Smarter Impact

Sydney Morning Herald Sustainability Summit Summary

September 19, 2020 Philip Bateman Season 1 Episode 67
Smarter Impact
Sydney Morning Herald Sustainability Summit Summary
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Smarter Impact
Sydney Morning Herald Sustainability Summit Summary
Sep 19, 2020 Season 1 Episode 67
Philip Bateman

Join me for a lightning recap through the inaugural Sydney Morning Herald Sustainability Summit, as I cover the Ministerial Address, Apple's roadmap to carbon neutrality and in depth analysis to Climate risk and response, featuring Lisa Davies, editor of the Herald, the Hon. Matt Kean MP, Lisa Jackson, Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives at Apple, and Jonathan Woetzel, Senior Partner at McKinsey and Director McKinsey Global Institute.

Additionally we go into the Panel 'Towards Zero Waste - Solving the Massive plastics, packaging and waste problem', featuring Sandra Martinez, Chief Executive Officer, Nestlé Oceania, Anthony Pratt, Executive Chairman, Visy, Brooke Donnelly, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation, and Gayle Sloan, CEO, Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia, moderated by James Chessell, Executive Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald & The Age.

Wrapping up this recap, we dive into 'Redefining Business as Usual' - a fireside chat on the case for business leadership on climate, featuring Mike Cannon-Brookes, Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Atlassian, moderated by John McDuling, National Business Editor, The Sydney Morening Herald & The Age.

You can find the two part video of this podcast via http://youtube.com/SmarterImpact - and let me know if you enjoyed this format event recap, as I'm focused on bringing you useful insights that inspire positive change in our world. A like, comment and a share means a lot!

The summit was presented by McKinsey & Company, Salesforce and Mastercard, and you can get access to the whole day on-demand at https://www.smhsustainability.com.au/

Thank you to Informa Connect for the media access.

Find more information on the referenced material using the links below:

Apples 2030 Environment plan - https://www.apple.com/environment/
McKinsey Climate Risk Report - https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability/our-insights/climate-risk-and-response-physical-hazards-and-socioeconomic-impacts
Plastic chemical recycling - https://www.iqrenew.com/technology/
National Waste Action Plan - https://www.environment.gov.au/protection/waste-resource-recovery/publications/national-waste-policy-action-plan
Global Steering Group on Impact Investing - https://gsgii.org/
Impact Management Project - https://impactmanagementproject.com/
Harvard Business Impact Weighted Accounts - https://www.hbs.edu/impact-weighted-accounts/Documents/Impact-Weighted-Accounts-Report-2019_preview.pdf
100% Renewable Energy Commitment - RE100 https://www.there100.org/
Australian Energy Market Operator plan AEMO - https://aemo.com.au/en/energy-systems/major-publications/integrated-system-plan-isp/2020-integrated-system-plan-isp
Atlassian - https://www.atlassian.com/

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/SmarterImpact)

Show Notes Transcript

Join me for a lightning recap through the inaugural Sydney Morning Herald Sustainability Summit, as I cover the Ministerial Address, Apple's roadmap to carbon neutrality and in depth analysis to Climate risk and response, featuring Lisa Davies, editor of the Herald, the Hon. Matt Kean MP, Lisa Jackson, Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives at Apple, and Jonathan Woetzel, Senior Partner at McKinsey and Director McKinsey Global Institute.

Additionally we go into the Panel 'Towards Zero Waste - Solving the Massive plastics, packaging and waste problem', featuring Sandra Martinez, Chief Executive Officer, Nestlé Oceania, Anthony Pratt, Executive Chairman, Visy, Brooke Donnelly, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation, and Gayle Sloan, CEO, Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia, moderated by James Chessell, Executive Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald & The Age.

Wrapping up this recap, we dive into 'Redefining Business as Usual' - a fireside chat on the case for business leadership on climate, featuring Mike Cannon-Brookes, Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Atlassian, moderated by John McDuling, National Business Editor, The Sydney Morening Herald & The Age.

You can find the two part video of this podcast via http://youtube.com/SmarterImpact - and let me know if you enjoyed this format event recap, as I'm focused on bringing you useful insights that inspire positive change in our world. A like, comment and a share means a lot!

The summit was presented by McKinsey & Company, Salesforce and Mastercard, and you can get access to the whole day on-demand at https://www.smhsustainability.com.au/

Thank you to Informa Connect for the media access.

