On things to think about over Christmas and our fab London salon on green bonds and property

For Christmas we’ll put out a mini newsletter next Tuesday unless one of the Govs or other decides to drop some yuletide bombshells – and let’s face it that is not out of the realm of possibilities. Christmas Eve or 5.30pm on a Friday night, are especially popular announcement times with the spin doctors.

Our London Salon book on green bonds and property

For our almost-yuletide present to you, dear readers, we offer you the fruits of our foray into the financial heart of the modern world, London, and our salon on what the bankers and property world think or don’t think about climate bonds and their potential to dramatically lower greenhouse gas emissions and help clean up our poisoned world.

It’s not just the thought leadership outcomes of the dinner you will see in the book, but several articles around the issue including a great contribution from Ché Wall, a co-founder of the Green Building Council in Australia and founding chair of the World Green Building, who has led the work on developing green and climate standards for buildings.

Here’s some more Christmas cheer to ponder.

If you’re one of the grinches who don’t think the outcomes of the Paris talks were quite good enough, you’re in the minority. As we know when it comes to human, political and economic action, sentiment is everything and right now the sentiment –  and the money – is on energy efficiency, or EE,  as the fastest, cheapest and easiest way to reduce emissions.

It’s certainly not on the emissions reduction fund (or the big dumb ERF, as we prefer to call it).

Even the Property Council, which previously supported this valiant effort by environment minister Greg Hunt to curry favour with his then boss Tony Abbott while they were all still down the rabbit hole, has lost faith.

“The emissions reduction fund – simply doesn’t work for property,” chief executive Ken Morrison told his members this week.

COP21, he says, will put pressure on governments in Australia to do more on climate change.


The private sector in the sustainability and EE space is certainly allowing itself to breathe a little more freely these days citing the change in PM, Paris, and plain force of logic, for a repositioning to more positive sentiment.

But way of evidence see our article on recent moves in this space: ERM Power acquiring Greensense; ENGIE, previously GDF Suez, acquiring DESA Australia and in the process taking its staff numbers from nine to just under 1000 in less than three months; and finally the listing of Building IQ on the ASX.

What does all this mean? A number of things according to the observers: partly a response to the changing political signals from Canberra and Paris, and partly the regular machinations of an industry maturing, with the big corporates nurturing strategic expansion ambitions and swallowing the minnows who have the specialised skills to deliver targeted value.

Bad luck of course that climate change is already snapping at our heels. Certainly the people of Kurnell who on Wednesday faced a tornado, of all things, might be thinking that the worst winds in recorded history were not so much another climate co-incidence but the start of something they should get used to.

More responses are coming in post COP

Chief executive officer of Australian Ethical, Phil Vernon, said the key take home messages from COP21 included that there was a global agreement on reducing emissions and that weak current pledges provide a space for governments to ramp up action.

With a legally binding agreement, a higher ambition, increased transparency and five yearly reviews, there are fewer places to hide and perhaps (dare we dream it) it provides a framework and a catalyst for a more bipartisan commitment to a stable, long term set of policies,” he said.

One of his favourite quotes from the conference came from the International Energy Agency: “while variability of renewable energy is a challenge… variability of policies poses a far greater risk.”

And the comment that resonates with much thinking right now, is that “ultimately it is capital that provides the solution”.

Again, see our green bonds and property book.

Among people getting excited about the shifting sentiment are those in green infrastructure, eyeing off all the potential impact they can make through better designed and delivered major projects.

In readiness, the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia this week said it has awarded a contract to life cycle assessment consultancy start2see to update and refresh the IS Materials Calculator,  ISCA technical director Rick Walters said in a note to stakeholders this week.

L to R: Lucy Turnbull, Edmund Capon and Jane Jose
L to R: Lucy Turnbull, Edmund Capon and Jane Jose

Lucy the new Czarina of Sydney

It was celebrity central last Friday for the launch by Lucy Turnbull of Jane Jose’s book, Places Women Make.

Anne Summers, Penny Seidler and Louise Cox were just a few of the well known people who turned up at architecture HQ, Tusculum in Potts Point in Sydney for the event.

Edmund Capon, former director of the NSW Art Gallery, who introduced Turnbull, was flawless in his eloquence and Medici-flavoured choice of words, when he named Turnbull the new Czarina of Sydney following her recent appointment as chair of the Greater Sydney Commission. Medici-like indeed, with husband Turnbull running the entire country from Canberra, and Lucy running the glittering principality.

How the potential for allegations of favouritism will play out will be one of the more interesting reality shows to watch in 2016. Especially as Malcolm fights off the rearguard anti-climate agenda vowed by people such as Dennis Jensen, who said this week he did a pretty good job of getting rid of  Malcolm in the Liberal leadership last time (in 2009) over climate issues.

On Jose’s book we know it will be no doubt be a good read and well-informed, (it’s on our Christmas reading list). Jose has spent years on the cities’ agenda, as a former deputy mayor of Adelaide,  a city strategist for City of Sydney and associate director for Elton Consulting.

See articles that Jose has contributed to Spinifex here

The book is published by www.wakefieldpress.com.au and retails for $29.95.