The Climate Investor Forum Part 2

Welcome back to this recap of Climate Zeitgeist‘s Climate Investor Forum (CIF), we left part 1 of the recap at the end of the investor plenary, and at this point Alan Schwartz AO had the mic and was taking the room through his learning of the past year, having had Monique Andrew speak to over 100 investors in relation to the work the Trawalla Group were doing.

Engineering a Capital Stack

At the prior CIF, Alan outlined his family offices commitment to climate investment on purely commercial terms due to the opportunities they saw, as well as the philanthropic commitment to establish the Transition Accelerator, with a focus on removing obstacles towards further commercial investment.

The hypothesis was the transition accelerator would deal with policy and efficacy for businesses that needed different policies from government, though the feedback that came through were that a bigger thing needed is more innovation around government structures, effectively a ‘capital stack’ of contributing partners.

Likening it to the idea of warehouse trusts which have different capital pools getting different returns, whilst still all seeking commercial outcomes, the difference here is the capital has different objectives. Essentially, mixing government with philanthropic capital, so loans and grants, with various types of debt capital.

The response from the panel was that blended capital aka ‘the capital stack’ as Alan put it was yet to take hold in Australia, though definitely something people were aware of and that folks like Ben Krasnostein and Kilara Capital were working on, as well as it being effective across may asset classes and predominantly land as the key, according to Ben.

Nature Based Solutions

Skye Glenday began this segment responding to a point raised earlier, that of ‘who pays?’ with the stark and honest truth that ‘we are all already paying’ and related it to Kobad Bhavnagri‘s earlier mention that we’re facing 2.7 trillion in losses for things like drought resilience and insurance payouts, mentioned earlier, so how do we bring that capital forwards and pay earlier in solutions that we are identifying today.

This frame poses the setting in itself for the Climate Investor Forum, and this session in particular featured four company pitches.

Skye dove into Australia’s agricultural emissions being 20% of our total, and that being an enormous challenge and opportunity for us, as well as nature being the only known technology that can draw down carbon at scale.

Additionally, it’s really critical that we decarbonise the sector in similar ways we approaching other sectors – we have a national target of reducing emissions by 43% to 2030, simultaneously we have a goal of restoring 30% of ecosystems around the country, and need to scale up food production by an estimated 60% to feed the worlds populations.

Thus the nexus of nature-based solutions; How do we decarbonise, repair the planet and feed the planet in a sustainable way?

To that end, Climate Friendly is the organisation Skye is the Co-CEO for, and their mission is to organise partnerships with deliver 150 million tonnes of abatement, while repairing nature and advancing reconciliation by 2025. So far they’ve got over 160 projects that cover around 10 million hectares of land, and they’ve made 30 million tonnes of abatement.

“Today in Australia, about 2% of farmers are involved in carbon farming, whereas we’ve got about 77,000 agricultural properties around the country, as well as conservation and indigenous estate that can get involved in this space.”

Developing a Natural Capital Standard

Lorraine Gordon, Principal of Natural Capital at Climate Friendly, described this as “probably one of the most exciting things that has ever happened for farmers and land managers in Australia”, with Natural Capital being;

“.. the air that we breathe. It is the soil in which we toil and grow things. The minerals, the geology in the soil, it is the grasses, shrubs, plants, trees, the fresh water, the salt water, the underground water. These are our natural assets. The very things that sustain the human race.”

And why a specific standard for Australia?

“Because we are different. We don’t need to do things the European way. Remember, we have made that mistake once before. We may need to put a fence line in to increase rotational grazing. We may need to clear vegetation to put in a fence line. We may need to put contours into the land and swales so we can slow the water flow down and capture every drop of rainfall that comes out of the sky. We may need to do mosaic

burning so that we don’t end up one big bush fire in Australia. “

And what does it look like?

“.. We have green loans which are about eligible activities – a progressive, first and step for farmers to get in at that level.

Then sustainably linked loans, which involves a bit more KPIs, benchmarks, et cetera. Then assessments. So there’s additional information that can be captured, and then natural capital reports.

These answer where are we at? Do we need to improve? Do we need to maintain? How does this actually look? And it’s all underpinned by land management strategy.

This needs to be a workable strategy for land managers and farmers to actually implement and it needs to make sense for their bio-region. So that’s the hard work that has been going on behind the scenes, we’re piloting it by several institutions and by 2025 this will be real – this will be out there for everyone to access, and it will benefit everybody up and down the value chain.

Financial institutions can reduce their risk and meet their sustainability targets, the list for farmers is a mile long, they can access green and sustainability loans, meaning cheaper finance, that insurance premiums will drop because they’re less of a risk, and banks and insurance companies will want to back aligned formers and land managers, because they know they’ve got climate mitigation covered and they’re addressing some of the risks – but it also opens up all sorts of markets along the value chain for farmers;

Consumers are demanding to know how food and fibre is produced, and if its keeping our environment intact, and conservationists won’t have to wave a big stick, there’s a huge carrot for everybody to get involved – and this is a very collaborative piece of work, we do want you to reach out and work with us on this.


Over the past few years I’ve been hesitant to lean in when I hear the words ‘digital twin’, as more often than not they’ve been solutions looking for a problem, though Stu Adam did a cracking job of this presentation, and put up a slide with a QR code that took us all to this live demonstration, that we could each manipulate ourselves on the way through.

Click here to give it go – Agronomeye stories – it’s a collaboration between Agronomeye, CSIRO and Microsoft.

Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR)

Daniel Misson, Carbon Programming and Partnerships at World Vision Australia then presented with Melanie Kaebernick and NatureCo, where they shared the time, speaking to the development and implementation of high integrity nature-based carbon projects with local people, and this update:

The goal is to enhance global action on climate change and biodiversity loss, primarily by co-designing programs with native groups, currently spread across 40 projects in the Asia Pacific, Africa and Latin America.

This partnership has been in place since November 2022, and to be it represents a fascinating and powerful lever I’m starting to see take place, where carbon and nature orientated consultancies, either that have been founded as agents of change, or are more traditional project consultancies shifting into the space, that are pairing up with established NGOs who have decades of reach into developing nations and often bio-stricken environments.

Quoting this announcement from March 12, 2024

“..  the partnership recognizes the impact and scalability of farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR): a simple, low-cost practice which can increase climate change resilience, restore ecosystem services, and improve livelihoods in the world’s most vulnerable communities.

NatureCo and World Vision have already conducted extensive capacity building across Africa and the Asia Pacific that has seen more than 200 local field-based staff trained to identify and develop nature-based carbon projects within their local landscapes.

Following an extensive co-design process, NatureCo and World Vision have five nature-based carbon projects across the Africa and the Asia Pacific regions that respond to the vision, needs, and context of local people, and incorporate benefit sharing arrangements to ensure financial outcomes are returned to communities.

The fastest and most sustainable way to develop nature-based carbon projects at the scale needed to solve the world’s climate and biodiversity crisis is to work in partnerships.”

If there’s one thing that undermines great ideas being implemented, it’s a lack of local knowledge and contacts, and this is something NGOs are deeply embedded in – so a big yes to more of these!

Seeing the day biodiversity became mainstream

Dr Debbie Saunders then took us into Wildlife Drones and NatureHelm, from her background of over 20 years working with protecting threatened species, and needing an answer to a problem she had herself, which then took her into an entrepreneurial journey to provide this to customers around the world;

NatureHelm is a corporate biodiversity data platform that companies can use to manage risk at their sites around the world, and focus on specific species.

