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Keynote address to the BloombergNEF New Energy Outlook 2020 Australia Forum


24 November 2020

ANGUS TAYLOR: Thank you for inviting me here today. It was just a year ago that I was on a panel and I met Michael Bloomberg over in Madrid. And of course, it has been an absolutely extraordinary year since then. None of us could have anticipated what's happened. But of course, it is great to be here and to have this event occurring, albeit virtually. And I think it's fantastic that we've been able to continue to have discussions about this all important topic of energy and emissions reduction.

Now, the Australian Government's approach to energy and emissions reduction can be summed up in a single word, and that's enterprise.

We encourage the spirit of enterprise because it opens up new economic opportunities.

It promotes innovation instead of the stifling effects of taxation and overregulation.

That's how challenges are overcome.

And the challenge of bringing down emissions while strengthening our economies not weakening them, is no different.

This is actually a remarkably consistent aspect of human history.

We've overcome economic, engineering, and environmental challenges time and time again.

And these feats have been achieved by investing in technology.

By relying on human’s innate ingenuity and enterprise to solve hard problems.

As I told the AFR summit yesterday, energy policy must focus on the primary role of energy markets in Australia - and that is to deliver energy to customers at internationally competitive prices.

Because when Australia can deliver energy at competitive prices, it delivers jobs.

Well-paying, secure jobs. Export jobs. Jobs that Australians want.

That's why the principle of technology not taxes is so central to the Government's energy and emissions agenda.

We're in the midst of a technological step change in energy that hasn't been seen since the electrification of developed countries.

Emerging technologies offer the prospect of ample, affordable, reliable energy and low-cost emissions reduction.

There is limitless opportunity for Australia in the world in such a change if we get it right.

But we shouldn't kid ourselves that these are off-the-shelf technologies ready to replace incumbent technologies at little or no cost.

The latest edition of the New Energy Outlook confirms that we'll have to work hard to make these new technologies cost competitive, so that we can deliver on that potential without imposing economic burdens on customers, on Australians, on people across the world.

This means making targeted investments in technologies that offer the greatest potential for Australia and the world.

And that's why the Australian Government has developed the Technology Investment Roadmap.

The Roadmap is a plan to drive investment and position Australia as a technology leader without compromising energy affordability and reliability.

If you haven't yet had a chance to look at it, I'd encourage you to do so.

The consultation, thought and analysis that has gone into the development of the Roadmap, led by a panel of business, science and government leaders and chaired by the Chief Scientist Alan Finkel is, I think, unique globally.

The Roadmap will guide $18 billion of Commonwealth Government investment in new and emerging technologies over the next 10 years, leveraging another $50 billion or more of investment in low emissions technologies from others by 2030.

It identifies five priority areas for investment: hydrogen, stored energy, low emission steel and aluminium, soil carbon, and carbon capture and storage.

Each of these areas has an economic stretch goal, set at the point at which the technologies reach parity with their higher emitting alternatives.

Achieving the stretch goal for hydrogen production, H2 under $2 for example, will open up new export opportunities and create jobs across Australia.

Now, Australia is already an energy superpower.

Our geographic, demographic and renewable strengths will see us strengthen our position as an energy supplier of choice throughout our region.

And by developing these technologies, Australia can make a contribution to emissions reduction well beyond our own domestically focused efforts.

These technologies have the potential to significantly reduce emissions from energy, transport, agriculture and industry, in sectors accounting for around 90 per cent of the world's emissions.

In a world obsessed with targets, it can be easy to forget that we're dealing with a global challenge.

To focus on what we think we can control, regulate or tax.

But a global challenge requires a global solution.

And that means we'll bring the rest of the world - particularly the fast-growing economies of the Indo-Pacific region - along with us, and we need to bring them along with us if we’re to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

On the international front, Australia is already working with our customer countries and strategic partners on practical technology-led solutions.

We're a trusted and reliable supplier of the energy, metals and minerals needed to fuel their economies.

Australia's record-breaking LNG exports are reducing emissions overseas, particularly when they support the integration of more renewable energy into electricity grids.

And we're absolutely committed to remaining one of the top LNG exporters globally.

But equally, we won't let new opportunities pass us by.

A recent example of our focus on practical solutions is the signing of an MoU with Singapore to advance cooperation on low emissions technologies.

The MoU builds on existing agreements with other likeminded countries, including Japan, Korea and Germany.

These countries are looking for opportunities to invest in Australian projects and supply chains, especially in areas of hydrogen and carbon capture.

That's why the Government has set aside funding to establish Australia's first hydrogen export hub in this year's Budget.

As well as establishing a $50 million Carbon Capture Use and Storage Development Fund on top of that first hydrogen hub.

These initiatives are all about capitalising on rapidly emerging opportunities.

Now, our partner countries recognise that there's no silver bullet here.

That we need to bring a portfolio of technologies to maturity as we look to reduce emissions while maintaining strong economies.

The election of a Biden administration also presents a new opportunity to deepen collaboration with our most important strategic partner, the United States.

I'm pleased to see President-elect Biden has signalled he'll invest heavily in many of the priority technologies identified in our Roadmap, including hydrogen, carbon capture and soil carbon.

It's yet another indicator in support of the approach Australia is taking. We're also supporting global partnerships like the Leadership Group for Industry Transition and Mission Innovation, where we co-led the Renewable and Clean Hydrogen Innovation Challenge.

So, to conclude, I'm confident that our approach is yielding and will yield results.

It’s the approach that has led us to beating our Kyoto-era targets by 430 million tonnes, almost a year's worth of emissions, even as our energy-intensive export industries have rapidly grown over that time period.

We're one of a select group of countries to meet and beat our international commitments.

And we've outlined an ambitious pathway forward for this nation that will see us investing in the technologies of the future in a way that doesn't punish the consumers of today.

An approach that doesn't stifle innovation or put a straitjacket on consumer choice.

Because this is a plan that's focused on outcomes.

A plan to bring the world with us.

And a plan that will deliver jobs, investment and the strong economy that Australians want and deserve.

Thank you.