Australia's largest superannuation fund has partnered with the country's major greenhouse gas emitters in a new initiative which will see them work towards a decarbonised future.
AustralianSuper, joined by NAB and Schneider Electric, has partnered with BHP, Woodside, BlueScope Steel, BP Australia, Orica, APA Group, Australian Gas Infrastructure Group and Wesfarmers Chemicals, Energy and Fertilisers as signatories of the Australian Industry Energy Transitions Initiative.
Independent charitable organisations ClimateWorks Australia and Climate-KIC Australia, in collaboration with the Energy Transitions Commission, are conveners of the initiative.
The initiative will focus on opportunities across the five supply chains which together contribute to more than a quarter of Australia's annual greenhouse gas emissions. These supply chains include steel, aluminium, liquified natural gas, and other metals (lithium, copper and nickel) and chemicals (explosives and fertiliser), which together generate around $160 billion in exports.
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Its chair, former CSIRO chair and Australian of the Year Simon McKeon said collaboration and experimentation would be at the heart of the new multi-industry initiative.
"We know that we can find solutions more quickly, and start implementing them, if we're encouraging collaborative learning and knowledge sharing, especially when it comes to new technology," McKeon said.
"This initiative provides a platform to generate knowledge and test action through on-the-ground projects that support industry to realise the opportunities of a decarbonising global economy."
AustralianSuper director of ESG & stewardship Andrew Gray said the initiative would help the industry super fund to have greater oversight into some of its investment's pathway to net zero emissions.
"An effective low carbon economic transition is necessary to manage the investment risks from climate change and is therefore important for AustralianSuper to deliver the best investment outcomes for our members," he said.
"We undertake comprehensive engagement with the companies in which we invest to encourage and support the necessary business transition to achieve this.
"We are therefore excited to join the Australian Industry Energy Transitions Initiative to work alongside some of Australian industry's biggest companies, including those in which we are directly invested, to identify the pathways they have to net zero emissions."
Joining the initiative would keep AustralianSuper accountable to push for real change among the companies which it invests in, he said.
"Joining the initiative is a tangible action to progress our company engagement that seeks business transition to net zero emissions, and develop our knowledge to inform better investment decisions, so that we can deliver the best retirement outcomes for AustralianSuper members as the low carbon economic transition occurs," Gray said.
Supply chains include finance, investment and customer decisions, as well as the extraction of raw materials, processing and distribution.
The Australian Industry ETI will see its signatories research and develop new pathways to shift the broader industry towards net zero emissions in supply chains.
"Emissions aren't contained within national borders and aren't confined to what happens within a company's four walls. That's why a supply chain approach is vital," said ClimateWorks chief executive Anna Skarbek.
"Globally, many countries and businesses are already moving to decarbonise supply chains in heavy industry sectors. There are huge opportunities for Australian businesses if they take a proactive approach to getting into this race."
A better understanding of new innovative technologies and the opportunities within the Australian industry will be a key focus of the alliance, Skarbek said.
"The good news is that the Energy Transitions Commission and others have shown that technologies can eliminate the emissions from our heavy industry supply chains," she said.
"We're pleased to be working with Australian industry participants to develop pathways and actions to support net zero emissions across critical supply chains of the economy."
BP Australia SVP fuels & low carbon solutions Asia Pacific president Frederic Baudry said the mining and petroleum company was excited to partner with the initiative to progress towards a net zero Australia by 2050.
"BP has set an ambition to become a net zero company by 2050 or sooner, and to help the world get to net zero," he said.
"In Australia we are reducing carbon in our operations and growing our low carbon businesses, products and services. We are also actively engaging countries, cities and corporations around the world to help them decarbonise.
"Reliable and affordable energy is no longer enough. It must also be cleaner," he added.