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NSW Decarbonisation Innovation Study

In September 2019 the Minister for Energy and Environment requested that the Chief Scientist & Engineer undertake a study into the challenges and opportunities for meeting emissions targets and adapting to climate change, while generating economic development, prosperity and jobs growth in NSW.

Terms of Reference

Background and context

The NSW Government has a target of achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and to make NSW more resilient to a changing climate. One of the five policy directions in the NSW Climate Change Policy Framework is "Take advantage of opportunities to grow new industries in NSW". The shift to a net-zero emissions economy can create new opportunities in sectors where NSW has a competitive advantage, such as professional services, agriculture, advanced energy technology, property management and financial services. However, such a shift will affect established sectors of the NSW economy such as resources and commodities.

There may be an opportunity for NSW to become a global leader in innovative technologies and services that enable decarbonisation and adaptation to climate change. A decarbonisation innovation strategy could deliver economic and job growth, improve energy affordability and support a managed transition of the energy market from high to low emission energy sources. It could also catalyse change in the emissions profile of all major industry sectors. Innovation in decarbonisation and adaptation technologies and services could serve the dual purpose of addressing the NSW emissions and adaptation challenge and growing the NSW economy through economic diversification and export opportunities.

Scope of Review

The Chief Scientist & Engineer is to assess and provide advice on the challenges and opportunities for meeting emissions targets and adapting to climate change. This work will examine the benefits of decarbonisation and climate adaptation in generating economic development, prosperity and jobs growth in NSW, including a discussion of best practice approaches to transitioning industry, including skills development and market access.

The Chief Scientist & Engineer will report on:

  1. Technologies and services to reduce carbon emissions, adapt to or mitigate the impact of climate change in which NSW could have a competitive advantage
  2. The net value of these technologies and services for NSW in terms of both emissions reduction and economic growth
  3. Any barriers to the development of the technologies and services in NSW
  4. The role of the NSW Government in:
    1. Addressing any of the identified barriers
    2. Supporting the acceleration of the development/commercialisation of these opportunities, and
    3. Ensuring that NSW takes advantage of carbon emission reduction technologies to maximise economic opportunities.

The Chief Scientist & Engineer will convene a panel with expertise in science and technology, business, economic and social insights. As needed, the Chief Scientist & Engineer will draw on additional sources of advice and expertise, undertake targeted consultation with stakeholders and commission or recommend papers or studies. The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment will provide support to the study as required.

Expert Panel

To assist with addressing the Terms of Reference, the Chief Scientist & Engineer has established an expert panel. The expert panel membership is:

  • Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte (Chair)
  • Professor Michael Dureau
  • Professor Frank Jotzo
  • Ms Meg McDonald
  • Mr Roger Swinbourne

Scoping Paper (March 2020)

The expert panel has developed a scoping paper, available below, that provides context on the pathways, opportunities and challenges of decarbonisation and climate adaptation in sectors relevant to the NSW economy. It also provides an overview of the technologies and services to reduce carbon emissions and to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate. Across these technologies and services, potential economic opportunities for NSW are identified based on NSW’s competitive advantages.

The final report will evaluate these potential opportunities in more detail and identify those that have the greatest potential economic and employment benefit for NSW, and those that are feasible, suitable, and technically and commercially viable. The final report will also identify potential actions to realise these opportunities.

The scoping paper captures some insights from initial consultations with stakeholders from industry, government and the community. In developing the final report, further engagement with stakeholders will occur, particularly those who have a role in addressing challenges associated with decarbonisation and climate adaptation.

NSW Decarbonisation Innovation Study Scoping Paper

Final Report (August 2020)

The final report for the NSW Decarbonisation Innovation Study has been developed, and is available below. The report, ‘Opportunities for prosperity in a decarbonised and resilient NSW’, details the final list of economic opportunities associated with decarbonisation and climate adaptation across all sectors of the NSW economy including services, electricity, industry, the built environment, land and transport. Next steps to realising these opportunities have also been considered and detailed. The report also provides information on the technical and commercial readiness in NSW of a number of decarbonisation and climate adaptation technologies, NSW’s research and development capabilities in decarbonisation and climate adaptation, and approaches to effective transition. The report has been developed with advice from the expert panel and consultation with a diverse range of stakeholders from all sectors.

NSW Decarbonisation Innovation Study Final Report

NSW Decarbonisation Innovation Hub

The Office of the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer is establishing a Decarbonisation Innovation Hub under the Net Zero Industry and Innovation Program. The Decarbonisation Innovation Hub will support researchers, industry and government stakeholders in critical sectors to collaborate, and increase the uptake of new technologies in decarbonising NSW.

Homepage image credit: Stuart Cohen/DPIE