Bowen commits Australia to allowing US investment in clean energy industries
September 22, 2022
(See translation in Arabic section)
Sydney - Middle East Times Int’l: Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen and US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry have signed a Letter of Intent in the US city of Pittsburgh to break down barriers for US companies to invest in Australia’s clean energy industries.
The signing of the Clean Energy Demand Initiative (CEDI) will make it easier to encourage cost-competitive and efficient markets, and implement credible and transparent systems for investors.
Apple, Johnson & Johnson, Google and Amazon are some of the US companies that expressed interest in investing in Australia’s clean energy generation infrastructure. These companies could invest up to $2.9 billion to increase renewable deployment.
Mr Bowen said the signing of the CEDI was another step towards closer ties between Australia and the US on climate action.
“By setting up a favourable market environment for investment, we are signalling to US companies that we welcome international partners to support our clean energy future.
“It is another milestone for our relationship with the US after we signed the Australia – United States Net Zero Technology Acceleration Partnership in July.
John Kerry (L) and Chris Bowen
“The Initiative also sends a signal to the world that Australia is open for business as a reliable investment as the world heads towards net zero emissions by 2050.”
The CEDI signing occurred in Pittsburgh, in the margins of the Global Clean Energy Action Forum in which Australia committed to co-operation on solar manufacturing and supply chains.
Excerpt of the keynote address by Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen to the American-Australian Association benefit dinner in New York on Tuesday, September 20:
It is often said what makes the Australia-US relationship so strong is that it is underpinned by shared interests, values and sacrifices, and by a myriad of institutional and people-to-people links.
The alliance is stronger than any one personality, administration or government.
It is said because it is unquestionably true. I would never seek to deny it. But that does not mean that something else cannot also be true.
That the alliance can be even stronger and more effective when the Australian Government and the US Administration are completely aligned on objectives and actions on big challenges facing our countries and the world.
No challenge is bigger than climate change, and our respective Governments are completely aligned in our approach to the biggest challenge facing us.
This means that the Australia-US alliance is being called on again in difficult circumstances, just as it has been called on numerous occasions to deal with challenges over the last 70 years.
That’s what I want to focus my remarks on: how closely the Biden Administration and Albanese Government are working together on the issue of climate change and how there is scope for us to do even more, together.
Of course, the changing climate needs a lot more than Australia and the US working together. It’s such an enormous issue that every country needs to be tackling it, and our multilateral institutes need to be focused on it.
President Biden says: “when I look at climate change, I see jobs”. In the Albanese Government, we say the world’s climate emergency is Australia’s jobs opportunity. We are of course, saying the same thing.
The Biden Administration just passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which could just as easily have been called the Emissions Reduction Act. The Albanese Government just passed our Climate Act through parliament.
We are aligned because we see action on climate as urgent, and we are also determined that our citizens benefit from the jobs and investment opportunities created by the massive economic transformation that climate change demands.
This co-operation and alignment come at a crucial time:
How much we collectively reduce emissions over the next decade will determine whether we can keep the world’s warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
But we know as well that geo-political tension makes multilateral progress on climate change harder. This makes co-operation between nations like the US and Australia on climate-related issues more important.
Australia and the United States have both suffered from the impacts of climate change.
Increasingly, with worsening impact and longer fire seasons, our periods of exposure to bushfires and wildfires are increasingly overlapping, making it harder for us to share our expertise and personnel with each other.
John Kerry (L) and Chris Bowen
The cost of inaction is huge. Fires are one example of the impact of climate change – there are many more as well. But for our two nations, the economic dividend of well-designed climate policies in both countries is equally large.
In Australia, our approach is clear: policies that deliver real emissions reduction and real job creation.
We believe we can be a renewable energy powerhouse, superpower… choose your preferred superlative. Australia has the potential, with the right policies, to be that. And to create all the jobs that go with it.
Bilaterally I see this through the prism of technology co-operation and the sharing of best practice climate policy.
Our shared net zero journey is well underway. The US is turbocharging onshore clean energy manufacturing, and building more clean energy components and getting them into households. In Australia, we’re working towards 82% of our electricity coming from renewable energy by 2030.
There’s so much work to do together as we deal with supply chain challenges and labour market shortages.
Australia has some of the world’s largest supplies of nickel, rutile, tantalum and zircon, which are some of the most important minerals in the production of clean energy elements such as solar panels and batteries.
We’re also the largest exporter of lithium. Yet the end use of these materials in manufacturing clean energy components is highly concentrated elsewhere – we remain reliant on volatile overseas supply chains to meet our decarbonisation goals.
I’m pleased that we have already taken some positive steps in this area.
Our partnership will ramp up our capacity to produce, refine and manufacture critical minerals at all stages of the supply chain.
But this isn’t a set and forget – the scale of the problem, and the urgency of the solution, will require significant whole-of-economy efforts from both nations.
We want Australia to be a trusted and reliable source of key materials up and down the renewable supply chain, not just of raw minerals but of manufactured compounds and of exported renewable energy itself.
So both our countries stand to benefit from closer collaboration - as we change the climate threat into economic opportunity.
Of course, if the world is to hold temperature rise to as close as possible to 1.5 degrees, the whole world needs to see progress in emissions reduction.
To be frank, it has been difficult for Australia to play a constructive role, let alone a leadership role in international climate discussions when we have been too focused on domestic debates over climate for the last decade.
That period is over. Australia is back - and is a constructive partner for ambition in international discussions.
Under the new government, we’ll be playing an active, not a recalcitrant role in international climate change negotiations.