Time to capitalise on Australia’s green metals opportunity

Steel being tipped into a furnace in a giant bucket (hydrogen steelworksl)
Steel manufacturing (Image: Shutterstock)

Making green metals here in Australia is the country’s biggest economic opportunity in the global shift towards net zero emissions, but our industry will need the right policy settings to seize this chance, a new Climate Council report says. 

The Australia’s Clean Industry Future: Making Things Here in a Net Zero World report urges the federal government to deliver strong policy and incentives to drive the transformation of Australian industry.

“A new global Industrial Revolution is underway as the world aims to get to net zero emissions and limit dangerous global warming, and this is shifting investment away from polluting industries towards clean ones,” Climate Councillor and independent economist Nicki Hutley said. 

Related article: Climate Council calls on govts to help Aussies quit gas

“To stay competitive in this net zero world, Australia’s heavy industries—including steelmaking, aluminium and metal production, cement, and chemical production—will need to undergo a big transformation, but the good news is that we have the resources and know-how to do this.”

The report says that helping Australian industry cut emissions and get off fossil fuels can grow profits, create new clean industries, protect workers, and create thousands of new jobs. 

“Australia has some of the best solar energy resources on earth, and right beneath our feet we have some of the world’s largest reserves of critical minerals like iron ore and bauxite. We can harness these world-class resources to become a world-leading industrial powerhouse and a nation leading on climate solutions,” Chief Climate Councillor Professor Tim Flannery said. 

“We can also use cheap renewable energy to power manufacturing as well as expand Australia’s capacity to refine and process raw materials onshore. This would spur job creation, develop clean new value-added industries, and significantly reduce emissions.” 

Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie added: “The federal government’s reform of the Safeguard Mechanism is a critical opportunity to deliver the right policy settings to help future-proof industries, protect Australian manufacturing, and reduce harmful carbon pollution. 

“If we get the Safeguard Mechanism right, this will drive green manufacturing and more great jobs to power the next era of Australian prosperity.”

Related article: CEC calls for increased Renewable Energy Target

The Climate Council’s recommendations for  ensuring the Safeguard Mechanism supports strong Australian industries include: 

  • Prioritising crucial domestic industries which have a long-term future in a net zero world in the scheme settings, rather than making them carry the weight for new, highly-polluting coal and gas projects. 
  • Directing government support to sectors like steel, aluminium, cement and chemicals so they can undertake technology trials, buy new equipment and update their facilities, rather than subsidising fossil fuels, an industry that has no long-term future.
  • Requiring large emitters—particularly fossil fuels—to deliver genuine emissions reductions, and not permitting them to buy unlimited carbon offsets while continuing to pollute as usual.  
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