On 30 September 2022 National Cabinet agreed to establish the Energy and Climate Change Ministerial Council (ECMC) within the streamlined model of Australia’s federal relations architecture. This council replaces the former Energy National Cabinet Reform Committee, which was preceded by the COAG Energy Council.
The ECMC is a forum for the Commonwealth, Australian states and territories, and New Zealand to work together on priority issues of national significance and key reforms in the energy and climate change sectors. ECMC is chaired by the Minister for Climate Change and Energy, the Hon Chris Bowen MP.
ECMC works closely with Energy Consumers Australia, and has oversight of the following energy market institutions responsible for the operation of national energy markets:
- the Energy Security Board (ESB)—whole of system oversight through transition
- the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC)—the rule maker and market development adviser
- the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO)—the system operator
- the Australian Energy Regulator (AER)—the economic regulator and rule enforcer.
At its inaugural meeting on 24 February 2023, the ECMC agreed to five strategic priorities as well as a work program, underpinned by 15 working groups. These priorities work program and terms of reference will be reviewed annually.
The agreed priorities are:
- Transforming Australia’s energy system to align with net zero while providing more affordable, secure, and reliable energy to Australians, (including improving regulatory certainty and efficiency for, and accelerating delivery of, dispatchable renewable energy, storage and nationally significant transmission projects)
- Efficiently and effectively contributing to the achievement of all Australian emissions reduction targets
- Investing in Australia’s adaptation and resilience to climate change
- Empowering and comprehensively engaging with Australia’s regions and remote communities, including First Nations, on the pathway to decarbonisation and Australia becoming a renewable energy superpower
- Delivering a coordinated and strategic approach to achieving improvements in energy productivity across the economy.
These priorities will be underpinned by the following working groups:
- Adaptation Working Group
- Consumer Energy Resources Working Group
- Decarbonisation Working Group
- Energy Efficiency Working Group
- Energy Security and Resilience Working Group
- Energy Transformation Enablers Working Group
- First Nations Engagement Working Group
- Gas Working Group
- Governance Working Group
- Hydrogen Working Group
- National Energy Emergency Management Working Group
- Offshore Renewables Working Group
- System Planning Working Group
- Transmission Working Group
ECMC will meet no less than four times a year. Two of the meetings will focus on energy items only, meeting as the Energy Ministers Sub-Group meeting (EMSG). The other two meetings will combine both Energy and Climate Change Ministers (ECMC) and cover a broader agenda including energy, climate change and adaptation issues. Additional meetings may be convened as required. Work is also progressed out of session as necessary.