Wildlife Drones then provides a radio-telemetry system to assist tracking both threatened and invasive species.

” As a conservation ecologist, I never thought I live to see the day biodiversity is mainstream. We have major corporations talking about it, we have farmers talking about it, right across the spectrum, it’s a really exciting time! “

I’d say it’s almost the norm to have people collecting data who know why they are doing it, though it definitely helps to have a team of ecologists behind the IT platform that manages biodiversity risk, as I’m often finding IT teams building systems that might not be ‘ideal’ in terms of their fit with the intended outcome.

Dr Saunders referenced the US Department of Agriculture using their technology in Washington state to get ahead of an invasive species threatening pollinators, and how most technology is inadequate to track animal moves, as they are too small to track via satellite, so require radio tags, which are then mapped via the Wildlife Drones.

As a short aside, when the presentation began, I thought I was looking at my old 3DR Solo Drone, which I bought for a considerable sum in 2015, as it was one of the first drones to have a semi-autonomous control system for cinema-style aerial filming, and I was flipping up against 3DR or DJI.

If you know anything about drone technology or the speed and quality that DJI iterate at, you’ll know how that ended!

Forbes did this article on it if you want to learn more about burning through $100M in VC, and I’ve got a DJI Mini 3 Pro next to me that’s sensational kit.

Long story short, I’m very wary of anything that flies and claims uniqueness when looking at the lineup of DJI technology, though I don’t mean to sidetrack too far, NatureHelm and Wildlife Drones are doing great work and worth checking out.

As head into the next segment, I thought to share that I’ve worked with farmers, adjacent industry and investors in water and land for over a decade, in every state, as well as many supporting government bodies and industry groups.

Filming crop harvests and sitting around kitchen tables with multi-generation family owners who live with the seasons, keeping the flow through to our stores, tables and export markets has always been inspiring, and the highs and lows of it are certainly something most city-bound folk struggle to get to grips with!

If you haven’t got out into the Australian bush recently, I’ll draw upon the father of the US National Parks system John Muir for a quote (and do share any you yourself find inspiring in the comments);

“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”

Burping, Farting and innovating natural proteins

Kristin Vaughan of Virescent Ventures led us into the Food and Agriculture panel, which packed in quality innovation that can scale, with revolutionary thinking for a new world.

A few figures for context from Kristin;

“.. Ag and forestry generate about $90 billion in production value. More than 70% of that is exported, generating around 75 billion in export value, and around 90% of what we eat is produced locally.

More than 50% of our land is used for agriculture and almost three quarters of our water, so it’s a really important sector here in Australia, and also a really meaningful contributor to emissions here in Australia, about 17%, and a really significant portion of that comes from ruminants.

Australian producers have historically and continuously focused on efficiency in a really difficult climate to grow in. And we’ve seen world leading innovations around water efficiency, crop productivity, and even around emissions intensity – for example there’s been a 40% reduction in the last 30 years in emissions per litre of milk produced.

Today we have four pitches ranging from a really holistic view of reducing emissions in the dairy context to specific technology targeting methane in ruminants to alternative sources of dairy proteins altogether, and then finishing up with the tools to understand and measure emissions..”

Ellinbank SmartFarm – the journey to Net Zero

Joe Jacobs, Research Director of Animal Production Sciences at Ellinbank is focused on being the world’s first carbon neutral dairy farm.

His attempt to take an hour and a half presentation usually delivered on farm into 10 minutes went reasonably well, and he and the team would love to have you visit.

As both a working commercial dairy farm and a leading research and innovation facility, Joe spoke to the challenges of their energy use patterns being the early morning and afternoon, not particularly when the sun is shining, their intense work on methane mitigation, the installation of an anaerobic digester, converting dairy waste into hydrogen and all manner of technology.

He called it ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ –

“.. technology bought off the shelf that works from day one. Fantastic. Technology that we buy or we test that doesn’t quite work, but we have to do a bit of work with it to get it working. That’s the bad. And then we’ve got a few examples of downright ugly, they are not going to work, they’re not fit for purpose.


We set ourselves a goal in 2019 to try and be the first grazing based dairy farm that could achieve net zero, and if that wasn’t a challenge enough, we added to that, can we do it profitably? Milking cows producing 10,000 litres a year and a hundred thousand litres in their life. And for those that aren’t across the dairy industry, the national average is about 6,200 litres per cow per year.

So we look at what we grow, the grazing base, the animals themselves and how we better them at an individual and herd level, how we monitor and how we manage carbon.

Mitigation, sequestration, and how we look after our animals better from calf to heifer and into the system – overall farming resilience.

The other thing I’d point out, over 60% of our greenhouse gas emissions is enteric. This is about fermentation of the feed source the animal eats, and as a by-product produces methane. That is a huge challenge for ruminants.

Dairy for us, just over 60%, then you get into the red meat system and that’s encroaching on 80 or 90% of their emissions. And methane is a great challenge, you can’t smell it, you can’t see it, so you need technologies to measure it”

Joe went on to discuss the emergence of novel additives for feed to reduce methane, and even seeking to identify low methane animals through phenotyping, thus enabling the logging of a low methane breeding value, something that has been applied to all 450 cows at Ellinbank.

If you’d like to see a recent about it here’s one;

The opportunity of a billion cows

David Messina, Co-Founder & CEO at Rumin8;

“.. we’ve taken a pharmaceutical approach to produce a super high quality product that we can manufacture cheaply and deliver to the market in a range of different formats. We’re using the basic science and the discoveries from asparagopsis seaweed and taking it to the next level, using a pharmaceutical approach to manufacture, stabilise, and then deliver those products.

We deliver as a solid, we deliver as an oil which can be mixed, very excitingly first in the world with a water soluble product that can go into drinking troughs and start to get us access to those grazing and rangeland environments that are hard to reach, and developing a slow release capsule that will last for up to six months.

We’re already seeing results in the 35 to 45% reduction range in those extensive grazing environments.”

David shared about the complexity of our landscapes, such as the high rain fall of Tasmania, range land in the North, and then how this development bandwidth meant they had products for the broader world, from the intensive dairy production systems in New Zealand to extensive grazing in Brazil.

“.. when you’re seeing an animal once or twice or continuously during the day, finding a solution for those is much easier than those extensive environments, we’ve been working on both simultaneously and making some excellent progress.


One of the really exciting things that we’ve been able to do in the last couple of years is starting to work with other startups. For example, startups that can help us deliver our water product into drinking water troughs in remote Australia and help us with some of the solutions around stability and delivery.

And by bundling and working with other startups, it’s been a real pleasure because we can help and work with each other really well.

We are looking at obviously building relationships with industry and government, trying to remove obstacles. They exist everywhere.

Legislation tends to be well behind leading technology and ag solutions and climate solutions and that’s frustrating, but we need to engage and assume that that position to try and make hope for other solutions like ours that are coming behind us.

And I think something that we all missed that someone mentioned earlier on today, we do do some great stuff here in Australia and it’s broadly recognised and it finally gets seen overseas, but not a lot of it gets seen.

So we really need to work together and elevate that position so that we can be proud to be talking about the stuff we’re doing here because it’s hard to find solutions in Australia and when we get ’em, they’re really applicable on a global basis.”

