The University of Sydney today hosted the opening ceremony of the Net-Zero Initiative (NZI) Conference and the Australian Circular Economy Conference. The two events have been jointly hosted by the University and Circular Australia to showcase the latest in technology, research and development and thinking in decarbonisation and circular economies – areas vital to the global march toward net zero.
The week-long conference will feature talks on topics including carbon capture and conversion, creating circular economies, how communities can end the climate wars, and how waste can be transformed into energy and materials.
Including researchers, industry, start-ups, government, and not-for-profit organisations working in renewable energy, climate change modelling, decarbonisation, low emissions technologies, and carbon capture and conversion, the conference aims to share insights on new technology, knowledge on net zero and circular economy, and discuss related trends in policy, research, education, business and industry.
Speaking at the conference opening, Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Annamarie Jagose said that the University’s Net-Zero-Initiative, launched earlier this year, had accelerated research in high priority areas of decarbonisation.
“As part of a huge international push to reduce global warming, the University is partnering strategically with industry, government and community organisations to drive significant change. Through our Net Zero Initiative, we're accelerating game-changing research that several decades ago would have seemed fanciful. From capturing historical CO2 from the atmosphere through to harnessing materials that previously would have ended up in landfill, our researchers are at the forefront of this work,” said Professor Jagose.
Net Zero Initiative lead from the Faculty of Engineering Professor Ken-Tye Yong said the Initiative had been conceived to facilitate cooperation across various levels of society and to help Australian industry gain first mover advantage globally by developing innovative and commercially viable emissions reduction technologies.
“Our vision is bold: to position Australia as a global destination point for net zero and decarbonisation technology through research collaboration, commercialisation, start-ups, education, training and investment. Australia has extraordinary assets – solar and wind resources, renewable technologies, mineral resources, land mass and infrastructure – that can take us to being a global superpower in net zero emissions,” said Professor Yong.
“I can’t help but feel hopeful and optimistic that we will find solutions for a more positive future for generations to come by working together with government and industry partners to build a path towards net zero and a circular society,” he said.
Federal Minister for Industry and Science, the Hon. Ed Husic delivered a virtual address in which he said that good climate, energy and circular economy policy coupled with investment in Australian know-how and manufacturing would help to deliver national economic prosperity and well-being.
“That’s why the work being demonstrated at this week’s conference is so important. Putting our economy on a shared path to net zero will create new jobs, enable supply chain resilience, and help retain the value of materials in the economy.”
“It’s a great opportunity to create manufacturing systems that are optimised, to be less resource intensive, produce less waste, and have less impact on the environment. The Albanese Government will help this come to fruition through our future Made in Australia policy, and the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund.”
NSW Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer and for COVID Recovery, The Hon. Felicity Wilson, said the NSW Government had committed grants and incentives, including $1 billion to the Net Zero Industry and Innovation program, to support technology and innovation that both benefit the environment and also help our industries to prosper.
"We do need all our best and brightest minds engaged as we take on this massive task of transforming our economy to a clean, prosperous future. We want to harness the power of collaboration between researchers, industry, capital, start-ups, not-for-profits and governments."
The skills needed for a decarbonised and circular economy have also been a large focus of the Net Zero Initiative. Worley, a leading global provider of professional project and asset services in the energy, chemicals and resources sectors, today announced it would be funding two PhD scholarships at the University, supporting students researching climate change risk in the John Grill Institute for Project Leadership.
“Worley’s purpose is delivering a more sustainable world and we are committed to supporting Australia and the world deliver decarbonisation at pace and scale and to create clean economies of the future,” said Chris Ashton, Chief Executive Officer of Worley.
"We recognise solving the sustainability challenges facing the world requires new and different partnerships and coalitions to catalyse breakthrough thinking and approaches. We are pleased to support two PhD students as they research the global challenge of climate change risk.”
The Net Zero Initiative will advance research and development in four key areas – climate change risk, zero emissions electricity, zero emissions fuels and products and carbon capture and removal – and brings together over 100 of the world’s foremost researchers in engineering, science, urban planning, policy, carbon accounting, behavioural science and renewables.
Break-out sessions of the conference will be held throughout the week, for more information see: