Last week the Sydney Environment Institute and the Balanced Enterprise Research Network at the University of Sydney Business School hosted a visit to Australia by world-renowned climate scientist Professor Michael Mann. Professor Mann is Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State, with joint appointments in the Department of Geosciences and the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI). He is also director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center (ESSC).
As many Australian readers will know, ‘energy security’ has become the latest buzzword in government and industry circles. Much of this new focus has been driven by the political fallout following October’s catastrophic storms in South Australia and a state-wide power blackout. In the political recrimination that followed, the Federal Government and some media outlets argued that state government policies favouring renewable energy were (in part) to blame. Both the Prime Minister and the Federal Energy Minister quickly labelled energy security their ‘number one priority’ and established an energy security review to be chaired by the nations’ Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel. Interestingly however, the meaning of the term ‘energy security’ is itself open to multiple interpretations. To a large extent this ‘framing’ of ‘energy security’ reflects a number of developments that are playing out globally in the areas of energy and environmental policy. Continue reading Energy Security: The New Black!
Last Friday evening I was asked to speak at the international launch of Canadian ecosocialist Ian Angus’ new book Facing the Anthropocene: Fossil Capitalism and the Crisis of the Earth System. The transcript of my address is reproduced below (spoiler – I really liked this book!): Continue reading Launch of Facing the Anthropocene
There is a disconnect between ever more alarming scientific projections of anthropogenic climate disruption and the contrasting conservatism of mainstream ‘business as usual’ political discourse. This wholly irrational future is the focus of our new book Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-Destruction (Cambridge University Press, 2015). It is a disjuncture that makes imagining economic, let alone social or environmental futures a somewhat bizarre enterprise. Nevertheless, let’s consider the conventional view of our future world as presented by mainstream business and political commentators. Continue reading Challenging ‘Fossil Fuels Forever’
Bill McKibben has argued that “it’s possible that there’s no greater example of corporate irresponsibility than climate change – I mean, these companies melted the Arctic, and then rushed to drill in the open water. ”
With the recent revelations that oil giant Exxon has known about the likely catastrophic impacts of continued fossil fuel use as far back as 1981, it seems McKibben is spot on in his assessment. After all what could be more immoral and irresponsible than knowingly destroying the habitable climate of the only home we have – planet Earth! Continue reading Panel Discussion on Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations
The University of Sydney Business School recently featured the new book that Daniel Nyberg and I have authored Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-destruction as part of their Research Highlights series. The book is presented as “a sobering yet hopeful account of how corporate myths have slowed our response to human-caused climate change, and what we can do about it.” You can view the PDF of the story here and the video is below.
On Tuesday last week at RMIT in Melbourne, leading public intellectual and La Trobe University Emeritus Professor, Robert Manne launched our new book Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations. We are indebted to Robert for agreeing to launch our book, as he has been one of the most articulate and considered commentators confronting the issue of climate change and its poisoned political legacy.
Robert’s regular analyses of climate politics had a deep impact on my own thinking about the climate crisis. In particular, I remember having started the research that would result in our book back in 2010, reading one of Robert’s insightful analyses of the political impasse over climate change in The Monthly magazine during a trip to Europe. As the train hurtled through the countryside between Frankfurt and Amsterdam, I looked up from the article to see row upon row of wind turbines turning in the late afternoon sunlight; the contrast with fossil fuel addicted Australia couldn’t have been more obvious. Continue reading Robert Manne Launches Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations
In her latest book, This Changes Everything (2014), Canadian writer and activist Naomi Klein argues that unrestrained capitalism is at the root of the climate crisis and that the global response to climate change has, thus far, been shaped by wealth and power.
Earlier in the month I had the chance to speak with Naomi Klein on the eve of her appearance at the Sydney Festival of Dangerous Ideas. The transcript of our discussion is set out below and you can listen to the podcast of our discussion here. Continue reading Naomi Klein talks about Capitalism Vs. the Climate
Earlier in the year I was asked to talk at a Politics in the Pub event on the subject of ‘How Effective Is the Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement in Speeding up Action on Climate Change?’. I shared the stage with Blair Palese, Australian CEO of 350.org, and it was an opportunity to talk about how divestment might contribute to a more effective political response to the climate crisis. Below is an abridged version of my talk and you can view a video of the presentation at the bottom of this post.
