Australia and Canada: Two countries one goal to reach net zero

Zero. It’s the biggest number of our time and one that needs to be reached by 2050. And in that quest are two countries that while separated by thousands of kilometres have a lot more in common than most realise.

Australia’s federal government has made a firm commitment to drive the country’s transition to net zero and has enshrined in law targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 43% from 2005 levels by 2030 and net zero by 2050.

The government is investing $24.9 billion over this decade to deliver a range of climate change and energy transformation priorities. Australia’s targets are well documented and each state and territory have their own separate initiatives.

As part of the Sectoral emissions reduction strategy released in December 2023, the Western Australian government is investing an additional $18 million to 2030‒31 ($11.2 million to 2026‒27) to expand the Clean Energy Future Fund, to support trials and implementation of new technologies necessary for the state’s net zero transition.

The Clean Energy Future Fund was first launched in 2020 and is administered by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation with support from Energy Policy WA.

A clean energy future for Queensland has also been announced — a 70% renewables target by 2032 — as part of the $62 billion Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan. The plan outlines a number of key renewables targets and actions, to deliver clean, reliable and affordable energy for Queenslanders.

These are but just a few of the initiatives at the state and federal levels in Australia.

Some 15,000km away, similar programs are being rolled out across another renowned mining jurisdiction that shares many similarities to Australia – Canada.

Battery Age Minerals Falcon Lake Lithium Project, Canada 

As Mining.com.au previously reported the two countries share similarities when it comes to mining. The north of both countries is rich in resources but have underdeveloped infrastructure. They’re sparsely populated where large proportions of inhabitants are indigenous. Both are large physical areas with similar geopolitical environments and are well-endowed with minerals and resources.

In a December 2023 report, EY notes Canada is actively pushing towards developing a strong clean energy value chain through the implementation of tax incentives and strategic funding initiatives.

EY says Canada has a strong potential to grow in this segment by leveraging its leading position in lithium, cobalt, and nickel reserves. In 2022, the sector witnessed a 31% year-over-year increase in critical mineral export value, compared to an 8% growth in the total metal trade.

The Canadian government has committed support for clean technology projects through allocation of dedicated funds. These include the Critical Minerals Infrastructure Fund where C$1.5 billion has been allocated to develop energy and transportation projects needed for production of critical minerals.

The Strategic Innovation Fund also has C$1.5 billion allocated for projects related to clean technologies such as renewables, hydrogen and CCUS, critical minerals extraction and processing, and industrial transformation. An additional $500 million was allocated for the development and application of clean energy specifically.

At provincial level, in November 2023 in Ontario, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson launched of the Call for Proposals (CFP) of the Critical Minerals Infrastructure Fund (CMIF).

The CMIF seeks to address key infrastructure gaps to enable sustainable critical minerals production and to connect resources to markets. With up to C$1.5 billion available over seven years, the fund aims to support clean energy and electrification initiatives as well as transportation and infrastructure projects that will enable the sustainable development of Canada’s critical minerals.

The CMIF is a key component of the Canadian Critical Minerals Strategy and has been designed to complement other clean energy and transportation support that is already benefiting the critical minerals sector.

By investing in the foundational and enabling infrastructure needed to develop critical minerals projects, Canada is helping to realise economic opportunities along the value chain, from exploration and sustainable extraction to processing, advanced manufacturing, and recycling, while simultaneously supporting the development of clean technologies essential to achieve a global net zero emissions economy.

At the launch last year, Minister Wilkinson noted how critical minerals are a generational economic opportunity for Canada.

“As major enablers of clean technologies and clean energy sources, demand for critical minerals is projected to rise exponentially as the global economy continues to shift toward low-carbon solutions.

Through the C$1.5 billion Critical Minerals Infrastructure Fund, Canada will make strategic investments in projects to help enable and grow the sustainable development of these minerals, reinforcing Canada’s position as a global supplier of choice for clean technology, clean energy and the resources the world needs to build a prosperous net zero economy.”

At the time, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne said developing Canada’s critical minerals value chains will not only boost the competitiveness of the minerals and metals sector, it will also support Canada’s transition toward a net zero economy and create well-paying jobs for Canadians.

“With investments through the Critical Minerals Infrastructure Fund and the Strategic Innovation Fund, our government is strengthening the electric vehicle value chain we’re building from coast to coast to coast by adding value to our critical minerals resources, from mineral processing to manufacturing and recycling.”

To support the effective, sustained, and timely transition to a green economy – and to realise the province’s net zero goals – in early April 2024 in Newfoundland and Labrador, Minister of Industry, Energy and Technology Andrew Parsons announced the first two projects to receive funding from the Green Transition Fund.

The Green Transition Fund provides support to projects for businesses, organisations, post-secondary institutions, and industry associations, as well as other collaborative efforts to assist with the province’s transition to a green economy. The program seeks to de-risk commercial and non-commercial activities that facilitate collaboration, investment, and industry growth required for the transition.

As part of the restructuring of its agreement with the provincial government in May 2022 to restart the West White Rose project, project partners committed $100 million to establish the fund. The annual payment began at $6 million in 2023 and will increase to $12 million in 2034-35.

Minister Parsons says these first investments show that Newfoundland and Labrador organisations understand the importance of decarbonisation by taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Supporting a green economy across the entire province is important, and these first projects show that there’s an opportunity to make our province more sustainable in every corner. My department is proud to support these industry leaders, and we look forward to helping more businesses aim for net zero goals with assistance from the fund.”

Australia’s government has also committed a record of almost $25 billion to reaching emissions targets through its Powering Australia plan, including funding for projects that unlock opportunities for investors in clean energy and other low-carbon technologies.

Rewiring the Nation provides $20 billion in low-cost finance to expand and modernise Australia’s electricity grids to support more renewable power. The government’s plan will see the portion of renewable energy in our National Electricity Market increase to 82 per cent by 2030.

The $1.9 billion Powering the Regions Fund (PRF) will support the decarbonisation of existing industries and the creation of new clean energy industries.

Up to $3 billion from the National Reconstruction Fund will support renewables manufacturing and the deployment of low-emissions technologies, including clean energy component manufacturing and hydrogen electrolysers.

Additional funds for specific clean energy technologies including more than $525 million investments in regional hydrogen hubs; more than $325 million for community solar batteries and banks; up to $100 million in equity to support establishment of a battery manufacturing precinct; and $500 million funding for electric vehicle charging infrastructure and hydrogen highways.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) provides grants for research and development and early-stage commercialisation of low emissions technology and renewable energy projects.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation supports energy efficiency, renewable energy and low emissions technology projects through loans and equity investments. This includes the new $500 million Powering Australia Technology Fund focused on businesses commercialisation.

While by no means an expansive list or look at the governmental funds available, at a glance it appears as though Australia and Canada continue to stay aligned in their quest to lead the transition to net zero emissions.

Write to Adam Orlando at Mining.com.au

Images: Cazaly & Government of Newfoundland and Labrador (Birds Eye Inc.)
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Written By Adam Orlando
Mining.com.au Editor-in-Chief Adam Orlando has more than 20 years’ experience in the media having held senior roles at various publications, including as Asia-Pacific Sector Head (Mining) at global newswire Acuris (formerly Mergermarket). Orlando has worked in newsrooms around the world including Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and Sydney.