Second, there has been an increase in investment in capacity to produce many of the green metals and hydrogen, as well as strongly rising exports of lithium, albeit off a low base. Australia has the world’s largest natural reserves of lithium, and ranks in the top five for a range of energy transition inputs, including rare earths, cobalt, and manganese, and exports key conventional metals, including copper, nickel and zinc.
The total of the value of ‘green’ commodity exports – largely lithium – has risen to an expected AUD20bn in 2022-23, up from AUD1bn in 2020, which is good progress but only accounts for c4% of Australia’s total resource and energy exports over the past year, while exports of coal and gas summed to AUD249bn in 2022. Likewise, renewable investment rose to AUD6bn in 2022, equivalent to c5% of annual construction.
There are many other dimensions of the energy transition, including reducing mining-related emissions, grasping carbon-capture opportunities, modernising the capital stock to meet higher environmental standards, and reforms to legislation, such as the Safeguard Mechanism.
Policymakers have increased support of the energy transition recently, but more action is needed, as Australia is not on track to meet its emissions targets.
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