So many meetings, outings and events in this past week. So much activity. Dust shaken off, wobbly knees firming up a bit. It’s back to work, a hint of the old smiles starting to form again. But something is not the same.
Daily, there are new insights and dissections of this country’s make up and psychology after the federal election shock miraculous win by the coalition, and the shock loss by the pro climate pro social equity peeps on the other side. The analysis is scalpel-like and forensic from the political journos, and sad and brave from the environmental and grass roots movements.
But at the gritty business end of sustainability there’s something new taking shape.
These are the proactive footsoldiers on the front line of change with the power of the markets to shift the agenda and change the course of history.
There’s a particular set in the eyes, the jaw, the talk. Strong cut through thinking. Talk of resistance movements starting up. Or already started. Some have gone back to watch episodes of The Good Fight, especially, “The one where Diane joins the resistance” on how to fight the horrid T-man in the US.
Others are simply cancelling any residual subscriptions to The Australian, or refusing to consume news altogether. For now.
They’ll come back but they want to seize control of the airways like Clive Palmer did (thanks Clive, good trick, how much was that? $60 mill to win an election? Cheap as chips! Surely we’ve got a few well-heeled titans on our side too… donations anyone? We’ll let you know the address soon).
There’s so much plotting and “alternative” strategies, many yet to be identified. All that’s certain is that they will come and they will be new and unknown.
A great walloping defeat will do that. The shock was so deep it will be met by equally unknown reactions and counteractions.
Right now it feels like the federal government is our Boeing 737 – autopilot locked, straight to the abyss.
The existential threat isn’t just felt by the climate and sustainability campaigners. But by everyone, if we’re honest. The carbon lobby sees an existential threat from renewables.
The people who are worried about jobs in the coal mines and want to put food on the table, same.
Coal has already lost its battle. The markets – inexorable, and more powerful than politics – will see to that.
Coal plants are closing or cancelling at a rate of knots. Solar, wind, wave, geothermal, hydrogen and probably energy sources no one has yet thought of are galloping into daily life.
Here’s a tantalising snippet from IEEFA.org, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.
GE Made a Massive Bet On the Future of Natural Gas and Thermal Coal, and Lost.
Co-authors Tim Buckley, Kathy Hipple and Tom Sanzillo say “investors lost billions when the (once) most valuable company in the world, General Electric Company (GE) and its largest shareholders – BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street and Fidelity – misjudged the pace of the global energy transition and subsequent collapse of the gas turbine and thermal power construction market.”
Tim Buckley says the loss for GE investors was a staggering US$193 billion in just three years to 2018, 74 per cent of its market capitalisation.
“BlackRock investors suffered an astronomical $16bn loss in the three years of 2016-2018 related to its GE holdings, representing in effect a huge stranded asset loss.”
The people who want to put food on the table are equally frightened for their existence but what’s putting them out of jobs is not just the demise of fossil fuels but the rise of technology and globalisation that keeps shifting capital around not for the benefit of people as a society but measures such as efficiencies and cost cutting.
In Australia we will try to bring you more coverage about the alternatives to coal and other extractive industries. Victoria is setting a good example by placing the headquarters for its new Solar Victoria headquarters at Morwell in the heart of coal country.
Planners elsewhere are constantly also trying to work out how to share the benefits of the economy with people who don’t live in the “right” postcodes. It was the theme by new reappointed planning minister for NSW Rob Stokes at a Property Council lunch last Friday.
Stokes spoke inspirationally about planning as a tool for deciding our future and about the importance of sustainability. Not sure how that went down in the crowd. More on that soon.
Bravery though is on the rise and we can tell that Stokes is a brave man. He’s challenged poor thinking in the past even from his own side of the fence.
It happens when we face big existential threats: they call forth reactions that are equally powerful.
In New Zealand it seems they breed fearlessness in the water and the PM there is tracking against weight of conventional economics to bring people’s welfare into centre stage as a metric worth striving for.
We can’t wait to see how that goes. But success or failure Jacinda Ardern will have laid the tracks for the next brave pioneers to scale those heights.
On Tuesday morning at Sydney Town Hall, we saw another brave group of people determined to change their world: 20 women in established and influential positions in the broader sustainability space meeting an equal number of younger women of talent and tenacity looking for a hand up as part of a women’s mentoring program managed by the City of Sydney’s C40 program.
It was such an inspiration. The younger women came with powerful projects they’d devised to fast track the carbon/sustainability transition. Talented, so talented and determined. Funny how we don’t see that passion and inspiration in the people fostering a coal agenda.
More on that to come, in particular, in the lead up to the conclusion of the program in time for the annual Women4Climate Conference in 2020, which Sydney will host next year in March.
We can’t wait.