What a great atmosphere there was on Wednesday late afternoon at the CBRE offices in Sydney as we brought together a live and online audience for the grand finale of our Festival of Electric Ideas masterclass series.

The topic, the fifth in the series, was Portfolio Transitions with presenters Steven Peters, chief sustainability officer from ISPT, Danny De Sousa vice president – ESG & Innovation Brookfield Properties and Natalie Slessor, executive managing director, property management CBRE. Moderator was Zoe Baker, sector lead, NABERS.

The crowd – on both sides of the digital divide – were primed with some tough and engaging questions. No namby pambying around on this issue. Here were two of the big property companies in Australia and next to them an advisory group that reaches a whole lot more.

You had to hand it to the panel – they did a deft job in fielding the curly questions. Which kept coming!  Some we were forced to save for the special report that will be out in a few weeks. Or even better entire new discussion topicS.

Massive thanks to the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water for supporting this whole series and for CBRE for not just supporting Masterclass #5 but hosting the hybrid version of it.

You have been amazing!

As a wrap to this Electric Ideas series of masterclasses, it’s worth noting the surprising appetite we’ve encountered with this new “deep dive” phase The Fifth Estate is entering.

It might indeed be a voracious appetite – but quite frankly it’s unsurprising.

It’s no longer about if we need to make dramatic changes, but how.

The world is different, strange, especially after the northern summer that so many of us have watched with growing concern.

And there’s palpable trepidation of what’s in store for us especially anyone near places such as Western Sydney have already notched up the unenviable record of being the “hottest” places on earth.

But that was then, the old world, before 2023. It feels different now. A new era.

Which is why we’ve named our new series of masterclasses, Property ESG for the New World. Details coming soon.

For now, let’s just share that the series will focus on the big challenges for this industry – especially the leaders who must feel how the weight of responsibility falls upon them.

These are the people and the companies that have the resources, the nous and the skin in the game to care and to act.

Thankfully this is an industry that is ready and willing to share its learnings.

Our masterclasses have proved that.

And those further down the value/food chain can learn and benefit from the insights, data and skills assembled at the top end.

Mind, the words of Adam Murchie from Forza Capital who participated in #3 Winners and the Finance come back to us: something about the nimbleness of the smaller funds and other asset owners who can be reactive and act much faster than the bigger outfits.

As the pressure ramps up let’s hope this sense of competition really ramps up.

Gas fires up

Meanwhile, the backlash continues.

The gas industry is the latest to rear up its dragon head and breathe fire and fury through all the channels it can muster to cast doubt on the wisdom that we should stop poisoning ourselves.

We see that Murdoch media trolls are well primed for the job, gunning for the brave individuals trying to change policy. Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore is well used to being pilloried in the Daily Telegraph pages and it’s happened again.

Moore was pinged with full page photo of her and the bits of the story we could read on social media (we refuse to pay for this rubbish) say she wants to stop people cooking with gas blah blah blah … but somehow is still caught up with gas herself.

Moore is not easily cowed. Here’s her reply.

Gotcha! Haha!

Since 2004 I have proudly led a city that has prioritised taking action on climate change.

We became carbon neutral, declared a climate emergency and set ambitious net zero targets.

And at each step, the Tele was there to criticise, poke fun, sneer.

Last week the City committed to investigating whether we could change planning controls to reduce gas use in new buildings.

So the Tele spent the better part of a week stalking my home and the homes of other councillors to execute their brilliant gotcha moment – never mind the proposed changes would only apply to new builds, and we all live in buildings that currently exist.

It’s a smart sustainability measure and it’s about future-proofing our city. Of course the Tele would oppose – stuck in the past.

They quoted me saying we must do everything we can to address global boiling, and responded: “As any proper foodie will know, however, boiling is much easier dealt with on a nice gas range.”

It’s all very clever from a news organisation that has spent considerable time and resources fostering climate scepticism and inaction, protecting our country’s reliance on fossil fuels.

My apartment building uses gas hot water heating. You got me. I guess there’s no point taking any action on climate change.

What drivel.

When I see pieces like this, I not only feel compelled to correct the record, I feel compelled to call out the underlying issue. It’s what climate scientist Michael Mann refers to as “deflection”.

While those against action on climate change used to flatly deny climate science, their tactics have matured. Now they don’t deny; they deflect.

They say they want to address climate change, but only if the onus is put on the individual, not the structures that we so desperately need changed. That climate change is important, but not as important as the protection of big business profits and the fossil fuel industry.

They accuse us of hypocrisy – that if we were truly concerned about climate change, we would not be frivolously seeking structural change, not when there’s an appliance to change at home.

These tactics seek to distract us from the reality that our world is burning. Vested interests are failing us while saying: “We’re not the problem; look at the hypocrites over there!”


It’s the same tactic former Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor used when he supplied false data to the Telegraph about how often City staff fly in order to discredit our climate action.

We must not allow them to deflect from the reality that without urgent action on climate change, we are condemning our planet.

We will continue to take the climate crisis seriously, even if that means keeping the Tele in print.

So true Clover.

Let’s not get sucked into the notion that our individual action is responsible for climate change. there is state capture under way and consumer capture. We have vast corporations –  and just a few of them – that control a huge part of our lives. It’s systemic. We are part of a complex system that support and controls much of our work, our lives and our play.

When you go to the supermarket most people have the choice of Coles and Woolies. Maybe throw Aldi and a few independents into the mix as well.

Giant corporations govern the majority of jobs on offer, the kinds of houses we are offered to live in, the kinds of cars we drive and where we live. The higher your income the bigger the choices.

But there is hope. Grass roots agitation lives.

Do yourself a favour and read the fantastic column we published today (Thursday) by Tim Forcey. We should have called it The Force Strikes Back in homage to the incredible job he’s done at the Facebook page My Efficient Electric Home to get strike the magic 100,000 number of people who’ve joined his page. Through group chats and (cyber hugs!) they’ve encouraged and spurred each other to step off the gas.

We particularly love this imperative that guides us whenever there is confusion about alternative energy creation or recycling – “Burn Nothing!”

Pure and Simple.

Forcey reckons we’ve probably reached a tipping point in gas. And even better he’s listed a ream of great resources for helping people with the transition.

Gas, you’re done!


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