Find more information on the referenced material using the links below:

Apples 2030 Environment plan - https://www.apple.com/environment/
McKinsey Climate Risk Report - https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability/our-insights/climate-risk-and-response-physical-hazards-and-socioeconomic-impacts
Plastic chemical recycling - https://www.iqrenew.com/technology/
National Waste Action Plan - https://www.environment.gov.au/protection/waste-resource-recovery/publications/national-waste-policy-action-plan
Global Steering Group on Impact Investing - https://gsgii.org/
Impact Management Project - https://impactmanagementproject.com/
Harvard Business Impact Weighted Accounts - https://www.hbs.edu/impact-weighted-accounts/Documents/Impact-Weighted-Accounts-Report-2019_preview.pdf
100% Renewable Energy Commitment - RE100 https://www.there100.org/
Australian Energy Market Operator plan AEMO - https://aemo.com.au/en/energy-systems/major-publications/integrated-system-plan-isp/2020-integrated-system-plan-isp
Atlassian - https://www.atlassian.com/

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/SmarterImpact)

Greetings, my name is Philip Bateman, I'm the Managing Director of Bravo Charlie and I'm really pleased to bring you this recap of the inaugural Sydney Morning Herald sustainability summit, produced with InformaConnect and sponsored by McKinsey and Company, Salesforce and Mastercard.

Please note whilst I was given a media pass to the summit, these thoughts are my own, this recap and any quotations attributed to names are my best attempt based on my notes, and you find these as part of the LinkedIn article that goes with this video.

The summit was an excellent experience and I believe you'll be able to get the full days recording and more information over at the website, lastly I'd really appreciate if you left a comment, hit like and shared this video so it gets seen by more people, so lets get into it.

Lisa Davies, Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald opened the day, also MC'ing the majority of the conference handing to various colleagues through the panel sessions.

Lisa let us know that during the bushfire crisis, the paper received over 100,000 people contacting them about climate change, and what businesses and government were going to do about it.  

This spurred particularly John McDuling at the Herald to kick off this summit, and the question became evident, "How do we build a sustainable future" and that this was the most pressing imperative of business and politics.

For corporate Australia, prioritising sustainability is a crucial part of future success.

As an aside, the quality of speakers at the summit and their insights demonstrated a remarkable enthusiasm and positive steps towards this future.

The Minister for Energy and Environment of NSW, the Honorable Matt Kean opened the morning as part of the Catalysing action section.

Mr Kean paid tribute to the Herald as a "vibrant and fearless paper of record, challenging authority and telling the stories of our shared lives"

He noted safety and survival were fundamentals required by Australians of their leaders, and he focused in on how to rebound the economy from the deep recession we are finding ourselves in.

He stated that "a half hearted approach to restarting the economy will not work, we're creating a trans-generational debt, and that "what we decide to spend our national wealth on over the next 12 months, will determine the type of environment we endow, and the kind of jobs we have in the future' 

He said that looking through the rear view mirror is an ineffective way to develop policy, and that fear, scaremongering and division have previously driven our nation.

"If we want to repay future generations with interest, we should borrow to start building them a low carbon world, today"

Mr Kean pointed towards the Chief Scientists Report on the Opportunity for NSW in a low carbon-economy, looking to the pillars of green chemicals, hydrogen and agriculture, and therein, the opportunities for carbon sequestration and coordinated renewable energy zones.

To the question "What does a successful, sustainable recovery look like?" the Minister spoke of the Memorandum of Understanding signed with Federal government for $3BN in energy transition.

Throughout the day there was a Q&A option in the conference and I often found the questions asked from attendees drove straight the heart of most discussions, in this instance it was suggested that "NSW had to agree to 70 Petajoules of Gas at Narrabri to get that funding" 

In response to the Ministers plan, I asked (and thanks to Lisa for reading this out to the minister) - is this posed as an adjunct or an alternative to a 'gas led recovery' ?

My main takeaway from his response was the statement that "If you want cheaper electricity for families, renewables are the way forward - as we go forwards, gas will be a white elephant based on the economics"

****

This took us to the Fireside chat and Apple roadmap to carbon neutrality, featuring Lisa Jackson, Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives at Apple

Lisa laid out one of the most inspiring things I've heard, which you could argue is reasonable as the most 2nd profitable company on earth behind Saudi Aramco, though none the less, Apple has gigawatts of new clean energy coming online - they are currently carbon neutral for their corporate emissions, and have committed to bring their entire carbon footprint across business, manufacturing and whole of product life cycle to carbon neutral by 2030.  Which is effectively 8 years away.

To quote Ms Jackson, "These next ten years are absolutely crucial, to be able to say to our children and grand children, we did everything we could to stop catastrophic climate change, that will cause incredible harm, and sadness."

