management responses under such conditions of deep uncertainty. Effectively a ‘what-if?’ test, each scenario presents a combination of plausible and internally consistent future events to planners and decision makers. A set of scenarios is used to span a range of possible futures that are outside the timespans of day-to-day decision-making.

In June 2017, the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (FSB TCFD) suggested that “organizations should use scenario analysis to assess potential business, strategic, and financial implications of climate-related risks and opportunities…”. The FSB followed this with a Technical Supplement on the use of Scenario Analysis.

Point Advisory have found the FSB’s technical supplement to be useful in application. However, we have also found that some organisations have difficulty in translating the FSB’s guidance into tangible steps. To assist, we have developed the following seven-step approach:

  1. Establish the organization’s context: Scenarios should be relevant to the organisation’s environment, including markets and competition, supply chains, etc. The planning horizons will be important in defining scenarios’ own milestones.
  2. Understand current governance: Scenarios will facilitate decision making; scenario development therefore need to be cognisant of how decisions are made.
  3. Assess climate-related risks and opportunities: This step could be the subject of its own article (or text book). Climate related future scenarios will modify these risks, but it is important to have a solid starting point and understand the risk areas to make sure scenarios have a higher level of resolutions within those areas.
  4. Develop the scenario set: This is the crux of the matter. Based on research and consultation, a set of scenarios can be defined. To ensure they are useful all assumptions should be clearly stated and then reviewed by key internal participants. The resulting scenarios should be plausible, internally consistent, relevant and challenging.
  5. Apply the scenarios: The scenarios are but a tool. Planners and decision makers use them to explore the implications of scenarios on decisions, strategies or objectives. This is the “stress test” and the key question to be asked is: How would existing (or proposed) strategies, decisions or actions perform under each scenario?
  6. Use the results of scenario analysis to influence strategic planning or to improve existing management responses. This is best done by embedding insights from the previous steps into processes, policies and the culture of the organization.
  7. Close the governance loop: Monitor, review, document, disclose and repeat as appropriate.

For further information please contact Christophe Brulliard and Ben Sichlau.

Scope 3 emissions and Science-Based Targets

Companies responding to the CDP Climate Change questionnaire are rewarded for setting science-based targets. However, many companies committing to the Science-Based Target initiative (SBTi) are failing to meet the SBTi criteria, and the largest reason for failure is the inability to meet the Scope 3 requirements.

For many global businesses such as BT, Optus and Pfizer, supply chain emissions contribute a significant proportion of their total carbon footprint. In an ideal world, everyone would commit to their fair share of the effort required to keep the world under a 2 degree increase in average temperatures and hence scope 3 emissions would not need to be considered. We are however far from this ideal situation. Therefore, all Science-Based Targets need to include these Scope 3 emissions sources and companies need to work with their upstream and downstream partners to reduce their Scope 3 emission inventory. However, assessing supply chain carbon emissions is typically not an easy task, and the more diversified the supply chain is, the more difficult it becomes. Therefore understanding where greenhouse gas emission ‘hotspots’ are in a company’s supply chain is often the first step in developing a pathway to setting and achieving a Scope 3 SBT.

One way of identifying and quantifying these supply chain emissions is to apply an Economic Input-Output Life Cycle Assessment (EIO-LCA) method to supply chain expenditure. This estimates the materials and energy resources required for, and the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from, activities in the economy, and can be applied to a company’s supply chain, for a first estimate relying on industry averages. The image below shows a high-level overview of Optus’ SBT setting process, which used EEIO methods to identify supply chain emissions, and was integral to their Sustainable Supply Chain Management (SSCM) strategy.

Point Advisory have the capability to assist your business in:

  • Completing a Scope 3 screening exercise in line with the SBTi requirements
  • Identifying primary and secondary data sources for calculating your Scope 3 emissions
  • Developing a Scope 3 supply chain inventory using the latest EEIO models.

Please contact Ben Sichlau or Caoilinn Murphy for further information.


Insights from our latest event: Australia’s energy crisis: could energy productivity be the knight in shining armour?

In December, Point Advisory hosted an event to discuss the role of the demand side in helping Australia deal with its ‘energy trilemma’. The event was a lighthearted take on a serious issue, and our three speakers covered some interesting technologies and policy solutions.

First up was Rob Murray-Leach, who managed to weave in several amazing fairy tale analogies to his presentation about the current policy and regulatory landscape – including Audrey Zibelman from AEMO as the Fairy Godmother. We won’t repeat who the Wicked Witch of the West was…

Then Tom Ray from CIM Enviro talked about new technologies in the building fault detection and optimization space. He also drew some interesting comparisons between the energy and water sectors, based on his time at Thames Water in the UK.

Finally, Bruce Thompson from GreenSync spoke about the vast opportunities for more proactive management of the demand side of the market through technologies like demand response, and some of the barriers to achieving these.

Thanks to all our speakers and attendees for a genuinely entertaining and informative evening!

Towards zero emissions by 2050

Towards zero emissions by 2050

At the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties (‘COP21’) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (‘UNFCCC’) held in Paris, the world agreed to a global goal to hold average temperature increase to well below 2°C and pursue efforts to keep warming below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. To achieve the “well below 2°C goal”, the concentration of greenhouse gases (‘GHG’) in the atmosphere need to be kept under control, which means that the world has to operate within a given remaining ‘budget’ of carbon emissions. Currently we have a carbon budget of 850 billion tons of CO2 to have a likely chance (estimated as a 2/3 probability) of staying below 2°C. If we want to stay well below 2°C, we need to do better than that, and do it quickly. In this context, the Paris Agreement highlights the need for Parties to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Australia ratified the Paris Agreement on 10 November 2016. Our Nationally Determined Contribution (‘NDC’), dated August 2015, sets an economy-wide target to reduce GHG emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. This target has been rated as “insufficient, and with a level of ambition that, if followed by all other countries, would lead to global warming of over 2°C and up to 3°C” by the latest Climate Action Tracker assessment.

However, Australian state and local governments are taking further climate action to contribute their fair share to the world’s path to net zero emissions by 2050. Queensland has been the latest state government to announce their climate agenda with its Queensland Climate Transition Strategy, that includes a commitment for 50% renewable energy by 2030, net zero emissions by 2050, and an interim emissions reductions target of at least 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. This positions Queensland alongside South Australia, Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, New South Wales, and Tasmania in setting targets or aspirational goals of net zero emissions by 2050.

State Key commitments
  • Net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050
  • Requires the government to set five-yearly interim targets for the period 2020 to 2050
  • Reduce Victoria’s emissions by 15-20 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020
  • Reduce emissions from government operations by 30 per cent below 2015 levels by 2020
  • Renewable energy generation targets of 25 per cent by 2020 and 40 per cent by 2025
Australian Capital Territory
  • Net zero carbon emissions by 2050
  • Interim emissions reduction targets
  • Renewable energy target of 100% by 2020
South Australia
  • Net zero emissions by 2050
  • Adelaide to be world’s first carbon neutral city
  • Achieve $10 billion in low carbon investment by 2025
  • Improve energy efficiency of government buildings by 30 per cent by 2020
  • Net zero emissions by 2050
  • 50% renewable energy by 2030
  • Interim emissions reductions target of at least 30% below 2005 levels by 2030
New South Wales
  • Aspirational objective of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050
  • Aspirational long-term target to achieve zero net emissions by 2050

At Point Advisory, we have recently completed work for the ACT government to develop their net zero emissions trajectories at the broad sectoral level (stationary energy, waste and land use). We are also working with the Queensland government on their next demand management and energy efficiency strategy.

Local Governments are also making progress in Australia. Some examples of councils´ emissions reduction commitments are as follows:

Additionally, Melbourne and Sydney are part of C40 Cities, a network of 91 cities across the world committed to addressing climate change by reducing emissions and climate risks, while increasing the health, wellbeing and economic opportunities of their citizens. Together C40 member cities combined community emissions represent 2.4 Gt of CO2-e. During COP23, 25 cities, including Melbourne, pledged to develop climate action plans before the end of 2020 to deliver on their share of emissions reductions required to reach net zero emissions by 2050. New York City and Paris have already delivered on this commitment. Melbourne is on track to develop its climate action plan and has also been recognised as a lead of the C40 Low Carbon Districts network, with Fishermans Bend and Arden Macauley as examples of low-carbon, sustainable, and energy efficient neighbourhoods. Point Advisory is currently finishing developing a net zero carbon strategy for the Fishermans Bend Taskforce, which will inform the next stage of work to refine the climate action plan for the district.

Businesses are also stepping up and leading the way to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy. COP23 witnessed commitments of unprecedented magnitude, such as Microsoft’s pledge to reduce its operational carbon emissions by 75 per cent by 2030, against a 2013 baseline – this has been estimated to avoid 10 million metric tons of carbon per year, which is equivalent to zeroing out the emissions of the City of Rome. Danone also saw its science-based target to become carbon neutral by 2050 getting approved by the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) during the conference, and so did the Singtel Group, becoming the first company in Asia (excluding Japan) to have its carbon reduction targets approved by the SBTi.

Over 630 companies around the world have made more than 1,000 climate-related commitments through the We Mean Business Coalition’s Take Action campaign. This includes commitments such as adopting science-based emissions reduction targets or joining the Low Carbon Technology Partnerships Initiative to achieve emissions reductions that lead to a net zero emissions economy by 2050.

Whilst setting targets does not directly reduce emissions, businesses’ pledges are sending a clear signal to the market that society is ready to embrace net zero and that regulatory uncertainty needs to be reduced to ensure investment stability and smooth economic growth.

Australian businesses are also playing a role. Point Advisory assisted Westpac to develop emissions reduction targets in line with SBTi criteria. Infigen Energy, Origin Energy, Teachers Mutual Bank, Australian Ethical Investment and Investa have also committed to setting science-based targets. Other Australian companies, such as AGL Energy, Energy Australia, Wesfarmers annd Telstra have shown their support to a 2050 carbon emissions reduction target for Australia that is consistent with the Paris Agreement to aim at net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

As climate action plans and emissions reductions targets get approved and communicated, the focus will shift to whether governments and businesses are in fact delivering on those commitments. To this effect, at COP23, countries agreed on the design of the Talanoa Dialogue, a framework to take stock of the collective progress towards net zero emissions of the Parties to the agreement. This will not only provide insight on the actual tons of emissions that have been removed from the atmosphere so far, but also set the scene for governments to up their NDCs under the Paris Agreement kicking off in 2020. The Australian federal government will then have another chance to truly embrace the challenge of decarbonising Australia’s economy, take on a leading role and unlock the significant economic opportunities the Paris Agreement could offer for Australia.