6 minute read

Towards carbon positive

Theo Comino
21 August 2018

I was recently fortunate to give the keynote presentation at the City of Sydney ‘Towards Carbon Positive’ event. The event was held with Better Building Partnership and CitySwitch members to discuss the pathway for organisations towards a net zero carbon future and beyond.

I shared AGL’s journey as we transition to a carbon constrained future, taking participants through the challenges faced and opportunities which have arisen out of it. You can have a look at my presentation here.

Stepping through our emissions journey

From an emissions perspective, the last several years has seen AGL experience significant change to a high of 44MtCO2e in FY16 following the acquisition of the AGL Macquarie assets which includes Liddell and Bayswater power stations.

Through this time, public sentiment around the importance of climate change has fluctuated. We’ve seen the repeal of the Clean Energy Act (the carbon price) at one end of the spectrum and we’ve seen Australia commit to the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels at the other. The later has been very significant and was discussed at the event.

The Paris Agreement allowed governments to set nationally determined contributions to meet a target to limit global warming to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, in a bottom up approach to tackling climate change. This has flowed through to companies like AGL, each determining our necessary contributions through scenario analysis.

What has AGL done to become more carbon positive?

As Australia’s largest emitter we have a corresponding responsibility to reduce those emissions in a responsible way that allows for clean, sustainable and affordable energy.

Our first major step was the release of our Greenhouse Gas policy in 2015 which commits to the closure of our coal generators by 2050 as well as not extending the operating life of any of our existing coal-fired power stations before that time. This commitment and focus on decarbonisation, led to the launch of several new initiatives including the Powering Australian Renewables Fund, the Virtual Power Plant, the development of the NSW Generation Plan and a number of new generation projects.

In short, this is a priority for our business and we believe it is essential that we are transparent about climate change, and the risks and opportunities it poses. Our view on this is detailed in the new ‘Powering a Climate Resilient Economy’ report, released last week.

How are other organisations working towards a net zero carbon future?

After my presentation I was part of a panel discussion involving representatives from Westpac, Investa Property Group, DEXUS Property Group, the Investor Group on Climate Change, and Point Advisory. We discussed all things carbon related including the prospect of power purchase agreements and differing offset products.

As discussed on the panel, translating this to smaller organisations can be difficult and the CitySwitch program is doing a great job of enabling office-based businesses do their part in moving towards being carbon positive. City Switch has partnered with Point Advisory to develop a tool to help businesses determine their pathway.

The outcomes of the CitySwitch program are impressive. This council driven initiative helps office-based businesses improve their energy and waste efficiency. The program is free and focuses on providing support, tools, and targets for commercial office tenants, and the program has led to a saving of over 600,000 tCO2e in 2017.

For more about CitySwitch and Towards Carbon Positive click here.