The Apple plan is intending to reduce emissions by 75 percent by 2030, and develop innovative carbon removal solutions for the remaining 25 percent - You can read about it apple.com/environment 

Lisa spoke to businesses being compelled to move due to their customers and employees expectation, and that "Government needs to partner with business, so that customers are not getting passed on the costs of old energy systems" which I thought was a fascinating consideration.

Other notes I have are about the Apple Impact accelerator, which focuses on supporting people of colour, their associated businesses and communities, and seeing them as a stake holder group to be nurtured.  

In answer to "Could Australia be left behind if our Government doesn't get on board.." the answer was quite simply "it's not smart in the future, it's smart right now" 

Tim Cook was quoted as "You don't have to choose between running a successful company and looking after a healthy planet for future generations"

Further, "No one believed you could recycle rare earth materials" so Apple went out and did it so that no one had to say that again.

This leads me to the next session with Dr Jonathan Woetzel, Senior Partner at McKinsey, Director of the McKinsey Global Institute and co-chair of the Urban China initiative, who blended some pretty dire predications with some great one liners, such as "you can tell the pioneers, they are the ones with the arrows in the back" which could fit nicely with Apple at times.

Jonathan took us through the Physical hazards and socioeconomic impacts of climate change, from a report titled Climate Risk and Response, and to be frank as I've been listening to science based analysis summaries for a decade or more, this is the kind of thing that makes me want to leave the city far behind and move to a self-sustaining food commune, on a hill in New Zealand.  

If you're a regular you'll know what's coming, though let's rip through it - 

Firstly scenarios, from managing coastal flooding to collapsing mortgage markets in places such as Florida if homes were to become uninhabitable, India becoming too hot to work, the disruption of rain cycles through Africa and that the worlds 5 breadbaskets are concentrated in areas that are about to undergo significant temperature shifts.

This was overlayed by a look at system thresholds, firstly where the human body suffers lethal heat stroke, Maize crop reproduction collapses when temperate conditions are not maintained, and physical assets such as bridges and other infrastructure disintegrate when exposed to flooding of more than 3 metres.

There was a lot more, though in short, looking to both 2030 and 2050, there are massive changes afoot, and the next decade is decisive.  Also that as insurance is repriced annually, as an industry they are struggling to keep up with a volatile future, which doesn't bode well for those of us that rely on insurance, which I suggest is most of the planet.

****

Towards Zero Waste - A panel on solving the massive plastics, packaging and waste problem

This included Sandra Martinez, CEO of Nestle Oceania, Anthony Pratt, Executive Chairman of Visy, Brooke Donnelly, CEO of the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation, Gayle Sloan, CEO of Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia and moderated by James Chessell, Executive Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age

Right out of the gate, one of our greatest exports, Anthony Pratt led us off with that fact that "There's no excuse not to remanufacture 80% of the waste in a bin, which is cardboard and glass, into a product"

We need to be focused on 'turning glass into glass, and paper into paper or into clean energy, to turn bottles into bottles, or transforming it into a wheelie bin, and only then into clean energy, not into road furnishings'  Mr Pratts talking about taking the least carbon emission intensive option in the hierarchy of waste transformation.

He let us know that landfills emit more CO2 equivalent than all of global aviation, and put it quite simply - "stop putting things in landfill"

If we can halve what goes into landfills, we can also bring back manufacturing to Australia, driven by utilising the inexpensive resource that's in front of us, which we call waste

Anthony said 25 million tonnes of waste going into landfill each year, and Visy use 2 million tonnes of it - that's 23 million tonnes if you're out there and game to make a dent in things.

Sandra from Nestle pointed to the work they were doing with Danial Gallagher and the team at IQRenew, who are trialing collection of soft plastics from 140,000 homes on the NSW Central coast, and then transformation through Chemical Recycling, known as Cat-HTR, a process invented in Australia by Licella, where the plastics are reduced into an oil, which can be used for further fuel, chemical and new plastic production..

Brooke Donnelly of the Aus. Packaging Covenant spoke to problems before and after the bin, and directed folks to the Federal Governments National waste action plan, with the goal being to phase out problematic and unnecessary plastics by 2025, and that all packaging is recyclable or compostable.

The action plan is quite detailed and worth your time, links to everything I'm mentioning are in the video description.

Gayle from the Waste management Association to spoke to the nature of circular economy, that we need a paradigm shift to avoid creation of waste at first instance, and by redesigning products to enable reuse, repair and remanufacture in Australia, there is an opportunity to create 4 times as many jobs in this area than we have now.