Heresy? Or Revolutionary Thinking

My favourite session of the day came from Jan Pacas and All G Foods – in the middle of a group of livestock managers and investors, with regulators and community groups chasing them to eliminate the emissions from their products existence, he asked quite simply “what is a better system for the 21st century?”

And I quote Jan;

“.. From the very beginning, we do see ourselves as a complementary technology working with the dairy industry rather than as a competing technology.

So a few stats, what’s dairy? 6 billion people use it almost every day. We think about it as milk.

Milk is only the source and it ends up being hundred of consumable and products on the supermarket shelf from cheeses, chocolates, pizza, but also new nutraceuticals and infant formula. And it is a critical input.

It’s a trillion dollar global industry that has been doubling approximately every 25 or 30 years. And if look at that it’s been doubling every 25 and 30 years, we’ve got away that for the last hundred years because there was enough land, there was enough of the planet to give that. But if we project that over the next hundred years we should be doubling three times more.

There’s probably limits into how we can do that.

And then you see a picture here, a lot of industries have changed.

Let’s think of communication and transport. They’ve all undergone transformational changes as an industry. But yet if we look at how we do dairy today, it is the analogy of the faster and more efficient horse. And so we talk about methane reduction, and fantastic to hear from my colleagues that this is being tackled. But there’s more problems, right?

There’s dependence on weather, you have droughts, you have floods, labour and welfare concerns, there’s price, stability or instability. And there’s also food security, whilst we’re privileged in Australia and New Zealand where we have enough of that, like in the Middle East you hundred percent depend on import from other markets of the world.

What are we building? I like to call it something that is it for the 21st century.

What is milk? I start with this fundamental question because that’s the source.

We get milk and then process it and split it into it’s valuable pieces, what I say is the golden milk, these are those major seven proteins, casein and whey proteins. The rest is water and lactose, and 80% of people are lactose intolerance. So if we can recreate bio identically, those seven or the majority of those proteins, we can recreate identical dairy. And this is what we’re in the business of.

Conventional methods grow a cow which takes you two or three years until the cow can lactate.

What we do instead is use cutting edge synthetic biology, which is used in pharmaceuticals today to express vaccines or to grow very targeted molecules.

And we take the DNA code of a dairy protein, insert it into a microbe, genetically engineer it, train it to become a mini cell factory and then we feed it water and sugar and then we take that engineered microbe and put it in a large scale fermentation tank and then it becomes the very familiar beer brewing.

But instead of beer it is milk brewing or any protein of interest brewing.

Sounds easy. If it was easy, we all be drinking that, so there’s a lot more science behind this and we’ve spent the last three years and around $30 million to get to this point.

We’ve built a cutting edge bio-foundry, which is a fully automated DNA sequencing machine, where we can at lightning speed, assess what are the highest corrective molecules. We then put those into our pilot plant, and then feed it water and sugar and three days later we harvest bio-identical milk proteins.

Imagine how will that get done at scale, when they are a lot, lot bigger and there’s a lot of them.

Imagine next to every city, next to Melbourne, next to Sydney, they’ll be a plant, and it works non-stop independently of any externalities”

Jan spoke to the many patents they have, the work they have done so far and the path to recreating a trillion dollar dairy industry, somewhat following the Tesla method of a high-end low volume product, before achieving mass market adoption with a low value car.

In the case of All G, a high-end niche protein for infant formula and nutraceuticals, Lactoferrin, and then mass scale dairy which unlocks a lot of opportunities for partners, even through to bio-identical breast milk, which has superior versions of proteins.

Importantly when it comes to emissions, and life cycle analysis, this approach to milk production delivers a 90% carbon reduction footprint, uses ten times less water, half of the land, potentially less in the future.

And the question they get a lot “is it healthy for you?” – absolutely yes – all the goodness of milk, without the drawbacks, and retaining the benefits that plant-based product are missing (high protein)

Can you tell I’m a fan? Make sure to watch All G Foods, as what you’ve read here feels like it only touches the surface, for the kind of change and new market opportunities that could occur if this makes it to scale.

The quickest, funniest way to sell something

Watch this for 59 seconds. A gold star effort. Agree?

As they say themselves on on the website;

“.. Producing accurate climate data should be an asset, not a burden. That’s why producing an emissions report through the Ruminati platform allows farmers to use records they already have on hand, takes less than 30 minutes, and provides tailored solutions on how to reduce emissions..”

Bobby Miller, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Ruminati took us through the platform, the expertise of the team, and how it’s all been developed in response to discovering gaps in the market, and providing effective tools for farmers.

Fundamentally, how supply chains buying from farmers, need data to make decisions, and the challenge of getting those supply chains that data – thus, Ruminati.

Blended Finance – the intersection of public and private investment models

A briefer note on the session led by Charlotte Connell, as the organisations are well documented, worth investigating if you don’t know about them, and regularly announcing their plans and milestones;

Martijn Wilder AM, Chair of the National Reconstruction Fund Corporation, on it’s way to invest $15 billion on behalf of the Australian Government, and CEO of Pollination, Heechung Sung, Head of Natural Capital for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation along with Tim Buckley, Director of the CEFC, with Mona Sur, Practice Manager of The World Bank.

Interestingly from Martijn;

“.. we have to be able to identify where can we invest from an ecosystem point of view, that will make other investments in that sector really important and viable.

It’s also important to be clear what we’re not, so we’re not a grant making organisation. The department industry has a lot of grants that are accessible. Interestingly, many of the early applications to us and inquiries have been about grants. We’re also not a rescue organisation. Many of the people that have come have sort of come for bailouts, we’re not that either.

And we’re not a replacement for other financing options. Our role is to catalyse financing, to drive things and to work with many of you in this room to really achieve the reinvigoration of those value add sectors.

We can’t force entrepreneurs to take risk, whether that’s starting a company or bidding for a contract, but we really do want to foster an environment which can get comfortable with risk. We can find risk mitigation tools and we can also help people get to market even if there’s not an apparent immediate route to market. So if we see significant supply chain challenges or significant demand challenges, then we need to be able to look at how we can unlock those and how we can help those going forward.

And that will be a really difficult task. It’s not going to be easy.

So what do we need from people in this room? What we need is a willingness to work with us.

We need a desire to see Australia succeed and to move along the value chain. And we need a desire to help people identify what policy needs to be changed so that we can together change that policy and whatever is required.

We promise to try to look fast, give a quick yes or a quick no and find a pathway if we can’t help.

I think the NRF is a really important part of decarbonising the economy. If we can do more to invest in those areas that are beyond just simply producing and growing and we can start to bring down the overall cost of supply chain Australia, we’ll be able to play much more valuable role in building the economy in a decarbonised sense.


Charlotte asked during the introduction ‘who pays?’ (for the change we are seeking) and Heechung Sung‘s response was;

“.. we all pay, we are all paying. Maybe it’s not clear what we’re paying for, but we’re all paying for the loss of biodiversity and climate change that’s impacting our lives.

In terms of creating a marketplace for new financial products like biodiversity, if you want to create a market, you’ve got to create the demand and carbon markets is a great proxy for that.

But ultimately there’s a broader question about what is the cost of capital for these kinds of projects?

They’re all eminently doable, but if you’re still chasing double digit returns, maybe you should consider looking at what is the long-term return profile of these assets that we want to achieve in these investments, and maybe you can afford it.

So I think creating a market and demand through financial instruments is just one tool, but ultimately I think we have to look at the environment in which we want to be able to achieve a nature positive outcome, which is all of us.

