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NET ZERO HUNTER

A Local Plan to Transition to Net Zero

Outcomes Report

Prepared by The Blue Tribe Company

"Getting to net zero will not be easy. I firmly believe that action on climate change must be grounded in science and economics – not ideology. Just as it is unacceptable to ignore the challenge posed by climate change, it is also unacceptable to call for an end to the modern way of life. Emissions reduction must enhance, not undermine, the prosperity and quality of life enjoyed by the people of New South Wales."

The Hon. Matt Kean, MP

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1. Executive Summary

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1.1 Overview

NSW DPE has identified an opportunity for the Hunter Region to take a leading role in supporting NSW’s transition to a net zero economy.

In stage 1 of the project undertaken in early 2021 a concept for the establishment of an alliance/consortium known as Net Zero Hunter was developed.

This outcomes report covers stage 2 of the project which was designed to achieve the following outcomes:

  • 1.Create a supported network of champions and organisations with a coordinated approach to regional transition.
  • 2.Co-design of a regional Net Zero Roadmap.
  • 3.Identification of collaborative opportunities to advanced outcomes towards a net zero future for the region.
  • 1.2 Formation of Net Zero Hunter

    Net Zero Hunter (NZH) was formed in June 2021 in an initial visioning workshop.

    Subsequent workshops were conducted in November 2021 where stakeholders from the region came together under Net Zero Hunter to develop a vision for the Hunter in 2050 and to identify key actions to achieve this future. The "Net Zero Hunter Roadmap" vision is detailed later in this report.

    The following are some of the participants in NZH to date.

    1.3 Baseline of Regional Emissions

    An analysis of regional emissions was undertaken to identify key emissions reductions opportunities and to provide a baseline to track progress of decarbonisation.

    The analysis identified that significant decarbonisation activities have already commenced within the Hunter region which creates a number of opportunities for new investment and emerging net zero solutions.

    1.4 Net Zero Hunter Roadmap

    A key output of the project was the development of the Net Zero Hunter Roadmap which represents a local plan to transition to net zero.

    Through a series of workshops, the stakeholders in NZH identified a vision for the Hunter in 2050 that included eleven strategic outcomes/opportunities for the region through the development and implementation of a net zero roadmap.




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    2. Formation of Net Zero Hunter



    2.1 Introduction

    The methodology for the formation of Net Zero Hunter (NZH) was to bring key stakeholders together around a common goal of helping to shape a net zero future for the Hunter Region and to develop a conceptual roadmap for the region.

    Three stakeholder workshops were conducted between June and November 2021.

  • 9 June 2021 - Workshop 1 created a shared vision for Net Zero Hunter
  • 4 November 2021 - Workshop 2 applied futures thinking to develop a pathway to Net Zero
  • 11 November 2021 - Workshop 3 identified key actions and milestones
  • 2.2 Workshop 1 - Creating a shared vision for Net Zero Hunter

    Net Zero Hunter formed at a kickoff workshop 9 June 2021 as an alliance between Hunter region businesses, Local and State Government, and Education and Research Institutions under an initiative led by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment through the Sustainability Advantage Program. Initially NZH has been based on the lessons learnt from the recently formed Materials and Embodied Carbon Leaders Alliance (MECLA) convened by WWF.

    It was recognised that a number of organisations in the region had made commitments to achieve net zero and that a collaborative and strategic approach was required to unlock opportunities by promoting capabilities and attracting investment and key partnerships to the region.

    The purpose of the workshop was as follows:

  • Understand the business context of achieving net zero in the Hunter
  • Frame market opportunities
  • Identify key barriers and enablers
  • Develop a range of initial ideas for the formation of Net Zero Hunter

  • The stakeholders agreed a shared vision for Net Zero Hunter (NZH).

    NZH seeks to lay the foundations for low emissions industries by building enabling infrastructure and increasing the capability of supply chains, fostering and supporting the emergence of net zero outcomes in the Hunter Region.

    The objectives of NZH include:

  • Develop a roadmap for the Hunter region to transition to a net zero economy
  • Build industry skills, confidence and knowledge, reducing risk for the transition to a net zero economy
  • Support emerging and next generation net zero technologies to move along a pathway to commercialisation through the research, development, demonstration and pre-commercial deployment stages
  • Support business models that are novel in application to reduce risk and accelerate technology transfer into the local economy with a view to establishing export markets for net zero solutions
  • Inform regulatory decisions and standards development by other agencies.
  • To date, NZH has brought together some of the region's leading capability in sustainability, engineering, and research and development as well as critical high emitting stakeholders who will be key actors in the transition to a net zero economy.

