Parliament Updates

Zali Steggall MP speaks on the Technology Investment Roadmap

12 May, 2021


I thank the member for Robertson for raising this important topic. The Technology Investment Roadmap is the government's centrepiece climate policy. We've all heard the slogans—'Technology, not taxes.' There is, in fact, nothing else presented by the government. The policy provides a process to set and achieve, theoretically, technology goals like making hydrogen under $2 per kilo. Progress is measured via low-emissions-technology statements, and the advice on the road map is provided by a ministerial reference panel appointed by the minister and headed by the Chief Scientist, with business leaders and bankers also appointed. In sum, although it's welcome as a method to assess technology readiness, it is wrong to say that this is an emissions reduction plan or an entire way of addressing climate change policy.

The Technology Investment Roadmap in and of itself is not enough, and it is not a comprehensive climate action plan. It lacks accountability and transparency measures and relies on dodgy assumptions. The road map lacks sufficient funding to drive technologies to even have a hope of achieving its stated purpose. To drive technologies down the cost curve, to achieve meaningful emission reductions, it would have been a centrepiece of the budget last night. In the road map, the government aims to promote technology diffusion through leveraging public investment via the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Regulator.

The government is hoping to get to net zero using taxpayer money but offered just 0.8 per cent of total budget spend to the environment and climate. Short of the level of spending our trading partners contribute to green initiatives, in their recovery stimulus, in their budgets—for example, the EU target 30 per cent of their spending on green initiatives in their budget and recovery fund—it is a stark contrast. If the government is serious and genuine, it will dramatically increase its spending and focus on clean technologies.

We also have to be very clear that the government is picking winners by throwing money at technologies like carbon capture and storage and blue hydrogen. Let's be clear: carbon capture and storage is like throwing good money after bad. This is an expensive technology that has not delivered results. This is not going to achieve the goals or get us anywhere near net zero. Blue hydrogen is hydrogen made from gas. Again, this is not going to be adequate or accepted by international markets. They want green hydrogen. The only hydrogen that will be economic and clean is if it is made using renewables. To quote former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, 'The only responsible hydrogen is green, and the only use of CCS is limited.' The bulk of public investment and public money should be to deploy technologies via price signals and mechanisms. That way, the market can choose the most efficient path forward so the technologies can work.

We need to look at the modelling that is used in this centrepiece of policy, because it does fall apart under scrutiny. There are grand claims, in relation to jobs and how many millions of tonnes of emissions will be achieved, but there is no detail. The road map does not outline any detail of where the jobs will come from or how they will be created, nor which policies are responsible for what emissions reductions. It does not articulate policy proposals, strategies, modelling or anything that would lend credibility to the claim. There is no discussion of international approaches. There are no case studies. It is simply picking certain technologies.

Sadly, we know from the inquiry into the climate change bills that the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources has not been asked by the government to model a pathway to net zero. It begs the question: if you haven't done it by now or asked the department to do it by now, what are you waiting for? It doesn't fill you with confidence that the only policy we have under the government is a policy that may deliver—at the moment, we're on target for a 22 per cent reduction by 2030, and there is a hope that a technology roadmap will deliver us a potential seven per cent to possibly get to 29 per cent. This is in a situation where our trading partners more than double our ambition for emissions reduction by 2030.

Let's be really clear: we need a lot more accountability, a lot more transparency and a lot more commitment to reducing emissions to have any hope of getting to net zero as soon as possible, as the Prime Minister repeatedly says. The technology roadmap is a piece of the puzzle, but it is a long way from the whole puzzle that we need.