Speech on Australia as a Renewable Energy Superpower, Australian Embassy, Japan
Good morning and thank you for that warm welcome.
I’m delighted to be here in Japan for what I regard as an important visit to a very important trading partner and friend of Australia.
Japan and Australia have a long and rich history when it comes to energy co-operation but I believe the days of our most productive relationship are very much ahead of us.
We both have the goal of reaching net zero by 2050. And our pathway to that destination will be a lot smoother for each if there is close collaboration between us.
This visit comes at a time, of course, when we are being deluged with reminders about how urgent it is to deal with the climate crisis.
Heatwaves and natural disasters right around the world, sparing no country, no region.
A deluge of temperature data reminding us that climate change is not a projection or a forecast.
It is now a reality that we are living.
But it’s not too late to avoid the worst of the climate crisis, if we strive to keep the world as close as possible to 1.5 degrees of warming.
We need to be swift, and close multilateral and bilateral collaboration is vital.
This challenge is too big for countries like ours to tackle it alone.
And of course, as big as this challenge is the opportunities of getting the investment framework right, of promoting trade in renewable energy and the things that make renewable energy, are enormous.
Opportunities to cooperate on clean energy, including in critical areas such as hydrogen.
Australia-Japan energy relationship
Australia is incredibly proud of our strong and longstanding friendship with Japan.
Our Government is committed to our partnership.
We share strategic objectives and an interest in each other's prosperity and security.
At a time of uncertainty and geopolitical risk, Australia will work with you for a secure future for our region and to respond to Russia's illegal and immoral invasion of Ukraine.
As a member of the National Security Committee of the Australian Cabinet, I can reaffirm to you on defence, economic security and supply chain resilience we are committed to working with Japan as one of our most important partners.
Japan is our second largest trading partner - most notably in energy and resources, vehicles and electronics.
And Australia is committed to seeing this solid foundation not only continue - but to grow.
This trusted partnership will continue with Australia as a reliable energy supplier.
This will include LNG and traditional sources of energy, but will also include renewables, green hydrogen and its derivatives.
We are also working to support growth in new clean energy products such as green steel and green iron as well.
This is the enormous opportunity that is the centre piece of my discussions with the Japanese Government and important Japanese businesses today.
As an example, I was pleased that Australia recently joined the Japan-led Asia Zero Emission Community in March to support its focus on emissions reduction in Asia while maintaining energy security and sustainable economic growth.
To be frank, we joined because my friend Minister Nishamura told me that it was very important to Japan that Australia participates and Japan saw it as a vital opportunity for collaboration, and when Japan makes a request like that, we take it very seriously.
We look forward to working with Japan through the community.
Australia’s path to net zero
Under the Albanese Government, we aren't wasting a minute in ensuring Australia is at the heart of these opportunities.
Our Government is laying out the roadmap for our nation to become a renewable energy superpower.
One of the first steps our Government took when elected last year was enshrining in law of our country our ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution of 43 per cent emissions reduction by 2030, along with net zero by 2050.
To achieve these legislated emissions-reduction targets, we’ve committed to a national renewable electricity target of 82 per cent by 2030.
To get there, the Australian Government has now committed more than $40 billion to our energy transformation and climate priorities.
Of course - we've also reformed the Safeguard Mechanism, an important reform which we took to the Australian people at the last election and received a strong mandate for.
After four rounds of consultation, this reform will see Australia's biggest emitters make a proportionate contribution to our emissions reduction target and put the country on the path to net zero.
These reforms have been carefully calibrated to strike the right balance - they allow for increases in production and critically ensure that businesses which operate in hard-to-abate sectors can access high-integrity offsets to help meet their emissions reduction requirements.
High integrity offsets are readily available in our carbon market to ensure these goals can be met.
In addition, the creation of Safeguard Mechanism Credits provides an additional source of offsets and creates an additional incentive for important onsite abatement, through the generation of credits for those businesses which beat their baseline.
This means that facilities are rewarded for going over and above on their on-site emissions reduction - a critical incentive for innovation and deployment in new clean technologies.
And there will be access to funding for eligible businesses to support their emissions reduction task, including those industries which are both hard-to-abate and strategically important - such as steel, which will be critical to our clean energy transformation.
This policy provides critical certainty for industry under a framework they were already operating under and familiar with, that’s been in place since 2014, and has been supported by each of Australia’s peak business groups.
They know that renewables are now the cheapest form of electricity generation in Australia.
Scaling up the investment needed in renewables and clean energy technology will require a substantial injection of private capital and investment, including from international partners and major global companies.
For example, I warmly welcome Inpex’s very significant investment in Enel Green Power Australia.