On May 1, the Balanced Enterprise Research Network (BERN) at the University of Sydney Business School hosted an event in collaboration with the UN Global Compact, the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and WWF Australia on the Road to Paris and Science Based Targets Initiatives.
This forum launched the initiative ‘Science Based Targets‘ – which aims to encourage businesses to set new, ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets in the run up to the COP21 talks in Paris later this year. Formed as a response to the urgent call by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to decarbonise the economy, the initiative adopts a scientific approach to climate action in line with the latest IPCC report, and highlights the central role that business must play in responding to the climate threat by reducing GHG emissions in line with the best climate science. Continue reading Road to Paris and Science Based Targets Initiatives
Last Monday Greens Leader Christine Milne delivered a landmark speech at the University of Sydney on the next steps for global warming policy around the world and Australia’s role as we approach the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) in Paris this year.
I participated in the event as one of the respondents to Senator Milne’s address and was asked to comment on ‘what role business should play in effective climate change response?’ My response is set out below, but one theme that emerged in the discussion is whether business has an ethical responsibility in its response to climate change? I argue that it does, and this excellent article by David Roberts today highlights the broader way in which climate change is being viewed as a moral imperative and why this frightens those opposed to action on climate change. This an issue business seems unprepared to deal with, but as the climate crisis worsens and its moral implications become more apparent, it is one businesses need to increasingly engage with. Continue reading Climate change as a moral issue for business?
Recently, the Balanced Enterprise Research Network (BERN) at the University of Sydney hosted a visit by Ben Caldecott, Director of the Stranded Assets programme at the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment at the University of Oxford. During his visit, Ben presented a number of very well-attended talks on the issue of fossil fuels as stranded assets and the implications for Australian investments in coal mining. Continue reading Fossil Fuels as Stranded Assets?
The politics of climate change is becoming ever more complex. Just last week in Australia we have witnessed the spectacle of our major political parties voting against moves to prohibit coal and CSG mining on agricultural land; one of the country’s most influential conservative radio commentators supporting a Greens’ politician in her efforts to limit fossil-fuel developments on farming land, and the conservative NSW government approving a massive expansion of coal mining in the Hunter Valley (which will include the relocation of an entire village!). Continue reading The Future of Fossil Fuels in a Climate-Challenged World
Last week, I chaired a Sydney Ideas symposium on “The Biodiversity Crisis: Environmental, Social and Economic Impacts”. This event featured two leading experts on the topic: Professor Lesley Hughes from the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University and the Climate Council, and Professor Manfred Lenzen, head of Sustainability Research in the School of Physics at the University of Sydney. You can view the full video of the event above which features Lesley’s talk “Can Biodiversity Survive the Human Race?” in which she explores the links between unprecedented species decline and climate change, as well as Manfred’s fascinating analysis of the links between global trade, supply chains and species extinction.
The declining diversity of our biological systems has been an on-going feature of human history. As we have developed ever more ingenious and efficient technologies to harness and exploit the natural world, so our impact on nature’s bounty has been crushing. One of the most emblematic examples of this process for me was reading Mark Kurlansky’s marvellous history Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World. Once a bountiful species (so great in number that John Cabot famously proclaimed in the 1490s that men could walk across the backs of cod on the Grand Banks), Atlantic cod were by the 1990s decimated through the introduction of industrial fishing techniques. Indeed, recent human history is littered with similar examples of species decline and extinction as a result of our industry. Reading Elizabeth Kolbert’s recent book The Sixth Extinction, one of the most tragic is the story of the last great auk; powerful flightless birds that were hunted to extinction in the nineteenth century; the last breeding couple killed in an island off Iceland one June evening in 1844.