It’s not up to one particular part of the sector, we all have to look at how we can contribute to that.”

Mona Sur then gave a great insight into the various sections of The World Bank and relevant initiatives they have;

“.. one of the things that we’ve been working on quite closely is the Forest Carbon Partnership facility, bringing together governments, businesses and communities to reduce the degradation of forests and reduce deforestation across the world.

This has been an ongoing initiative over the last decade, and we’ve just made a payment to Vietnam for about $51.5 million. We signed an emissions purchase agreement with Vietnam and the payment was for 10.3 million tonnes reduction in emissions, but in the period that this emissions purchase agreement covered, which was from early 2018 to 2019, Vietnam significantly exceeded their reductions targets.

So they have at present 6 million credits that they’re looking to monetize to think about whether they’re going to trade these credits, whether they’re going to use it for the NBCs, whether they’re going to retire these credits.

The bank has provided a lot of capacity building and technical assistance and then working with government clients, the actual forest owners and private businesses to make this happen.”

If you aren’t following Tim Buckley on LinkedIn yet I’d suggest you start, as this was his response to Charlotte’s question of what he’d do if he woke up as the Prime Minister for a day, the election was called early and he could make one change to the Australian Government;

“.. Two things – I’d be Scott Morrison, I’ll undermine our democracy and appoint myself as treasurer number one. Why? I’m in a room full of finance people and I’m from finance, and it’s about moving the money at massive speed and massive scale.

And I don’t have to worry about being re-elected because you said it’s only for 1 day, so I’m going to go big.

I would mandate that the Future Fund, the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Australia, has a crystal clear mandate, and a locked in evaluation of the Board, the CEO and the CIO.

The mandate would be:

  1. Maximise the risk adjusted return over the long term, with an immediate $100USD a tonne price on carbon, across the whole portfolio of scope one, two and three emissions. We have one planet, one atmosphere.
  2. A National Interest value-added investment mandate, to reindustrialise our nation, starting with onshore value adding to our critical minerals and strategic metals. So take what Martijn said and do it on steroids, work with the National Reconstruction Fund Corporation – it’s about exporting embodied decarbonisation, which would crowd in a massive amount of renewable energy.
  3. The KPI for the Board, Chair, CIO and CEO – they know that their mandate is to be evaluated not only on maximising long-term risk adjusted returns, but secondly, how much they deploy at speed and scale. It’s about long-term policy and it’s about scale.

As an example, the Federal Government announced they’re putting $840 million into Arafura and that 60% will come from renewables. That’s a market transformation.

It requires strategic insight, we need to think vision, we need to get Australian ownership and then we need to do that 20 times over.

That’s the sort of transaction that will drive the decarbonisation of the world at speed and scale..”

The rest of the session had some excellent insights on the Australian perception that if Governments loose money due to any kind of venture or risk, they are slammed for it compared with the approach of say the USA to innovative risk taking, as well as the need to take the best available technology from around the world and integrate it where relevant, rather than try to out compete folks like China to manufacture PV cells, simply a fools errand.

As a particular example related to the need for picking winners when it comes to industrial sectors, and for Government and business to get together to solve things;

“Electric vehicles for mining. Australia has four of the biggest mining companies in the world, and I was just reading Rio’s report last night, they import $1.6 billion a year of high emission diesel from the Middle East, and they get a $700 million subsidy from our government to do so, rather than electrification in Australia.

We need to take the headwind and make it a tailwind. And that means collaboration.” – Tim Buckley.

Still with me? Take a moment to breathe

It’s a serious question, this review is huge, if you are enjoying it, let me know in the comments, because the next segment with Katie Valentine is a cracker! 🙂

Another brief aside; I’m a fan of Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forest, I did a piece in September on his presentation on lethal humidity to the Boao Forum for Asia, and find it a shame that the norm for Australian culture is to tear down leaders who take a position and seek to genuinely bring us forwards.

Why shouldn’t those with the greatest access to resources make big plays to shape our societies? Who else is doing it? And why am I telling you this? Onwards!

“Real Zero”

Ready to have your mind blown? Meet Katie Valentine, Head of Decarbonisation, Integration and Execution at Fortescue.

Katie opened the session led by Matt Drum – titled ‘Industry approaches to investing in the path to net zero’ – who I congratulate on recently leading Ndevr Environmental into the Anthesis Group, a great success story of growth.

Katie was joined by Justin Merrell, Group Sustainability Director from Lion, and Troy Powell, Head of Sustainability at Orica.

So, real zero? Not ‘net zero’ ? For a huge mining company? Blasphemy, surely

Turns out Fortescue is making a “US$6.2 billion in capital investment by 2030 to eliminate fossil fuel risk and reduce operating costs by US$818 million per year.”

Over to Katie;

“.. A little bit of context about the scale of our decarbonisation challenge. So since starting out the small exploration company about 21 years ago, Fortescue become one of the world’s largest iron ore producers.

We operate five iron ore mines in the Pilbara, which is the remote Northwest of Western Australia. We produce 185 million tonnes of iron ore a year.

To do this, we have to handle a billion tonnes a year of material.

We generate about $5 billion for the Australian state and federal governments in taxes and royalties, but it also means we are a massive carbon emitter.

If we didn’t do anything to decarbonise by 2030, we’d be burning over 700 million litres of diesel a year and using over 15 million gigajoules of natural gas every year.

And our carbon emissions would be about 3 million tonnes a year.

We don’t shy away from this, which is why in September, 2022 we announced our intention to invest 6.2 billion US dollars to achieve what we call real zero.

What we mean by ‘real zero’ – it’s very confusing because we made it up – is that we are going to remove all the fossil fuels from our operations and we are going to get rid of all our scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions by 2030 with no offsets.

We think this might be the most ambitious, heavy industrial decarbonisation programme in the world, but I don’t know if that’s true, so I’m really keen to hear afterwards if anyone else knows of any others.

To do this, we need to install 750 kilometres of high voltage transmission lines. We need to build over two gigawatts of wind and solar, and we need to install at least three gigawatt hours of batteries.

We need to convert over 700 pieces of heavy mining equipment to either battery, electric or green versions. And we also need to figure out how to decarbonise our rail operations, our tugs, and our very large ore carriers, abbreviated to VLOC.

Image c/o Tropic Maritime Images via

We ship our ore to our customers in Asia, and we run our operations 24×7.

So we also need to figure out how we shift our demand so instead of 24×7, we are doing more work when the sun’s shining and the wind’s blowing, and less when it’s not.

This is going to completely change the way we operate and we plan our operations. So how are we progressing? I’d say we’re progressing at pace.

We’ve spent a lot of time figuring out how much wind and solar and batteries we need in our system and we’ve spent a lot of time figuring out where we’re going to put that wind and solar.

We’re doing a lot of environmental surveys and working with our traditional custodian partners to figure out whether they want the renewables on their land.

We’ve also invested quite a lot of time, I think 1 million hours of labour hours to date, in making and creating what we need for decarbonisation.

We’ve worked with Liebherr Mining and we’ve acquired a company called WAE and we developed our first electric prototype haul truck last year and trialled it in the Pilbara.

We also created a three megawatt fast charger to charge the truck and a few other things. Also, we started the first ever cabled electric excavator in Australia, that was put into operation last year and just overnight it’s done it’s million tonne.

So that’s pretty cool. Yeah, we’re pretty busy. Thanks..”

