Category: News

Australian business leaders and industry groups unite to advance climate economy transformation

An alliance of business leaders, industry and community groups are committing to a five-year alliance to get on with the job of planning and delivering our sustainable economy transformation.

Engineers Australia, the Planning Institute of Australia, the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition and the Infrastructure Sustainability Council are among the first to join the Climate Ready Australia 2030 (CRA2030) alliance which is a flagship project of Griffith University’s Climate Ready Initiative (CRI).

The project is backed by CRI’s high-profile board and chaired by internationally-recognised impact investment expert Rosemary Addis AM who believes Australia is at a crossroads where we should make strategic decisions about the future we want to create.

“Done well, the transformation required by climate change has the capacity to deliver substantial positive social, economic and environmental benefits,” said Ms Addis. 

Credit: Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation
Rosemary Addis AM, Chair of the CRI presenting on investment for impact.

Credit: Jaana Dielenberg
Energy intensive industries like construction face a rapid transformation.

“But, if we don’t keep pace with global expectations we will increasingly see Australian goods and services penalised, such as through facing higher trade tariffs. Our agriculture, energy, health, and infrastructure sectors all face major threats that we must prepare for.

“If we don’t take transformative action on climate change now, Australia risks missing out on the substantive economic opportunity, jobs creation and broader environmental co-benefits of a carbon neutral future. 

“Australia currently lacks a plan for how to deliver our carbon commitments while ensuring that 25 million Australians are better off in 5, 20 and 50 years time,” Ms Addis said.

“This is an ambitious project aiming to fill this critical gap, by developing a detailed plan of how to get there, in collaboration with the industries and community groups that must be part of solutions.”

Convening CRA2030 is Sam Mackay, Executive Director of the CRI, who said that other peak groups are encouraged to join the Alliance.

“By joining, industry and community groups can help to shape a shared plan for sustainable development that builds on past successes.

“This includes identifying the big transformative actions and investments needed to minimise Australia’s risk and enhance our opportunities in a rapidly transforming world,” Mr Mackay said. 

Professor Brendan Mackey, CRI Deputy-Chair and Director of the Griffith Climate Action Beacon, said that Griffith University provides a neutral platform to facilitate dialogue and collaboration between business, government and community, as well as helping ensure these deliberations are informed by robust evidence.

“The alliance will benefit from Griffith’s internationally recognised expertise and experience in climate risk management and social and economic development, in Australian and in the Asia-Pacific,” Prof Mackey said.

Australian business leader and CRI Board Member Ann Sherry AO said, “Ultimately climate resilience and driving to net zero requires us all to be part of the solution: Corporations and companies, investors and asset managers and community organisations.

“This coalition of interests brings together these, sometimes disparate, voices and interests to drive the joint effort and change we need, and the urgency we need.”

Credit: Jaana Dielenberg
Industries need to prepare for future climate risks. For example sheep districts in western Queensland and NSW are expected to face increased temperatures and more time in drought.

Here is what some of our alliance partners had to say:

Credit: Planning Institute of Australia
David Williams, CEO Planning Institute of Australia.

“Meaningful action on climate change will take every sector across the nation stepping forward together.

“Planners want to play their part in that shared future by creating more resilient communities, liveable places and a stronger natural environment across Australia.”

Dr Bronwyn Evans AM, CEO Engineers Australia.

“Engineers Australia is committed to real-world action to address the increasingly urgent threat of climate change impacts, both globally and in Australia.

“Working with governments, industry, academia, and the broader community, engineers can help design and build a sustainable, prosperous future for all. The CRA2030 project will help drive a significant and shared national agenda to that end.”

Caitlin Figueiredo, Co-Chair Australian Youth Affairs Coalition

“Young people have the knowledge and ambition to create a more sustainable future that works for everyone. We want fair and inclusive climate action that leaves no one behind.

“The CRA2030 project is an opportunity to embrace climate action and to work together with young people and the entire community to determine our shared future.”


Ainsley Simpson, CEO Infrastructure Sustainability Council

“As the peak infrastructure sustainability body across Australia and New Zealand we believe urgent action is required to shift towards infrastructure that both delivers and enables a low-carbon, climate-resilient infrastructure.

“The CRA2030 is a powerful opportunity to break-down industry silos and achieve impact across the economy for people, the planet and business.”

Top Photo : Our cities and suburbs are changing. For example, Adelaide is predicted to have more very hot days. Good urban planning can help to reduce the impacts. Credit: Jaana Dielenberg

High-profile board to drive new approach for climate action

Growing concern about climate change has led to the appointment of an Australian-first board to help develop new strategies, partnerships and investment for climate action.

