To follow is the second instalment in the Crikey list of concerned climate CEOs, thanks to the concerted efforts of our very concerned readers.

(Note that Crikey cannot guarantee against overlap with a proposed second list to which readers have been asked to contribute, “Who turns a buck from climate change?” (Oct 30, item 7), as concerned CEOs and CEOs who turn a buck from climate change are not mutually exclusive.)

These CEOs aren’t hugging trees, they’re crunching numbers. And unlike politicians, corporations don’t base their forecasts on three year terms – they invest in ten, twenty, thirty year plans. Take the Investor Group on Climate Change, they recently surveyed most of Australia’s and New Zealand’s largest companies – 94% of companies recognised the potential for climate-related issues to affect earnings and liabilities.

This is about dollars and sense – which means global warming has moved beyond the long-haired hippie stereotype. The Stern Review has been compiled by a former chief economist with the World Bank, not a member of the John Butler Trio. Corporations are motivated by profit, not saving the world. Of course there’s an element of marketing in talking up new markets, but the entrants on this list are doing more than just paying lip service to climate change…

Ché Wall, Joint Managing Director of Lincolne Scott: Wall set up Advanced Environmental Concepts – a specialist division of Lincolne Scott – Australia’s first professional practice dedicated to environmental design. Co-founded the Green Building Council of Australia with Maria Atkinson. Chair of the World Green Building Council. The brains behind the environmental features of most of Australia’s greenest buildings, including Melbourne City Council’s Council House 2 (CH2) and 30 The Bond. Under Wall’s initiative, Lincolne Scott became the first Australian business to go 100% climate neutral – the first time an Australian business has offset its entire Asia Pacific operations.

John McFarlane, Chief Executive Officer of ANZ: Recently told The Weekend Australian, “There is clearly a role for the market, for government and for individuals to change the economic thinking on which the current debate is based. We need to move beyond the interests which argue harmful forms of energy are preferable to clean sources of energy on the basis of immediate cost. The argument that the cost of fixing the problem is massive and up-front while the benefits are intangible and well into the future, can no longer go unchallenged.” The ANZ website states: “during 2004 and 2005 we carried out a number of initiatives in support of our objectives and commitments across three main areas: Environmental and social risks and opportunities in lending, Environmental footprint, Industry participation.”

Greg Bourne, CEO WWF: The ex Regional President of BP Australasia told Background Briefing in 2005 that “It is really, really, really well-known amongst all the banks, all of the insurance companies, all of the financial sector, that carbon risk is out there, and that there are opportunities to make money as you go forward…in the end the whole story about money makes the world go round is so true, and when the financial sector get that it needs to go round in certain directions, things change rather quickly.” World Wildlife Fund is working together with other partners to create a policy roadmap to achieve a 60% reduction in emissions by the middle of this century. 

Frank Pegan, CEO Catholic Superannuation Fund: Catholic Super were founding members of the Investor Group on Climate Change (Australia and New Zealand), are supporters of the international Carbon Disclosure Project, have signed up to the new United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment and are incorporating Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) conditions in all new investment mandates. The website states, “As investors of our members’ monies we take into consideration various risks associated with investing long term — our fiduciary responsibilities are to ensure that all risks are considered when investing for the long term which includes the impact of climate change over time.”

Bob Welsh, CEO of VicSuper: VicSuper, one of Australia’s largest superannuation funds, has made sustainability its central operating principle. According to the website, VicSuper was the first superannuation or pension fund in the world to release a sustainability report and is one of only 25 financial institutions worldwide to report in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), and one of only three financial institutions in Australia to do so.” Climate change “is I believe the major long term investment risk to super funds and the major long term business risk to company value,” says Welsh.  

Tim Costello, CEO of World Vision Australia: Speaking to ABC Radio about the need to help our Pacific neighbours work against global warming, Mr Costello said: “This is enlightened self-interest, because there are going to be so many environmental refugees knocking on our door … ” World Vision has been working for many years on projects that promote sustainability. “The crucial point is there are solutions to climate change, solutions that must be implemented within the next ten years if we are to avoid changing the weather on an epic scale and bequeathing our Asia Pacific neighbours to generations of dehumanising poverty,” he told the Herald Sun.   

Shane Oliver, AMP Capital’s Head of Investment Strategy and Chief Economist: “To get a reduction in carbon emissions, you need to put a price on emissions and that’s what carbon trading is attempting to do,” Mr Oliver told The Age. “The bottom line is, the cost of dirty energy will go up in time, which in turn would make cleaner technologies more competitive in the marketplace.” AMP has published papers for investors on how they’ll be affected by climate change policy. On the AMP website Oliver states that climate change can’t be ignored by investors, and outlines business opportunities such as; Investment in cleaner technology energy companies; investment in carbon abatement or carbon capture projects and; investment in companies that have attained a competitive edge by combating any climate change risks they face. 

Greg Paramor, Chairman of Mirvac: Told the Financial Review,
“It’s kinda funny that the corporate world has picked up on this and the government hasn’t…You talk to people in the US and they are searching for opportunities in this area. All of a sudden global warming has hit main street, it’s now a business story.” Established the Australian Sustainable Investments Fund in 2004, which will soon have $450 million in forestry assets. “If you are in the property industry and not interested in this area you have got a serious problem,” he says. “We account for about 40% of Australia’s total emissions.” According to the Mirvac website, the Mirvac and Tenants Environmental Sustainability (MATES) Program provides a “simple tailored solution to reduce Mirvac tenants’ greenhouse emissions.” 

Peter Szental, Chairman of Szencorp: In a written submission to a 2004 Productivity Commission Inquiry into Energy Efficiency, stated, “The very real threat posed by global warming suggest that a national target should be
set that delivers even higher reductions in energy use and greenhouse emissions. As a greenhouse abatement strategy energy efficiency has the lowest overall cost to the economy … every effort should be made to maximise the savings delivered using this strategy.” Szental is listed on the Szencorp website as “President of the Australian Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE), and Director of the Australasian Energy Performance Contracting Association Ltd (AEPCA)…”

Jim McKnoulty, Chairman of Conics: Chairman of Conics, one of Queensland’s leading land management and development consultancies. As Queensland President and National Vice President of Greening Australia, McKnoulty has established links between the development industry and the environment movement working to restore natural environments surrounding Urban Development projects. On the board of Greening Australia’s Rural Futures Fund, a venture capital investment vehicle to promote sustainable farming projects in regional Australia and founding President of The Australian Green Development Forum.  

John White, Chairman, Global Renewables: According to their website, Global Renewables has “integrated a suite of the world’s best commercially proven resource recovery technologies to create the Urban Resource – Reduction, Recovery and Recycling (UR-3R) Process®.” In a 2004 open letter to John Howard and then opposition leader Mark Latham, manufacturing and engineering expert White, along with other signatories, wrote “Australia needs a long-term strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 60% by the middle of this century. This is a huge ask of industry and to deliver on this demand Australia needs and deserves a national energy policy that will create a vision of the future that we want.”

Amendment: Maria Atkinson, an entrant on our first list, is no longer CEO of GBCA – she’s back at Lend Lease.

Peter Fray

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