After hearing from the other speakers, Matt asked Katie to dig into the leap of faith required to push forward on “a commitment that’s so aggressive” and speak to the drivers and headwinds they are facing.

I’d argue looking at the science and climate realities of the modern day, this level of action is the least of what we should be doing globally, and aggressive is a mischaracterisation.

It reminds me of Rutger Bregman at Davos in 2019 (click here to watch) delivering his 2 minute mic drop on how ridiculous it is that 1,500 private jets have flown in to hear Sir David Attenborough speak on how we’re wrecking the planet, and to discuss justice, participation, equality and justice, and no ones talking about tax avoidance and the rich not paying their fare share. Back to Katie Valentine;

“.. There are three reasons why we’re doing our decarbonisation programme.

Firstly, thankfully we’ve got a board and leadership who realises the need for urgency in action in terms of addressing climate change.

Secondly, we believe decarbonisation makes economic sense;

If you think about it, we pay a dollar a litre for every litre of diesel we burn. If we get rid of all the diesel, that’s $700 million a year we save. So that’s quite a lot.

And then I think as Megan Flynn this morning articulated at the start of the day, we really see it as a great business opportunity to transform Fortescue into a global integrated green technology, energy and metals company.

In terms of some of the headwinds, well there’s a lot.

So I think one of the headwinds probably most companies face doesn’t exist as much for us in terms of getting the organisational buy-in.

One of Fortescue’s company values is stretch targets.

Our Board set us a really clear target to completely decarbonise by 2030, and the whole organisation galvanised around that, making that stretch target a reality.

But it’s not without its challenges.

So for a mining company to decarbonise, one of the things you need to sort out is all the green mining equipment.

When we started in 2021 that didn’t exist. We went to our traditional OEMs who we normally work with and we said;

“Hey, we’d like to buy some green trucks.”

And they said “we can get you one in like 2031.”

We said “that’s not good enough”.

So we ended up buying Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE) who develops batteries for the Formula-E Racing cars.

They’re based in the UK, so we acquired them and then we partnered with Leibherr to create our own Green Electric Ore truck, and as I said we trialled the prototype last year.

That’s the cornerstone of our mining fleet – it’s a culprit of about 25% of our emissions.

And then because we’ve got a battery electric truck, we needed a fast charger, so we’ve developed one of those and then we’ve been working through the list of all the other equipment we need as well.

Sometimes it’s new technology, sometimes it’s existing technology that’s supplied a different way, that excavator I mentioned, that’s existed in the mining industry for many, many years, but our one was the very first one to operate in Australia.

Then we’ve got that massive huge long tail of different pieces of equipment across our operations that all use diesel from remote dewatering bores to the thousands of smaller bits of equipment that are used on site.

Probably one of the hardest areas is we also need to get our contractors to get rid of all the diesel things that they bring to our sites and get green things as well.

Then there’s been challenges that we never thought, well, I never thought that’d be a challenge. So for example, logistics.

I didn’t think that it would be a thing, but it turns out it is.

There’s one road which is the Great Northern Highway that brings everything from port headland into our mining operations.

We need to bring hundred metre long wind turbine blades down that road that’s used for many, many other things, so that’s a challenge.

I’d say what’s actually been really amazing on our decarb journey is with that really clear objective, we’ve got hundreds of people across the organisation working hard to overcome whatever challenges come up.

There’s lots of engineers involved and I think for them it’s like solving a big jigsaw puzzle. Everyone’s really, really engaged in solving the problems and I think just the fact that we are so ambitious in what we’re doing really helps us attract talent into the organisation.

While there’s always going to be challenges, I think you just need the right organisational mindset and culture to work through them..”

Inspired? I reckon you know a few people that could be presented with that story as a precedent for getting things happening.

Justin Merrell, Group Sustainability Director, Lion, outlined how they are one of Australia’s largest brewers, the largest in New Zealand and the largest craft brewer in the United States.

Interestingly, they are owned by the Japanese company Kirin, who paid $3.3bn back in 2009 to buy the remaining 53.9% of Lion they didn’t already own, and had a run at helping Lion try to unsuccessfully buy Coca-Cola Amatil for $7.7BN AU in the same year.

As a huge brewing company, Justin shared how they are a very large energy and water user, as well as producing over a billion containers to market every year.

Mixing rooftop solar, biogas and buying 100% renewable electricity for their operations as of the 1st of January last year, they are ahead of their science-based targets of a 2030 reduction in emissions by 55%, now at 68%.

This is primarily by focusing on electricity, as it’s 50% of their overall emissions.

‘Playing safe’ was consistently expressed, and looking at technology innovation they are in the process of signing of an electric boiler in New Zealand and seeing how they can digest spent grain and turning it into hydrogen.

“.. on packaging, our key metric is recycled content. The more recycled content we can get into our containers, the lower the carbon intensity.

For the first time last year, the average recycled content in our beer cans exceeded 70%.

So we’ve got a massive amount of recycled content going into those containers and it’s reducing the carbon emissions and water, and we’re the second biggest water user in Sydney.

Spinning this conversation to nature, that’s only 2% of the water that’s required to actually produce beer with the majority of the water actually used in the dry cropping of our ingredients. So it’s a lovely little patch to play in. We’ve got transport, we’ve got aluminium, steel, glass, agriculture, and we make beer. It’s not a bad gig!” – Justin.

A fascinating point also arose during the Q&A, in the frustration that arises from legal teams wanting to shut down conversation between competitors.

When it comes to recycled content of containers, Visy is the largest manufacturer of recycled glass bottles in Australia and New Zealand, so the glass coming out of it’s furnaces are used across industry.

If the market agreed together to make the glass a little bit more cloudy, meaning it had higher recycled content, they can take 10-20% of emissions out of the process for everyone.

But everyone needs to agree. Meaning they need to talk. Frustrating, hey?

Making a business case for an industrial decarbonisation project

I was going to begin this section with something about the Chemical Brothers or the name of the pictured software below ‘BlastIQ’, because who doesn’t like marketing, though I’ll just say leave it to Troy Powell from Orica:

“.. For those who don’t know us, we don’t sponsor a cycling team anymore – we do manufacture commercial explosives and provide blasting services. We also have a growing business in technology and digital solutions that go to making blasting and mining more precise to improve productivity, and improve ore recovery. “

Troy’s angle was the transition of Orica into a digital technology business in support of its blasting services, and this as the future of the company. In the past weeks they’ve invested one and a half billion in North America and Canada in a chemical company and new digital business.

He spoke to Kooragang Island where Orica have an ammonia plant and three nitric acid plants, which combine to produce commercial explosive and fertiliser, then went on to say how half of the operational emissions come from the nitric acid manufacturer, and technology exists today that can almost fully abate the GHG emissions of that process.

It’s already deployed readily throughout Europe, and done so in response to their $80-100 Euro carbon price, which doesn’t exist elsewhere in the world.

We were told the crux of making it a reality in Australia, which they have done (Orica nearly halves GHG emissions at Kooragang), came down to developing an Industrial Carbon Project that earns ACCUs, de-risking the business model by entering into a carbon abatement contract with the Federal Government through the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) – also meaning the Government would cancel the credits against their accounts, enabling them to credibly claim the emissions reduction – and then to transition finance.

Whilst they could have apparently paid for it themselves, by working with the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the finance is linked to penalties if the technology doesn’t meet it’s emissions goals, also requiring the company to share its knowledge and learning as part of the contract.