The high-profile group will be chaired by internationally-recognised impact investment expert Rosemary Addis AM. It also includes community leaders such as John Hewson AM, Ann Sherry AO, Anthony McAvoy SC, Helen Szoke AO, Sophia Hamblin Wang and Professor Brendan Mackey.

The board will advise Griffith University’s new Climate Ready Initiative (CRI) as it develops a model that can enable the much-needed partnership, investment and collective action required to prepare Australia for future climate risks and opportunities.

Mrs Addis AM says Australia needs a shared agenda for climate readiness that builds on what we’ve learned through COVID-19 to serve people and their communities, the planet and our economy.

“People and organisations across all sectors in Australia are recognising we have a common interest in just and sustainable climate action,’’ she said.

“Connecting stakeholders across sectors will be critical to unlocking the solutions and investment needed to achieve real impact.”

CRI Executive Director Sam Mackay says the initiative will play a convening role in developing blueprints for climate action.

“Our economic, social and environmental systems are facing unprecedented risk and opportunity, but society is not sufficiently prepared to deal with the widespread changes that lie ahead.

“By supporting the development of climate-ready business cases, pilot projects and upscale projects, the CRI will ensure Australia is prepared.”

The CRI will be hosted by the recently established Griffith Climate Action Beacon, led by Director Professor Brendan Mackey, who will serve as CRI Deputy Chair & Climate Change Adviser.

“All sectors of society are calling for climate action to ensure a sustainable, secure and prosperous future, but as yet there’s no clarity or catalyst for achieving this,’’ Professor Mackey said.

“This is why the Griffith Climate Action Beacon is seeking to establish the CRI, to partner with a broad cross section of society and initiate a strategic, coordinated and just transition to a net-zero emission and climate resilient future.

“Universities have a unique convening power to help progress society on the critical issue of climate action. The CRI will be formally launched in early to mid 2021.”

The diverse CRI board sends a clear signal that there is ample opportunity for leadership from all sectors to shape Australia’s climate resilient future. It brings together societal leaders, including government, banking and tourism executives, leaders in innovation and investment, key climate scientists, health and human rights advocates, law and land rights advocates, policy and political experts and leaders in climate action and sustainability.

“Recent history has shown that it is possible to attract significant private investment for climate action within a stable market,” said John Hewson AM, CRI Sustainable Finance Adviser.

“We know from analysis of an Australian transition that a low-carbon economy could potentially generate benefits that outweigh costs 5 to 1.

“A co-ordinated effort to transition towards a net-zero emissions and climate resilient future is not only paramount, but it makes economic sense as well.”

Mrs Addis AM is optimistic that with the right approach, Australia can be a leader in climate action.

“There is definitely an appetite to build resilience and Australia has much to gain from pursuing ambitious goals on climate action that drive a dynamic and informed market and deliver quality outcomes for communities. We believe CRI can make a significant contribution.”

The announced board members and their focus are as follows:

  • Rosemary Addis AM – Chair & Social Impact Adviser
  • Prof Brendan Mackey – Deputy Chair & Climate Change Adviser
  • John Hewson AM – Sustainable Finance Adviser
  • Ann Sherry AO – Corporate Sustainability Adviser
  • Anthony McAvoy SC – Law & Justice Adviser
  • Helen Szoke AO – Equity & Inclusion Adviser
  • Sophia Hamblin Wang – Innovation & Technology Advisor
  • Sam Mackay – Executive Director

Further information on the CRI and board can be found at:

Top Photo: Board Chair Rosemary Addis presenting on investing for impact

Rosemary Addis AM, internationally-recognised impact investment expert and Chair of the Climate Ready Initiative

Sam Mackay, CRI Executive Director

Professor Brendan Mackey, Director of the Griffith Climate Action Beacon and Deputy Chair & Climate Change Adviser for the CRI.

John Hewson AM, CRI Sustainable Finance Adviser

Putting “how’ at the centre of climate debate

Let’s start the discussion on what to do about climate change at a different point.

Put aside what government thinks and what politics does. Just push that out of the way. What does that leave you with? Where do you go next?

Sam Mackay, the Executive Director of the Climate Ready Initiative, thinks that leaves us with one compelling question – how? How can we position Australia to thrive in a low carbon and climate resilient world? How can we enable the Australian population to help get us there?

The Climate Ready Initiative is a new social impact initiative that has been established by the Griffith University Climate Action Beacon.

Of course, reducing the vast complexity of climate action in to one simple question is not to diminish the size, range, or difficulty of the task. But it is a powerful way to cut through the volume of noise that surrounds so many aspects of the climate change debate.

And this is where CRI comes in. It’s first step was to assemble a board of high-profile Australians, who bring diverse backgrounds to the development of a strategy that will help shape the “how’’ of our national climate discussion.

