Mike Cannon-Brookes, Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Atlassian

Atlassian co-founder and co-CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes wasn’t going to let BP’s Dr Dominic Emery off the hook as the energy giant’s chief of staff described his company’s plans to reduce emissions as “ambitious”.

Emery joined the panel about industry ambition on climate change at the Carbon Market Institute’s 7th Australasian Emissions Reduction Summit from the UK to talk about BP’s net zero by 2050 commitment, which it made in February this year.

The net zero target by 2050 covers both the operations on an absolute basis and “very importantly, and obviously a much larger number” is achieving net zero on its upstream oil and gas production, also on an absolute basis.

Cannon-Brookes didn’t waste the opportunity to call out the energy company’s level of ambition as Emery drilled down into the detail of its net zero plans.

“…I have some questions about Dominic’s use of the word ambitious,” Cannon-Brookes said.

“If the stats you just made are true, I don’t think BP are going net zero by 2050 and as we do need to do that, customers and everybody else. And you’re spending $500 million on sustainability –  sh** I spent more than that last year, and I’m not BP, so let’s talk about ambition in real terms.”

In response, Emery admitted that the half a billion dollars the company had been investing in emissions reduction and sustainability over the past few years was “completely insufficient”, but the plan was to raise this figure to $4-5 billion in the coming years.
“It’s quite a pivot that we announced earlier this year, I just want to clarify that.”

In providing the finer details, Emery said that by 2030, the fossil fuel behemoth plans to reduce its oil and gas production by 40 per cent. He also said that some fossil fuel projects in the pipeline would no longer be going ahead, and that it would stop exploring for new gas and oil resources in new countries.

It will also improve on its low carbon investments 10-fold by 2030, by about $5 billion, and bolster its renewable generation to roughly the equivalent to the renewable generation in the UK today.

Regarding newer technologies, the company is eyeing off hydrogen, EVs and low carbon aviation fuel “where there’s particularly high growth potential”.

But it doesn’t sound like it will be dabbling in just clean hydrogen – Emery also flagged blue hydrogen with carbon capture and storage as an option in the transition away from gas.

“We see the world wants and needs change, and we want to change, and we see a huge business opportunity in making that change,” he said.

“This is not an altruistic act, but it’s got business sense behind it.”

Atlassian’s net zero plan officially science based

Cannon-Brookes was also pleased to announce his company’s net zero plan had been approved by the by the Science Based Targets Initiative steering committee, which he says are “the strictest group looking at emissions”.

“We had our plan approved, I’m not that good at the corporate spin thing, but we’re getting on and doing it.”

He says the software company will be one of the smallest companies to get the SBTI’s tick of approval, which involves rigorous Scope 1, 2 and 3 reduction targets. 

Reducing Scope 1 and 2 will involve procuring 100 per cent renewable energy – which it is already doing in line with its commitment to the RE 100 – as well as owning and residing in gas-free, all electric buildings.

Interestingly, it’s still going ahead with its ultra-sustainable $1 billion-plus headquarters near Sydney’s Central Station (stay tuned for our upcoming ebook on the circular economy to learn more about this project) despite its new policy that allows employees to work from anywhere (“Team Anywhere”) being key to reducing its travel-related Scope 3 emissions.

The other component of Scope 3 is its suppliers. The company wants 65 per cent of the companies it procures from to have SBTs by 2025. 

ANZ also raising its head above the parapet

ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott was also on the panel where he addressed comments about the backlash his company’s climate commitments had received. In October, the bank unveiled “net zero emissions” test for loans that attracted the ire of Nationals MP David Littleproud.

“One of things I said when I first started, we want to do the right thing even if it comes at a cost, because doing the right thing when its free is easy but when it comes at a bit of a cost, reputational or money, you need to push that,” Elliot said at the event.

“When it comes to getting a bit of outrage, we’ve tried to tackle that head on and pick up the phone to and chat to those who’ve come from all walks of life.”

The concern was that the loan policy would hit farmers hard, but Elliot countered these concerns and said the loan test will focus on the “top 100 carbon emitters, and will have no impact on the bank’s farmgate lending practices”.

The bank has also committed to stop directly financing new coal-fired power plants or thermal coal mines by 2030.

One reply on “You call that ambition? Atlassian’s Mike Cannon-Brookes calls out BP on its lacklustre net zero plan”

  1. Seeing BP get carbon neutral would be like seeing McDonalds go organic vegan. Not sure why Cannon-Brookes feels the need to take a dig at them, though. Or why I need to suggest he stay focussed on his own behemoth. I guess the more companies see the advantage from business perspective in terms of stranded assets, liabilities and the like, the more they will move on these issues. Us consumers can really push a lot more to force their hands through divestment, investment, boycott, community building and innovation I figure. But essentially it is all unravelling in front of eyes, is it not? We seem to be spiralling out of control on a runaway train that is rapidly leading to untenable chaos and the collapse of civilization and ecosystems planet wide, right? But at the same time, I like to say “it’s never too late to give a sh*t”

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