Greentech discussion paper

UNSW and Allens Linklaters participate in a roundtable on the Green Technology Discussion Paper

Greentech stream leaders Bronwen Morgan and Zsofia Korosy were delighted to have the opportunity to discuss the implications of the stream’s freshly-released Green technology and regulatory settings in Australia: an overview and discussion paper with technical, legal and regulatory experts during a roundtable, jointly organised by the Allens Hub and Allens Linklaters, on 24 November 2022.

The roundtable brought together experts from environmental humanities and engineering at UNSW, as well as leading specialists from related legal fields from Allens Linklaters and from the Australian Energy Market Commission. The discussion paper, which addresses four green technologies related to energy and carbon abatement (electric vehicles, renewable energy storage, hydrogen, waste to energy), proposes a principles-based approach to regulation. It argues that carbon abatement, as vital as it is, cannot be the only goal of greentech regulation. Instead, it proposes three principles on which regulation might be based, explicitly inviting discussion and refinement of these.

  • Energy justice
  • Just access to space and mobility
  • The need to keep within the Earth’s ecological limits.

Participants at the roundtable were asked to reflect on the implications of the principles for key features of the fields they work in. The conversation was wide-ranging and provocative. It extended across questions of how regulatory frameworks could potentially support engineers and other technical experts to engage with the needs of the humans relying on that technology; the extent to which design processes are inclusive; and the points at which inclusion and consultation with households and other users can be amended and amplified.

The roundtable considered whether the principles might shape the development of the new emissions reduction component of the national energy objectives. Participants also reflected on the roles of creative collaboration between various actors in catalysing change, such as the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, city councils and regional urban commissions, multilateral financial institutions and large philanthropists. Such collaborations have the potential to consider holistic system-level change which could motivate the development of green technologies in accordance with the principles highlighted by the report. The discussion also touched on the importance of ensuring that regulation did not stifle development and investment rather than providing incentives for innovation, and the ways in which the rapidly increasing salience of ESG (environmental, social, governance) principles for all investors has the potential to incentivise principles highlighted in the report without necessarily involving direct government regulation.

The discussion provided a great deal of stimulus for future development of the greentech project.

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