Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest urges Morrison government to commit to net zero by 2050

Dr Andrew Forrest said it is time the government committed to net zero. Picture: Getty Images
Dr Andrew Forrest said it is time the government committed to net zero. Picture: Getty Images

Mining magnate Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest has warned big business will shift overseas if the federal government is unable to support the transition to a decarbonised economy.

Speaking at the National Press Club on Thursday, Dr Forrest said it was time the federal government came to the table and formally committed to a 2050 net zero position before the Glasgow COP26 talks, which kick off in two weeks.

The address by the chair of iron ore giant Fortescue Metals Group, coincided with comments from the deputy governor of the Reserve Bank, Guy Debelle, who stressed not tackling climate risks would see overseas investment dry up in Australia.

Dr Forrest, who recently pledged the construction of green hydrogen plants in both Queensland and New South Wales, stressed Australia could be a global energy superpower in the renewable energy "boom".

A move which he says would lower the sovereign risk surrounding the domestic energy market and boost local manufacturing jobs in the regions.

"Australia can become a global green future manufacturing centre and energy superpower," he said.

"What you're seeing here is economic and energy independent sovereignty - being brought back to Australia.

"Our green hydrogen, our green ammonia and our green fertilisers will not be determined by what Saudi Arabia or Russia, in a good mood or not, which determines our quality of life, might cosily collude what the price might be."

The West Australian billionaire flagged "mud slinging" anti-climate rhetoric in the ranks of Coalition are on the decline, noting federal politicians need to support the transition to cleaner energy sources that will replace fossil fuel assets.

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Dr Forrest also expressed disappointment in Senator Bridget McKenzie, who said the pledges made by Fortescue were only a "mirage" and would not boost job numbers in regional Australia.

The RBA's Dr Debelle warned capital outflows from Australia are a growing risk if climate impacts are not properly accounted for.

"The likelihood of more significant divestment is increasing," Dr Debelle said in a speech to the CFA Australia Investment Conference.

"The longer we leave actions to reduce carbon emissions, the more likely it is that we will need to take drastic and disruptive actions later."

Dr Forrest said without policy support from the Commonwealth the future of the nation's energy market would stifle the potential benefit from being a mass green hydrogen exporter.

"It won't happen at the same pace, or may not [even] happen in Australia," he said.

"We will have to take our investments, our technologies, our ideas to those countries who will strongly welcome us."

During his speech, Dr Forrest noted hydrogen technology had to be made up entirely from renewable sources, claiming the term "clean" hydrogen were "misleading soundbytes", put out by the fossil fuel industry "wishing to continue a duplicitous social licence to operate".

"This sector is better off simply burning the coal, the oil, the gas, than they are in hiding the emissions through turning it into blue-grey hydrogen, and having our otherwise astute Energy Minister, Angus Taylor, misled into selling it as clean," Dr Forrest said.

Blue and grey hydrogen are sources of hydrogen energy derived from fossil fuels.

This story Mining magnate tells Morrison to come to table on net zero first appeared on The Canberra Times.