Blog | 08 Oct 2021

A greener Australian economy is becoming inevitable

Sean Langcake

Sean Langcake

Head of Macroeconomic Forecasting

Australia Climate Change

Policy inaction has left Australia a laggard among advanced economies in adopting lower net-emissions targets. But domestic climate policy could be about to change. With the Glasgow Climate Change Conference looming and pressure mounting on multiple fronts, the Morrison government is displaying a growing acceptance that a net-zero emissions target will need to be adopted.

Energy generation and distribution will be key to reaching any new commitments. Renewable energy investment has ramped up over the past decade, with 8.6% of Australia’s energy coming from renewables in 2019. But despite its comparative advantages in renewable energy generation, Australia’s renewables share is well below the global average of 11.4%. And it’s not just developed economies that lead Australia: China’s share of energy from renewables has jumped to 12.7%.

greenereconomyimage1While the private sector has been responsive to falling renewable energy generation costs, policy uncertainty has prevented renewable energy from reaching its potential. For much of the past decade, ambiguity around the Renewable Energy Target (RET) at the federal level made for an unfavourable investment environment. The national RET has since lapsed, but state and territory governments are picking up the slack. Yet for progress to be made, greater leadership and investment in the distribution network and storage facilities of the grid will be needed.

The current reassessment of Australia’s emissions targets is being spurred by the actions of other governments and regulators, as well as the capital markets and investors:

RBA and regulators have taken a broader approach to climate risk, which could increase costs for banks and borrowers; while recent work by financial regulators concluded that climate-change risks to the banking system are currently manageable, a transition away from emmissions-intensive industries presents a new source of risk for Australia’s banks.

greenereconomyimage2Shifting to a lower emissions target will weigh on GDP growth in the near term, given the economy’s weak starting point and the mining sector’s share of output. However, the hit to GDP will be smaller the sooner the target goal of net zero by 2050 is adopted. We expect the shift in government policy will be gradual, preventing a sharp decline in output and supporting affected industries. But there are upside opportunities from a shift to a greener economy domestically and abroad. With ready access to hydro, solar, and wind resources, Australia is well positioned to become a net exporter of clean energy; plus, green hydrogen export projects are already in the works.

You may be interested in

Aerial view of Singapore business district and city at twilight

Post

Sneak preview: our new Asia Real Estate Service

The new Asia Real Estate Economics Service helps companies understand the implications of macroeconomic, geopolitical, financial and climate change on private and public real estate performance in Asia. The first globally consistent and independent set of real estate forecasts, the service offers regular analysis and commentary from our highly experienced team of real estate economists.

Find Out More

Post

Oxford Economics Launches Global Risk Service

Oxford Economics launches our Global Risk Service, a suite of data-driven and forward-looking tools that measure macro-economic and financial crises risks in 166 countries.

Find Out More
George street, Sydney

Post

Australia’s CAPEX falters in Q1, with cost inflation to test activity

Private new capital expenditure fell 0.3% q/q in Q1 2022, led lower by a fall in buildings and structures investment. The weak result is in part due to the impact of Omicron on labour availability, and the postponement of construction activity in flood affected areas. Machinery & equipment volumes rose in the quarter.

Find Out More