Troy said they are doing over half a billion tonnes of abatement annually, and they’ve done it in Canada and are doing it this year for their Gladstone plant, with competitors following two or three years behind.

So that’s how to make a business case for an industrial decarbonisation project.

There was another block of company pitches after this and a closing segment before dinner, the enthusiasm for the day was palpable, to which Peter Castellas closed the day in his particular style;

“It’s been a wonderful day to spend with you all at this iconic MCG.

Amongst very informed people who know the magnitude of this critical moment in history.

Friendships made, future meetings planed and deals were quietly done,

having coffee sitting out on the terrace or over lunch with a beef randang.

As the climate alarm bells ring on planet, few in this room need little persuasion, no fluffing around the edges folks, from our privileged position, we need to rise to the occasion.

And as we saw this many times on the stage throughout this intense and fascinating day, the dedication, passion and spirit of those of you, who are leading the way.

We kicked off the programme with some spirited discussion, powerful forces and trends wise and forthright they gave us some insights on just how the emission curve bends.

It’s the mother all market signals, as global carbon is inevitably priced,

the world over smart money is moving – dare I say it,

it’s a Climate Zeitgiest!

The investor panel outlined the opportunity for our economy to decarbonise

pragmatic and considered based on no reason to evangelise.

We are seeing the climate thematic cut across every asset class but requires deep thought and deep risk analysis, not something you just pull out of your.. textbook.

Once you get alignment of institution allocations our fund managers can scale.

Unlocking money from super funds into climate might just be the holy grail.

The plenary discussed blended capital and the role of government funds, the integration of philanthropy and family office wealth as it moves through its stories and sums.

But the question of who pays hangs in the air because emission reductions come at a cost.

Internalising those externalities as we move money at scale is a game so far it seems we’ve lost.

But as the reinvented Scomo (Tim) said, let’s leverage our national funding bodies for market transformation, and maximise the long-term risk adjusted returns as we industrialise our nation.

In the corporate panel, they covered how they are climate investors, driving real climate action.

At the board level to shop floor, through value chains – it’s starting to get real traction.

This massive investment shift has begun away from coal, oil, gas and diesel.

See what we can do if we use that profit motive for good and not for evil.

And through the day we saw a phenomenal wave of innovation, the best of the investible client solutions to apply to protect from across the nation.

There are some game changing unicorns in waiting if their tech is fully deployed.

Such great presentation in sector sessions was like shark tank for climate on steroids, harnessing the ocean resources, capturing CO2 in rocks or sophisticated grid integration.

And cool technology is enabling biodiversity conservation, innovation in the built environment and electrifying things on the move.

We watched enormous presenters who really got into their groove – efficient mining technologies and climate tech, software and hard, some futuristic inventions you could imagine they used by Star Treks, Jean-Luc Picard.

Ways to decarbonize the agri value chain and a new circular economy that goes around by redesigning our resource use, we might stop having to dig so much shit out of the ground.

We need to unlock the great capital for innovation and it’s got to start now.

Channel it into some of the companies we saw today that made us go wow.

Amazing innovators going out a vision where my take was that they thought nothing’s impossible, with people like that leading the charge, positive change is unstoppable.

And as we choose to tackle this problem, we all have our roles to play, and we’ve seen some of the best exponent of our craft in meetings of minds today.

There’s an urgency that we do this and as a society we must commit.

As Obama once said, we’re the first generation feeling the effects of climate change, and the last that could do something about it.

The plight of the planet needs us to transform our economies and we cannot contemplate failure.

These solutions are here, which we can take to the world and together let’s build Brand Australia. Don’t let us look back on this time because of risk diversion and dumb policies that the opportunity was missed.

If we crack this, let’s face it, we can all get absolutely .. rewarded for our hard work and efforts.. and feel like we made a valuable contribution.”

Peter then gave a closing acknowledgement to the volunteers, sponsors and his key colleagues Charlotte Connell and Michele Hartz

“.. thanks to all of you, who are all starring actors in the unfolding climate change drama, self-selecting to be here and choosing your field of endeavour.

It’s just good karma.

And finally, my respects to the people that came before us on this sacred hollow ground. Let’s do our part for our ancestors and make our next generation proud”

Generational Thinking and Ecology

Dinner was hosted by Fiona Messent, Executive Manager of Climate Change at Qantas and opened with a short address from a young leader, 12 years old, Joey Castellas, who called on us to come together in tackling the global challenge of climate change, and look beyond changes in our daily lives like obvious things such as recycling;

“.. Our efforts should extend beyond personal truths. We should support leaders who prioritise environmental conservation and sustainable policies.

These leaders, like some of you in this room, can implement vital changes such as transitioning to clean and renewable energy sources, protecting our vital ecosystem, and apply policies that reduce carbon emissions.

Furthermore, which must embrace innovation.

Science and technology, hold the key to finding the solutions to climate change.

People in this room have shown that by developing ground breaking ideas and inventions such as from nature-based solutions to sustainable agricultural practises, our generation has the opportunity to build on your work.

Because we need more innovation – much more.

In conclusion, let’s be change makers for future generations together.

Together we can work towards leaving a healthier, more sustainable planet behind for those who inherit it;

Your children. My children.

Climate change affects all of us, and it’s our responsibility to address it head on, together.

Thank you.”

Valerie Taylor AM, 88, then joined us, an iconic conservationist photographer and film maker (wiki) and with a current exhibition running till 31st of August ‘An Underwater Life‘ at the Federal Governments Sea Museum in Sydney.

Valerie delivering a passionate call to see ourselves as part of nature and our oceans, rather than exploiters of it for economic benefit or endless consumption, and you can see Part 1 of ‘Diving in Deep’ on Australian Story of her life here and this is Part 2.

Something that struck me about the audience’s reaction to Valerie, and her genuine dismay about age and biology catching up with her ability to be an activist when there was still so much work to do, is the audible ‘awww’ I hear from groups, in a somewhat almost infantilizing ‘aren’t they cute’ way – though maybe it’s that just my interpretation and what I’m hearing is empathy!

In the past four years I’ve been spending more time than I used to with elders in our society, in the 70-90 year old range, and I’m constantly meeting bright eyed, powerful, wise humans, who have seen so much and want for so much more, and this is what came through in spades during Valerie’s conversation with Fiona.

The Hon. Julia Gillard AC – 27th Prime Minister of Australia

Ms Gillard opened with a quote from the book Orbital by Samantha Harvey, that she had just finished reading;

“One day they look at earth and they see the truth. They come to see the politics of want, the politics of growing and getting, a billion extrapolations of the urge for more. The planet is shaped by the sheer amazing force of human want, which has changed everything.

The forest, the mountains, the poles, the reservoirs, the glaciers, the rivers, the seas, the mountains, the coastlines, the skies, a planet, contoured and landscape by want.”

And those words struck me as one, lyrical, beautifully written, but two, capturing an essential truth about climate change, which is of course, as we know, the result of the way in which we as human beings have exploited this planet.

But in mitigating and adapting, in changing the climate change pathway we are on, we need to learn something about ourselves and how we interact with this planet rather than just learning more about the planet’s processes and its reaction to climate change.