Frankly, this investment is important because it is large, but it is also important symbolically because it reflects the potential, the very big potential that I am here talking about today: the opportunity for large Japanese traditional energy companies investing in Australian renewable energy.
We have no shortage of sun in Australia, nor a shortage of wind.
But we have always been hungry for more capital.
We welcome the investment in renewable energy from domestic firms, from multi-nationals. We welcome it from renewable only companies and from fossil fuel companies diversifying and making the transition to renewables.
Japanese investment in gas has helped create this sector for Australia and a source of energy security for Japan.
And in the same way, Japan and Australia's partnership and investment in renewable energy can help both our countries meet our energy needs and emissions targets.
Expanding ties and building new supply chains
Now we all know that achieving net zero isn't just about renewables - we can’t achieve our climate targets without accelerating the development of new energy sources and also, to be frank, diversifying our supply chains.
Our Government wants Australia to be a manufacturing centre for more and playing a bigger role in global supply chains in relation to renewable energy.
We also welcome friends and partners making more things as well.
This very topic dominates our Quad Energy Ministers meetings where Minister Nishimura and I participate. How can the Quad, which Australia values very highly work closely to diversify our supply chains?
It is not in any one’s best interest, in our view for critical energy supply chains to be dominated by one country. We know that energy security is national security.
Earlier this week I announced $50 million in Australian Government funding for work to help other countries in our region to develop their renewable related manufacturing.
Of course, we have a key role to play ourselves.
Australia is endowed with minerals – lithium, nickel, cobalt, and graphite – critical to technologies that harness and store renewable energy.
We are ramping up our capacity to produce, refine and manufacture them in order to be a trusted and reliable source of key materials up and down the supply chain.
Not just of raw minerals – but manufactured compounds and of exported renewable energy itself.
Australia recently entered a new compact on climate, critical minerals and energy transition with the United States, establishing a third pillar in our bilateral alliance.
Integration of clean energy industrial bases will be critically important for key allies and friends.
Yesterday I was in Korea, where I had discussions with Minister Lee, and we agreed to start a new dialogue on an elevated energy partnership between both nations on clean energy and climate cooperation recognising the clean energy revolution represents significant opportunities for our two countries.
Of course, I’ll be discussing similarly with Minister Nishimura how we best update and improve the architecture around our bilateral engagement to ensure we’re making the most of partnerships and opportunities.
This is my key message.
Japan’s clean energy consumption goals dovetail our production ambitions, making us the most natural partners.
Advancing cooperation on hydrogen
Hydrogen supply chains are an obvious area for increased cooperation.
Japan has a “Hydrogen-Based Society” commitment.
We have a $300 billion pipeline of proposed hydrogen projects in Australia – the biggest pipeline in the world - with Japanese interests in several.
This is an obvious area of synergy and deeper collaboration.
Projects such as the Toyota Ecopark Hydrogen Demonstration project at the company’s decommissioned car manufacturing plant in Melbourne are an example of what we could more of and with.
Part of the site will be developed into a renewable energy hub to produce clean energy for transport and stationary applications.
And the Central Queensland Hydrogen project – a large-scale renewable hydrogen production facility near Gladstone and liquefaction plant for the nearby port are also important.
Japanese companies Iwatani Corporation, Marubeni Corporation and Kansai Electric Power Company are all involved in this project.
Our Government is providing revenue support through a $2 billion investment in our Hydrogen Headstart program to assist the industry.
Its financial incentives for large-scale projects will build on half-a-billion dollars of investment in regional hydrogen hubs.
Both Headstart and the industrial hubs will support new opportunities to collaborate on the use of hydrogen to cut emissions in steelmaking and establish new, green iron supply chains.
Australia is ready to be a serious international player in hydrogen, and we need more investment in that area.
That’s why we welcome Japanese investment in hydrogen, in projects such as the HESC and other renewables as well.
There is so much more scope for further collaboration – across R&D, supply chain development and certification.
The Government is also providing regulatory certainty for carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technology.
Our Government recognises the role CCUS can play in reducing emissions as part of the energy transition, particularly in hard-to-abate sectors.
We see this as the best focus for the Australian Government to support CCUS.
Australia and Japan are united by our institutional values and our commitment to a clean energy future.
The scope for cooperation and transformation is absolutely enormous.
Our resources-rich continent and Japan’s industrial might are a world match partnership.
We will pursue our energy goals and emissions targets while remaining a trusted and reliable supplier of energy.
We’re open for business, and raring to go.
We welcome engagement and investments from you and your businesses and networks that can support clean energy cooperation between our great countries and we look forward to making this vision a reality with you.