Australia’s Potential

The Australia’s Potential stream at MEFL’s Spark! 2018 Conference discussed how Australia could best harness the opportunities that come with the energy transition and reposition itself as a world leader in the climate transition.

The stream featured the expertise of:

  • Toby Kent, Chair of Future Business Council
  • Michael Lord, Head of Research at Beyond Zero Emissions
  • Kelly O’Shanassy, CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation
  • Facilitator Victoria McKenzie-McHarg, Manager of Strategy and Planning at Bank Australia

Toby Kent began by highlighting that there was a key opportunity for Australia to use innovation and technology to position itself as world leader in the new zero carbon economy. He argued that government, business and individuals all had a role to play in helping Australia make this transition.

In particular, Governments need to actively promote renewable energy and technology and position Australia as a clean and green place to do business in. Businesses also needed to improve in the commercialisation of technologies; despite Australia having some of the world’s best research scientists, the conversion rate of research into industry is low. Finally, Toby highlighted the importance of our individual choices in making change. Through voting responsibly, being active political citizens, choosing banks and superannuation funds that divest from fossil fuels and by choosing ethical products, we can all make a difference.

Kelly O’Shanassy, CEO of ACF, also highlighted the huge potential that Australia has to be a world leader in renewable energy. Due to the wealth of renewable energy resources that Australia has, she emphasised that Australia has the potential to create a whole new industry by turning excess renewable energy into liquid hydrogen and exporting this to other countries that do not have such abundance of renewable resources.

In order to get us to this point, she emphasised the importance of having a clear objective of 100% clean energy and a healthy democracy to ensure competition between the major parties to create climate policy. She also said that any transition needs to be very carefully planned to support the families of the workers in the fossil fuel industry and ensure a just transition.

Michael Lord, Head of Research at Beyond Zero Emissions echoed the previous speakers’ points about the huge potential for Australia to position itself as a world leader in renewable energy. In particular, he highlighted that there was an enormous opportunity for Australia’s manufacturing sector to reduce its carbon emissions by using renewable electricity to generate heat for industrial processes such as cement manufacture. Not only can this allow industry to make products in a more efficient way and save them money in the process, but it can also help generate a new industry for Australia.

Thank you to our speakers for sharing their expertise. For more information on the other streams at Spark! please visit MEFL’s Spark! 2018 page.