For us as a global community to come together, we need to learn something about who we are and how we can live in this world and navigate the future, which is not dictated by this kind of rapacious politics of want. And we haven’t been able to do it yet, despite all of the innovation of people in this room and beyond, we are not on the right pathway when it comes to addressing climate change. And we could have been on a far better pathway if we’ve been able to sustain here in Australia and in many other parts of the world, a more bipartisan approach, a more unified approach towards what needs to be done.

It’s often forgotten in the history now that the 2007 election, when the first Rudd government came to office, the politics of that election were partisan in the sense that there were different views about signing the Kyoto Protocol, but bipartisan about the need for an emissions trading scheme.

It was in John Howard’s policy manifesto to the election. It was in the labour policy manifesto.

Now what happened to break that bipartisanship? Well, people will have different views and different analysis, but I think it was broken through following series of things.

One, what was referred to as the once in a Millennia drought came to an end and in the minds of many community members that drought had been climate change and climate change was that drought. So when those drought circumstances were alleviated, then climate change went backwards in the community’s expectations about its key concerns.

What replaced, amongst the list of key concerns was the global financial crisis, and what it would mean for them and their families.

Then we had the fiasco of Copenhagen, the international negotiations which broke down.

And of course we had too, the aftershocks of what was called Climate-Gate, but which was a trumped up saga to try and get people to doubt climate science.

And all of that meant that in the political system, not just here in Australia but certainly here, that the opposition sensed an opportunity to exploit all of these anxieties and to make climate change a very partisan issue.

And that led of course to a decade of inaction.

Well, we are finally back with a government that believes climate change needs to be addressed.

But whilst there might have been that decade of political inaction, I am absolutely delighted that no one in this room has been inactive. And what was left from the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and the associated legislation, what remained despite the repeal of the CPRS, has helped people in this room and beyond innovate, invest and change the way we think about how we are going to address climate change.

So it’s great to be amongst you! Of course, in gatherings like this, when we talk about climate change, we very quickly end up talking about degrees 1.5 or 2 degrees. What can we achieve? What can we hold the rate of change to?

That is the debate. It was the debate when I was in politics, the discussion we often have. But now in my post political life, I tend to think about climate change, not so much through the prism of degrees of warming, but I now think about it through the metric of how many lives are going to be lost because of climate change?

And this new perspective has come to me in my role as chair of the Board of the Wellcome Trust, which is a major philanthropic fund head quartered in the United Kingdom, which invests in scientific research and we are particularly investing in research around the intersection of climate and health. And I can tell you from that scientific research and endeavour that the findings are unequivocal.

Climate change is a threat to the progress on health that the world has worked so hard to achieve in the last century.

Millions will die sooner than they should. Billions will be less healthy than they otherwise would’ve been. And whilst wealth might be a partial shield for some, no one will be immune.

A changing climate will increase the spread of infectious diseases. It already is including malaria, cholera, and hepatitis. It makes staple crops like rice, wheat, and soybean harder to grow and reduces their nutritional value. Of course, it fuels rises in floods and drought.

Extreme heat is dangerous, especially for pregnant women and newborns. And we are seeing already the phenomenon of more low birth weight babies as a result of exposure to extreme heat and more lower birthrate, babies are of course less likely to survive. And extreme heat is a huge challenge for older people and for those who need to engage in physical occupations – between 2010 and 2019, 38 heat waves cause more than 70,000 deaths globally.

At Wellcome, we are investing a hundred million pounds this year alone, in furthering our understanding of the intersection of climate and health.

We funded research to understand the biology of heats effects on maternal and child health, and test ways to adapt to health related risks. We are trying to invest in the design of early warning systems to anticipate the changing patterns of infectious diseases. And we are also trying to provide advice to government about which mitigation and adaptation pathways are actually most protective of human health.

There is a lot to do and yet even as we do that work, we are involved in the advocacy about fossil fuels because when we come together in discussions like this, it’s very important that we discuss very directly the impact of fossil fuels and what needs to be done on fossil fuels to address climate change.

Of course, burning fossil fuels on an industrial scale for decades has driven global heating, which in turn is having these health impacts. But burning fossil fuels also drives air pollution, which itself causes health problems for people around the world.

Health research released in the British Medical Journal last year shows that a transition to renewable energy will save, through the reduction in air pollution alone, at least 5.1 million lives annually.

Other research has shown reducing methane emissions by 45% would save 73 billion hours of labour loss to extreme heat and over 700,000 hospital visits related to asthma alone. That’s why our message is that phasing our fossil fuels is a public health intervention. It will protect and promote people’s health around the world at an unprecedented scale.

And yet, time goes by and we all go to COP meetings or many in this room would go to COP meetings. I went to the last COP meeting in Dubai and whilst we were delighted to see for the first time ever that climate and health were recognised as connected issues through a climate and health day, and over 120 countries signed on to a new agreement about climate and health.

Whilst we were delighted to see that too little progress was made on the core questions that the world needs to face up to, if we are truly to address the climate change challenge.

Now that doesn’t mean that we should give up on politics. I would be the last person in the world to say that, let me assure you the absolute last.

It’s incredibly important that smart, informed people continue to engage with political leaders here and around the world. That new evidence is produced to inform the debate. At Wellcome, the body that I Chair is very focused on that evidence generation, that we give that evidence too, to the community in the hope of creating a virtuous cycle where voters and communities pressure political leaders for a greater rate of change – we need to see that.

Even as we are doing that mass mobilisation task, we have to keep working through all of the various ways that you are working, to secure change today.

And that is once again where your innovation, your intelligence, your passion for bringing together the best minds with the capital they need, with the interventions that you know will work, to change the course of our planet’s pathway, the pathway we’re on in terms of climate change, through your own actions.

And I am just delighted to hear as I’ve moved around and talked to people about so many of the innovations that you’ve talked about today. And I know that you are just getting started.”

Peter Castellas –

“We talking before about back in 2007, the bipartisan approach and 2007 election around an emissions trading scheme. And I think we as a community, particularly a lot of people who work in this space, didn’t see that it was going to be the flashpoint issue of the decade.

And I think again, people in this room will recognise how difficult it must have been for you to be actually in the multi-party committee on climate change to prosecute and get the carbon pricing mechanism passed.

It then got implemented. We had an emissions trading, we had a carbon price and we had a beating of our emissions curve.

Clive Palmer, as you probably remember, was the only company that didn’t comply in the first year of the carbon price. We’ve struggled obviously since then to be able to get anywhere near bipartisan or consensus and we have a divergence coming again.

Do you think political leadership on climate change in Australia is ever possible?”

Ms Gillard –

“I think there was a cocktail of factors at that time which had been lessened now.

Which doesn’t mean they’ve gone to absolute zero, but they’re lessened.

And I think the cocktail of factors was as I mentioned before, people were more worried about their jobs, more worried about what was happening with the global financial crisis and climate change receded in the community’s imagination. Climate gate, the questions about the science were very hot then, we had all of that, failure with Copenhagen, we had all of that tied in with the hysteria that the opposition and the media were trying to beat up about a minority government.

So you would recall that the reporting of everything was done through this sort of crisis prism of ‘it’s a minority government, is it still going to be there tomorrow? Is there going to be an election the next day?’

You need to apparently check the papers every morning to work out if the government had fallen the night before and the fact the government went to full term, it always looked like it was going to go to full term, none of that undermined that hysteria.

I think the attitude of the traditional media at the time was, I particularly point out the Murdoch press here, was anti climate change action and so infused anti climate change action and if not outright supporters of denialism – at least in a flirtatious relationship – and that was affecting the coverage.

