From tomorrow, The Power Index counts down the top 10 people driving Australia’s low-carbon economy. Here are the business types, investors, lobbyists and regulators who just missed out — our long list of those who came in 11 to 25 …
11. Anna Rose (co-founder, Australian Youth Climate Coalition)
The enthusiastic AYCC now has 70,000-plus members; Rose took on hardened climate sceptic Nick Minchin for an ABC series, and is now lecturing on leadership at the ANU’s Fenner School of Environment. She was mentioned by most top 10 Power Index names as being influential on the public, and on them. Has cut through with a clear, fairly positive message in plain English. Is politics the next step?
12. Shi Zhengrong (solar king)
This Australian citizen founded pioneering Chinese company Suntech, which has made 25 million solar panels. Shi was once the richest person in mainland China, but Suntech hit fraud problems last year and the company lost value. Dr Shi is still with Suntech, but are his best times behind him? Solar insiders are wondering if he will come back to Australia at some point.
13. Grant King (managing director, Origin Energy)
King, a generating giant since 2000, would have slotted into our top 10 list four or five years ago as his company was a market leader in renewable energy. How times have changed. Insiders say King is now working hard to dismantle the Renewable Energy Target, and Origin’s LNG projects are massive. He still has weighty influence over the policy and business of carbon — but which side is he on?
14. Heather Ridout (member, Climate Change Authority; ClimateWorks board)
A respected business-savvy voice with her finger in many pies, Ridout has been quietly getting involved in carbon — although her influence may wane if the Coalition wins. Other CCA board members are also influential, particularly scientist David Karoly and chair Bernie Fraser (seen as a safe Labor-friendly face without a deep climate background).
15. Lane Crockett (GM, Pacific Hydro Australia)
Crockett and Pacific Hydro (which runs hydro plants and wind farms) are highly active in the clean energy debate; he’s also on the Clean Energy Council board.
16. Mike Fitzpatrick (clean energy investor)
An unusual figure in that he’s doing well investing out of cleantech (the sector has been a wild ride). This investment banker has bought into Carnegie Wave Energy, fuel cells and electric buses. He runs a clean energy investment fund called 88 Ventures (he’s also involved in Rio Tinto). One to watch.
17. Jillian Broadbent (chair, Clean Energy Finance Corporation board; RBA member)
Well-regarded business director who has shaped the $10 billion CEFC (she chaired the expert review on designing it). Her long-running RBA term is up in May. Broadbent wields power behind the scenes rather than in the public debate; she has left to others the task of defending the CEFC in the face of Coalition calls for it to shut down. May lose this role if the Coalition wins.
18. Paul Gilding (adviser and networker)
An interesting ex-Greenpeace figure who has plenty of traction at the board level, both here and overseas. Insiders say business chiefs don’t always act on what he says, but they do listen. Is forward-looking and seen as an “ideas person”. Writes books, gives talks, etc. Likely to be a stayer in climate.
19. Meg McDonald (CEO, Low Carbon Australia)
Long been involved in the sector; was a bureaucrat negotiating the Kyoto Protocol. Has done interesting work on developing finance models to improve energy efficiency, a sleeper issue because it’s seen as a cheap (or even profitable) way of reducing emissions. Labor has promised serious work on energy efficiency; much has been going on behind the scenes. Expect action soon. LCAL is merging with the CEFC, so watch what McDonald does next.
20. Gail Kelly (CEO, Westpac)
Kelly has been active on climate change and has advocated for a carbon price when other bankers left the issue alone. All the big banks talk big on sustainability, and it’s hard to pick a leader. Newsweek gave NAB a great rap for achieving carbon neutrality in 2010 and investing in gas and wind, while Dow Jones gave ANZ a global tick last year, crowning it a “supersector leader” in sustainability for its credit assessment procedures and financing of renewable energy and emissions trading. The big banks’ carbon activities are generally collaborative; few individuals stand out.
21. John Connor (CEO, The Climate Institute)
A solid pair of hands whose advocacy on climate change has been effective. While the institute is seen as Labor-leaning, Connor can get a hearing on the Coalition side too — many advocates struggle to do that. Connor, a lawyer, manages to stay positive and sends a sensible vibe. He’s involved in energy efficiency — watch for progress soon — and liaising between NGOs and government.
22. Chloe Munro (CEO and chair, Clean Energy Regulator)
If you haven’t heard of Munro, that probably means she’s doing a good job. She heads up the country’s carbon cop; implementation of the carbon price has been smooth thanks in part to solid work by the CER, which also polices the RET and the CFI.
23. Miles George (CEO, renewables company Infigen)
Australia has had a solar boom, with the number of home installations soaring due to costs dropping and generous government rebates (most are being wound back). Now the focus is shifting to large solar farms. Infigen is a wind company which is getting into solar farms, and George is its public face (Ingenero is another solar firm to watch).
24. Peter Yu and Joe Morrison (savanna burning pioneers)
Reducing emissions by altering land practices is potentially massive for Australia, and changing the way savanna is burnt across the Top End is part of that. Yu and Morrison are from the North Australia Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance and are working on savanna burning (often done by indigenous peoples). They took their model to the latest United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change talks at Doha. Much attention is being paid to this area. Savanna burning has just been included in the CFI, which opens a revenue stream.
25. Jonathan Jutsen (founder, Energetics consultants)
Energetics has been around a while and is a lead consulting firm on climate; it’s been particularly strong on energy efficiency. Jutsen is experienced and well-regarded.