“We won’t allow the world to keep cooking.”
These are the words uttered by Andrew Forrest as he seeks to wrest the crown of corporate climate champion from Atlassian’s Mike Cannon-Brookes.
But Forrest who has announced a massive $1 billion commitment to hydrogen in Queensland of all places (clever man) and around coal country at Gladstone (even more clever) isn’t the only heavyweight to shift gears to green after his road to Damascus conversion.
In fact, that’s a road that’s looking increasingly crowded. Not only are there plenty of people who’ve been on it for years but a new crowd is starting to jostle its way to the front where its members hope to catch some of the refracted glow from the bolts of lightning there, and where they notice the signposts actually say Glasgow.
Among them are the worthy members of the Business Council of Australia (BCA), spruiking a plan to fast track emissions reductions by 2030, which it says will deliver Australia an additional $890 billion and 195,000 jobs over the next 50 years.
(With nary a blush from the BCA’s 2019 pronouncement when it told Australians that the Labor Party’s climate ambitions for the last federal election were “economy-wrecking.”)
There’s also is a phalanx of other corporate big-wigs such as Macquarie Group boss Shemara Wikramanayake who seems intent on going to Glasgow personally to underscore her company’s $60 billion investment in renewables, even though there’s no discernible intent to divest from the group’s heavy fossil fuel interests. (Left-hand right-hand)
And there is even the UK Queen who, at 95 says she will attend an event at the Glasgow summit alongside members of her family including two heirs to the throne.
Surely that will put a cracker under our royal loyal PM Scott Morrison as he inches ever closer to a net zero commitment, though we don’t know if he’ll hit the road himself. Perhaps he’ll quietly hitch a ride with Nationals Leader Barnaby Joyce who’s using his best poker face to demand compensation for the farmers to agree to a net zero target even though we all know he really means the money’s for the coal miners.
UPDATE: 13 OCTOBER 2021: ON Wednesday morning we read that Prince Charles, told that our PM Scott Morrison Morrison is not sure if he will attend Glasgow, turns to the interviewer in shock.
But amidst it all, energy minister Angus Taylor still says no. And urges no action.
“There’s lots who want to use the stick – you’ve got to ask why they are motivated by that. [Um because the carrots take forever to come up and we’ve run out of time?] We are much more interested in using carrots,” he told the forum. [Of course, this way everything can remain looking very much normal: you can go out and check on the carrots every morning and nothing much seems to have happened. Eventually of course the carrots grow but by then Taylor will presumably be happily ensconced in a nice juicy post parliamentary job that might even be green.]
Why we need stick is why we need government and laws. For the people who are narcissists and don’t care about the rest of us and would happily sell us down the rabbit hole for their next dollar – that’s why Mr Taylor.
But regardless of carrot stick or what we do need is people to work together.
The BCA gets that and is calling for “enhanced policy coordination in order to stir vital private investment, rather than deter it”.
Among supporters for the BCA’s change of heart also heard at the summit was Citi global co-head of sustainability Keith Tuffley who pointed to a “massive shift” in investor attitudes to decarbonisation over the past two year.
“It’s not just going to be hydrogen. We know there’s no silver bullet. There’s going to be dozens of silver bullets that we need,” he said, mentioning other technologies such as direct air capture, which will be a “huge industry in the next 20 years”, as well as plant-based protein.
In 2015 he said “even non-governmental organisations “were rolling their eyes” at the whole concept of net zero by 2050 “thinking that’s a ridiculous ambition”.
Climate and investment advisory firm Pollination’s Zoe Whitton said, “These days we speak to everyone in almost every institution. Not just all of the funds, but most of the people in all of the funds.
And Trevor St Baker of St Baker Energy Innovation Fund said there would soon be a $37,000 electric vehicle “as good as a Mazda.”
Bring on the EVolution!