And I do think there was a bit around gender in it too. So having the first woman as Prime Minister, it was easy for people to characterise, and the opposition did characterise me.

I don’t have children, so I was easily characterised as “what is woman who chooses not to have children. She’s obviously not a person of family, she’s not caring person. She’s not someone who understands your family’s life, she’s needed to do a deal to create a government and she’s more interested in the deal and furthering her government, than she is in you and your family” and leveraging that into a set of images that created fear and concern.

So I think this was all a kind of swirling, fairly toxic brew.

Now what has survived out of that and what hasn’t?

Apparently the Murdoch newspapers had the biggest conversion since Saul walked the road to Damascus, which took me by surprise, but there we have it.

I think the attitude of the traditional media is different now.

You don’t have that minority government situation or the hysteria that comes with that.

You don’t have the same gender tropes in play. I do think the climate science denialism has receded.

I think there is less of that in the contemporary debate now and there is more community dialogue about their own lived experience with climate change.

One of the most common conversations in Australia if you meet a stranger or someone you don’t know very much at a event is people will talk about how the weather is different than it used to be and things that are different in their hometown than they used to be.

So all of that I think has changed in a way that makes it potentially easier to navigate leadership on climate change.

But we do still need to see a difference on the conservative side of politics and there’s a hell of a lot wrong with British politics and there’s a lot of change needed there. But spending as I do now, more than six months of each year in the UK, and one thing that particularly struck me in the road to COP at Glasgow, is ‘pro climate change action Conservatives’ – who knew? Who knew that God made pro climate change action conservatives, and they’re not even necessarily great conservative leaders.

I mean, Boris Johnson, a pro climate change of action conservative, you’re entitled I think to have a view about Covid and Party Gate and all the rest of it. But he represents, he and many, many others, Theresa May, David Cameron, represent in British political context a brand of conservatism on climate change that we haven’t had here or haven’t had in dominance here.

Certainly Malcolm Turnbull was of that brand, but as we know that was not the majority brand within his political party, or his leadership would’ve continued. And so there does need to be rethinking on the conservative side because there’s lots of ways of being a conservative in this world without reaching for campaigning against climate action.

And the true heritage of conservative parties has always been around preserving what we have for the future. And you would’ve thought preserving our planet in the best possible condition for the future should fit squarely in that political tradition.”

Peter Castellas –

“So there’s a number of people in this room that are beneficiaries of the policies that you in place when you were Prime Minister. There’s the Clean Energy Finance Corporation which turned 10 last year and has leveraged 32 billion worth of private sector investment.

We’ve got the renewable energy target, the carbon farming initiatives, ARENA has been setup, there’s investment in innovation, a lot of people in here have their jobs because of that.

Do you take time to reflect on your own legacy in something like that? “

Ms Gillard –

“I’m not someone who obsesses about the past either positive or negative, which to be frank I think has done be a lot of good.

One thing I was really clear in my mind about when I exited politics was that I would need to find – it’s almost a mental trick or determination – I would need to find a way of saying that’s then, and this is now.

Obviously I’ve got all of my memories and my analysis and all the rest of it, but not continue to get up and live it every morning. And it was reinforced because before I was in politics, I was a lawyer at Slater and Gordon, which was I think the first or certainly one of the first firms, to offer a first free consultation.

And I worked in employment law and so you’d get all comers with their employment disputes and you would get people who would literally, these are in the days of leaver arch files full of documents.

You’d get people who would walk in with five folders under their arm, plonk it on your desk and say, “my employment dispute all started 15 years ago”.

And then you’d be trying to hurry them through it because it was supposed to be a free first half hour – “okay, 15 minutes, we’ve only been through year one – we’ve got quite a few to go, pick up the pace a bit.”

And you would listen and listen and listen and often, something bad had happened to them, but the circumstance they were in with you, was more about how they had continuously focused on it and not let it go and it had just poisoned the rest of their life.

And you really felt in that moment like you wanted to say “Forget I’m a lawyer. Let me give you some personal advice. Go home tonight, shred all of those documents, get rid of them, never think about it again and you’ll have a happier life.”

When I came out of politics, I thought I needed to take some of my own wisdom and advice from my early legal career, so when I wrote my story because I wanted to get it down and seal it while it was still fresh in my mind.

Post that, I really don’t obsess about it other than I am reminded – because people generously come up and remind me – and in the most curious of circumstances.

When I’m in Australia, the thing people walk up and talk to me about the most is the NDIS.

I have more people come up and talk to me about their family’s experience with the NDIS than anything else. And people are very grateful that the scheme came into operation and that warms my heart.

As I move around the world I here about what people are doing as a result of the climate work. I was in a coffee shop in London in Primrose Hill, I visited a friend and was just grabbing a coffee before going back to where I live, and I thought it’s raining, I thought I’ll drink a coffee and see if I can dodge through and not get too wet.

And the woman who was sitting next to me, she kinda looked three times, then said to me with a British accent “I know who you are and I just wanted to thank you” – I thought she’s going to say the misogyny speech – And she said “I wanted to thank you for the Carbon Farming Initiative.”

That’s so random! A British Woman in Primrose Hill.

She had a long story about living on a station in the Northern Territory where they pioneered carbon farming and it had set her on a pathway where she’s still working in the climate space and doing a tremendous amount of good. So when things like that happen, I do get reminded and that’s very, very nice.

But YOU (to the audience) get to do all of this thinking for me. So thank you for doing everything that you do. Whilst I try and focus on what I’m doing now and what implications it might have for the future, rather than thinking back to what happened..”

Peter Castellas –

“.. One final question, we started the day today framing that there’s a group of people in this room, that when you look at the intellectual capital and the capability and the selection to be here, that we’ve got an ability to make a difference and to be cohort of people with our skill sets and our finance to actually have some influence, and it’s a very influential group of people. What would you like to say to them? “

Ms Gillard –

“.. Well, firstly, I’d like to say thank you. Thank you for keeping up action on climate change, even when political circumstances didn’t allow it to be kept up here. So thank you for that. Thank you for being prepared to come together like this.

The esprit de corps in the room has just been so obvious to me, and that’s such a healthy thing that people come together in a spirit of collaboration and finding connections rather than in a sort of dog eat dog competitive spirit. It’s wonderful to see.

And anything that you are doing now, if you can double it, triple it, quadruple it, please do.

Because our world needs to move faster. And so much of that comes down to you.

I do want to be going to COPs in the future representing Wellcome, where unlike Glasgow for example, you are able to proudly walk around and talk about all of the things that are happening in Australia.

People would recall in Glasgow, Australia was not really being fated in any way. You would wake up and look at the newsfeeds and it would be “and the standouts in the communique are Russia, Australia” – for us to be able to be at those international meetings absolutely showcasing the tremendous spirit of innovation and can do here, that’s something that I think we should all aspire to and it would be great to be able to do it together at future COPs.”

Thank you for reading!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my coverage of the 2024 Climate Investor Forum, organised by Climate Zeitgeist, and if you didn’t catch Part 1, it’s here.

Likely you know many who benefit from the insights and inspiration here, so do give this a share, leave a comment and give it a like.

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A note to change makers

If I can be of assistance in speeding up your sales and investment cycle, introducing you to the right people across the investor spectrum, increasing your valuation, making your team look amazing or structuring your complexity into a simple and compelling narrative, reach out for a chat!

– Philip Bateman