It is chaired by co-founder of Impact Investing Australia Rosemary Addis AM and includes former Federal Liberal leader John Hewson AM, along with trusted leaders such as Professor Brendan Mackey, Ann Sherry AO, Helen Szoke AO, Tony McAvoy SC and Sophia Hamblin Wang. Interestingly, most of them have experience in development challenges and an understanding of the dynamics that have successfully driven multi-lateral international approaches to common problems. And that template could be a valuable tool in helping to guide CRI’s model for collaboration, investment and collective action.

“We feel we’ve convened a board that can help us do it. We feel we have the strategy and tools to do it, which is mostly drafted now. But above all, we feel there is now a real appetite across Australia to participate in strategic, coordinated and just climate action.’’

There is, Sam points out, an important difference in the focus of this approach – it is action-oriented and engages the public, but not activist.
Sam explains what CRI is about: “This initiative is all about preparing now for what comes after commitments, and with increasing global pressure on climate action – we can no longer afford to wait. It’s a societal ‘how’ problem – how are we going to do it?’’

“If we are serious about climate action and securing Australia’s position in a low carbon and climate resilient world, then we need a national platform – a market of sorts – to unlock widespread societal participation and action. In the EU and UK for example, it has been acknowledged for some time now that business, industry, community and the general public will be the ones to deliver climate action, and all manner of social and economic mechanisms have been put in place to help facilitate this. The challenge CRI is taking on is to create that space in Australia, so that we too can play our part in delivering global climate action and ensure we’re not left behind. 

This is where some of the more familiar complexity about the climate discussion starts to appear. Yet Sam is not suggesting that focusing the challenge on the ‘how question’ is simplifying the task. Far from it. What he understands after more than a decade working with governments and in government on a range of climate related policies, initiatives, and strategies, is that there really is value and power attached to looking at the “how question’’.

“Colleagues and I have fielded calls fortnightly over the past few years where partners from all aspects of society are struggling with how to go about climate action. They know that they have to act, they know there is real value in acting, in some cases they even know what they need to do, they just don’t know how to do it,’’ he says.

The certainty that goes with asking that question though is that there is no single “how’’, which highlights the need for greater collaboration and strategy.

“So there isn’t a lack of sentiment or desire in Australia, in fact it’s trending the other way. There’s just a complete absence of enablers to help overcome the ‘how’,’’ Sam says. “And if you address it in one organisation, it’ll be different in another. They are all different ‘hows’, so we need to be thinking big about how we can address them together in a more strategic way, rather than see what falls out the other side in a few years and hope for the best.’’

That’s where the hard thinking comes in and for that, CRI is building a national partnership.

“We want a partnership that is unencumbered in its economic, social and environmental interests in our country,’’ Sam says. “And because we’re serious about building collective leadership, this means we’re not necessarily looking for a [single] philanthropist or industry group. Instead we want several parties, who see the need to start working together on the ‘how’.’’

Sam’s clear commitment to ensure CRI can make progress on the issue is helped by what he sees as the increasingly valuable role universities can play.

“Universities have a unique convening power. We are honest brokers that can be trusted to bring together society to coalesce common interest on challenges like climate action. This is really significant, because once we have a clear common interest on climate action, we have a platform from which we have the opportunity to lower the transaction cost of one-off initiatives and strive towards generating collective impact,’’ he says.

The CRI is expected to formally launch in autumn 2021, when it will release its strategic plan. There have already been extensive discussions with key bodies around the country to help shape the strategy.

In the meantime, the clamour of other voices and other organisations grows louder. And that raises the issue of how to reconcile those different – and sometimes competing – interests around the table.

“No one group is responsible for climate action, it is a societal challenge. Even within single entities that have diverse functions – be they public or private – it’s often unclear who is responsible for what portion of the entity’s climate risk or opportunity,’’ he says.

“So all roads lead to partnership, because no one organisation is going to deliver climate action for their industry, no one industry can deliver it for the economy and the economy alone – albeit important – cannot deliver it for society’’.

The goal is familiar to most Australians who are interested in trying to develop climate action, but the CRI offers a new approach.

“What we all ultimately want is for Australia to be a prosperous, successful and just country in 2030, 2040 and 2050 as the world changes to address the issue of climate change,’’ Sam says. “What we don’t want is Australia to be caught flat-footed and then find itself behind the rest of the world in terms of what society values and how it functions. So, the idea of a climate ready Australia is really a commitment to enabling Australians to work together on building a better future for us all.’’

Republished with permission from Philanthropy Australia. First published as ‘Putting “how” at the centre of the climate debate


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