    Click the image to download the report for workshop 1.


    2.3 Workshop 2 applied futures thinking to develop a pathway to Net Zero

    NZH stakeholders developed a conceptual roadmap using a futures thinking methodology.  Rather than rely on a single future to inform a Hunter roadmap for net zero, Net Zero Hunter stakeholders explored a range of plausible futures or scenarios that might play out using a predictive, exploratory, normative and reflexive method.

    The foundation of this process rested upon the three horizons model which is a futures design approach to help work with uncertainty and navigate transitions.  Each horizon is represented horizontally across a linear timeline.


    After outlining the future desired state for the Hunter in 2050, stakeholders used a back-casting method to ideate the most opportune pathways, feedback loops and actions Net Zero Hunter could take to reach that future considering key drivers of change.

    The output of this workshop informs the basis of the Net Zero Hunter conceptual roadmap included later in this report.


    The stakeholders in NZH identified a vision for the Hunter in 2050 that included eleven strategic outcomes/opportunities for the region through the development and implementation of a net zero roadmap.


    Click the image below to download the report for workshop 2.


    2.4 Workshop 3 identified key actions and milestones

    In the third workshop the participants took these 11 future outcomes and worked backwards to map on a timeline (using digital sticky notes) the key steps and activities required to bring them about.

    Each participant worked on an individual timeline and then ‘rotated’ to the next one after a set period of time. This allowed them to see the timelines evolve, glean inspiration from other participants’ suggestions, and to contribute their own ideas.

    After participants had rotated through all timelines and had arrived back to their initial one, they organised the information on that timeline and then presented the ‘future story’ back to the group.

    Click the image below to download the outcomes report for workshop 3.

    2.5 Net Zero Hunter Roadmap

    Next the team analysed, synthesised and consolidated all the knowledge and insights from the three workshops into an overarching roadmap for the Hunter Region.

    This roadmap is detailed in section 4 of the report.

    2.6 Summary

    Net Zero Hunter (NZH) was formed in June 2021 as an alliance between Hunter region businesses, Local and State Government, and Education and Research Institutions under an initiative led by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment through the Sustainability Advantage Program. NZH is modelled on the recently formed Materials and Embodied Carbon Leaders Alliance (MECLA) convened by WWF.

    It was recognised that a number of organisations in the region had made commitments to achieve net zero and that a collaborative and strategic approach was required to unlock opportunities by promoting capabilities and attracting investment and key partnerships to the region.

    NZH seeks to lay the foundations for low emissions industries by building enabling infrastructure and increasing the capability of supply chains, fostering and supporting the emergence of net zero industries in the Hunter Region.

    To date, NZH has brought together some of the region's leading capability in sustainability, engineering, and research and development as well as critical high emitting stakeholders who will be key actors in the transition to a net zero economy.

    The following are some of the organisations that have participated in NZH workshops and contributed to the roadmap.


    3. Baseline of Regional Emissions

    The Hunter region is a carbon-intensive-job-exposed region with a number of large scope 1 emission sources including electricity generation, coal mining, and industrial processes.

    Scope 1 emissions from Hunter industries in 2017-18 were estimated to be 53.8 mega-tonnes CO2e including:

  • 36.8 MtCO2e from electricity generation
  • 7.6 MtCO2e from fugitive emissions (gas and coal)
  • 3.4 MtCO2e from stationary energy (direct combustion)
  • 2.6 MtCO2e  industrial processes and product use
  • 1.8 MtCO2e from road transport
  • 0.9 MtCO2e from agriculture
  • 0.6 MtCO2e from waste


  • Scope 2 emissions from the Hunter region in 2017-18 were estimated to be 13.3 mega-tonnes CO2e.

    Scope 3 emissions were not included in the baseline analysis due to the lack of available data. Scope 3 emissions should be considered in future work as they are anticipated to be significant. For example the Port of Newcastle exported a total of 158 million tonnes of coal in 2020 which using Australian National Greenhouse Account factors would be responsible for approximately 384 MtCO2e of scope 3 emissions (over 50 times the scope 1 emissions of the sector).

    "The support for action on climate [in the Hunter] is there, but what’s changed is the recognition that the related economic changes are an inevitable shift we need to tackle. If we play our cards right, we’ll be able to grow new employing sectors and decarbonise economic anchors like aluminium, at the same time as coal power and ultimately mining tail off"

    Warwick Jordan

    Hunter Jobs Alliance

    Decarbonisation is already underway.

    Transition planning is the key.

    Significant decarbonisation activities have already commenced within the Hunter region including the followi