Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison is determined to push the country towards a net zero economy by 2050 without sacrificing “traditional industries in regional Australia”.
Describing this as “the great energy transition of our time”, Morrison has chosen to go down the path of commercialising low emissions technology and reducing its costs.
The Prime Minister, speaking at the Business Council of Australia annual dinner, urged the industrial, energy, agricultural and manufacturing industries to change their energy mix over the next 30 years.
This announcement was preceded by a $1.08 billion emissions reduction agreement that was signed between the federal and South Australian governments.
“We are not going to meet our climate change targets through punishing taxes,” Morrison said.
“I am not going to tax our industries off the planet. We are going to meet our ambitions with the smartest minds, the best technology and the animal spirits of our business community.”
Morrison also praised Fortescue Metals Group for its energy transition work while supporting resources jobs.
“Last week I was in Western Australia and saw first-hand the ground breaking work that (Fortescue chairman) Andrew Forrest and Fortescue are doing as part of our energy transition as a way of sustaining jobs in the resources sector,” Morrison said.
“The work that’s being done on green hydrogen is already attracting considerable interest from many countries.”
Fortescue has unveiled plans to develop Australia’s first green steel pilot plant and a green hydrogen plant in Brazil to reduce the company’s reliance on diesel.
It is also decarbonising its mobile fleet and fixed plant through the use of hydrogen and battery electric energy.
“Fortescue will establish that the major steel, truck, train, ship and mobile plant industries can be operated with renewable, environmentally friendly energy,” Fortescue chief executive Elizabeth Gaines said last month.
“Each will be tested by Fortescue using commercial-scale equipment to prove that the demand for direct green electricity, green hydrogen and green ammonia could one day be as large as the fossil fuel industry.”
Morrison also acknowledged BHP’s work in unlocking the potential of carbon capture and storage and introducing emission-free surface mining vehicles in its fleet.
The mining giant has signed several emissions reduction agreements with other countries including China and Japan to advance the possibility of cutting greenhouse gas from ironmaking and steelmaking.
“(I) have no doubt Rio Tinto when we meet soon will be telling me similar stories,” Morrison said.
“(Net zero) will be won in places like the Pilbara, the Hunter, Gladstone, Portland, Whyalla, Bell Bay, the Riverina.”