Skip to main content

Regional leaders ready to embrace net zero – But information void still a major hurdle

26 March 2024

Regional leaders stand ready to benefit from the transition to net zero by 2050, but more information is needed to help communities navigate the way forward, according to the Regional Australia Institute (RAI).
Today, the RAI has released its latest research, Towards Net Zero – Transition Pathways for Regional Australia, the first of four reports in 2024 to help educate stakeholders on net zero issues specific to the regions.
A unique Framework Transition Principles checklist contained within the report will help regional communities and businesses map a pathway to transitioning to net zero emissions, by enabling them to determine what is needed locally to shift to a low-carbon economy.
RAI CEO Liz Ritchie said to date there had been a focus on the country’s major fossil fuel producing regions, with little information available about the pathways available for small and single industry communities.
“The net zero transition will deliver a fundamental change to the way regional economies operate. Our research has found there is a deep thirst for information specific to how a low-carbon future will play out in a regional context,” Ms Ritchie said.
“Get it wrong, and vulnerable communities will likely depopulate, encounter higher levels of unemployment, and face poor health outcomes.
“This new research delivers that knowledge, and the transition checklist provides an invaluable starting point for those wanting to prioritise their next steps into this new future.
“This is an incredibly complex issue and one that requires great focus at all levels. Our suite of net zero reports will help strengthen the conversations at a local level, helping leaders take a seat at the table to map out their way forward.”
The report looks at how Australia as a whole, and each state, is working towards net zero; how regional communities in other parts of the world have managed transitions; and offers analysis into the readiness of regional cities to play a key role in the transition.
This new body of work also contains insights from regional leaders about how their communities are preparing for net zero and provides four detailed case studies from regional Australia documenting successful business and community transitions to low-carbon operating models.
Ms Ritchie said the checklist within the report would enable regional communities and businesses to identify the most important aspects of a good regional transition.

“Regional Australia will play an integral and critical role in the nation’s passage towards net zero. The regions will be where key renewable energy projects and associated infrastructure are built and where tens of thousands of workers will be based to build and operate these power sources. This is the first research which looks in detail at how regional communities themselves will transition. We need to ramp up our preparations for this once-in-a-generation change now,” Ms Ritchie said.
“We know that when Australia’s regions thrive, so too does the nation, and it is vital we equip our regional communities with the tools and resources they need to make the transition away from fossil fuels.”
A second accompanying report, Towards Net Zero - Decarbonising Pivotal Industries in Regional Australia, looks at the challenges and opportunities in key regional sectors including transport, mining, agriculture, and engineering.
Ms Ritchie said the RAI’s third and fourth reports in the series would be released later in 2024.
“The next report in this important body of work brings the focus back to a very local level and will highlight the regional communities most vulnerable to the fossil fuel phase-out aspect of the transition as we head to 2050. It will shine a spotlight on where attention is needed, from both a policy and community level,” Ms Ritchie said.
Towards Net Zero: Transition Pathways in Regional Australia and Towards Net Zero: Decarbonising Pivotal Industries in Regional Australia were funded under the Intergovernmental Shared Inquiry Program by the Australian Government through the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts; the Victorian Government Department of Jobs, Skills, Industry and Regions; the South Australian Government Department of Primary Industries and Regions; the Western Australian Government Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development; and the Queensland Government Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water. 
Both reports will be launched at the RAI’s Regions Rising South Australia event in the Adelaide Hills, SA today. 
Media are invited to attend and are asked to register with the RAI to obtain a media pass.

For media enquiries contact:

Regional Australia Institute 
Melinda Hayter
Ph: 0498 373 300
E: [email protected]