I'd cite here that Clean up Australia notes that in 2017 Australia generated 67 million tones of waste, which is half a ton for every person in the country, per year, with 130,000 tonnes of plastic going into our waterways and oceans.

The conversation honed in on the fact that we need to rethink our approach to creation, shifting to reuse and refurbishment - that by looking at sustainable design, we can eliminate products to landfill, rather than focusing on recycling a waste stream.

Who's going to pay for it?  I applaud Anthony Pratts approach here, where I quote him as saying "If you can tear it, we'll take it".

Speaking for myself to you, it's high time we got serious about the fact that externalised cost is ruining our planet, and I'm excited to see the work of Global Steering Group on Impact Investment, the Impact Management Project and the Harvard Business School working towards Impact-Weight Accounts, where they are able to calculate the monetary environmental impact for over 2,000 large companies around the world.

This means consumers are going to be able to see for a companies that makes X billion dollars of profit, they create x billion dollars of environmental impact that the rest of the world, the governments, citizens and other businesses, have to pay for.

*****

If you're in the tech industry, you know who Atlassian are, if you're not, you likely use their products every day, Jira, Confluence, Trello - and may never have never heard of Atlassian - they are an Australian Unicorn, valued at over $50 billion dollars in 2019, and are in something massive like 70% of the Fortune 500 and ASX top 100, Nasa, eBay, Toyota, Coles.

For full disclosure, I spent the past 4 and a half years as a director of marketing and comms for one of their platinum enterprise partners Design Industries, so I may be more of a fan that most.

This brings us to the session with Mike Cannon-Brookes, Atlassian Co-ceo, who is into some remarkable things, my favourites being challenging Elon Musk to get south Australia's big battery happening and more recently, getting behind building the biggest solar farm in Australia in the Northern territory, to supply Singapore with power via an undersea cable.

Mike spoke to the strength of the Australian sustainability community, that outside of Government we were very progressive, with the Business Council Australia calling for net zero by 2050 and over 50% of the ASX signed on to RE100, which is the global initiative to generate 100% of a companies power from renewable sources.

Mike talked to the huge potential for the hydrogen economy in 10-20 years and this being seen as a long term goal for Australia.  Turning to Australia's energy mix and AEMO, the Australian Energy Market Operators integrated systems plan, gas makes up 10% of our mix in the national energy market, so when discussing a 'gas led recovery' and it being a big transition fuel for the next twenty years, this simply isn't the case.

The AEMO plan shows that whilst existing gas infrastructure needs to stay in place, no extra gas power plants are needed.

Mike stated that "if you want the lowest cost of energy, and the quickest transition, gas is not the option." - and when we talk about massive new gas extraction, that's an entirely different proposition.

Putting it quite simply, over the next 20 years "We have to electrify everything, and generate all of that electricity with renewables"

The discussion on batteries and disambiguating them was fascinated, for example that pumped hydro is a battery.

It was put that "rather than being obsessed by batteries, we need to be obsessed by the smart, efficient management of our energy."

Also that one of the great challenges is lobbyists, and that decentralised energy sources are truly democratic, they don't have a paid group of folks walking around Canberra trying to push individual approvals through, basically, the sun doesn't have a lobbyist.

To quote as accurately as I can, "Renewables represent the single best economic growth and strategic advantage for Australia, we can export energy, lower our cost of manufacturing and create jobs, leading to the lowest power price in the world -

we have no shortage of resources and we have the technology to do it.

Right now, with the pandemic crisis, we are in a clear moment of choice as to how we recover our economy - the green and gold recovery, is the best option we have, not only for our hearts, but for our heads"

Mike was asked why this isn't getting through, and he talked to a lack of history, and that to be proactive you require a belief in the future.

He still finds people saying to him 'renewables are expensive' which is simply untrue.

Learning and growth rates have to be considered - where an industry struggles to communicate progress at a government level, it's easy to say 'the person is not hearing you - though how we say it and how we get it across is our problem'

At the start of this section I mentioned the undersea power cable to Singapore, and Mike got talking about intercontinental power grids, and how these are vastly more efficient ways of transporting energy.

He said think about filling a ship with coal, hydrogen or oil, or even if that ship is powered by hydrogen and then sailing it across an ocean, compared to sending power through a cable

Now imagine many, many cables, and imagine the massive economic engine we could create for the northern territory government by turning our land mass into a renewable power generator and export.

Better yet, think about batteries and time zones.

With west to east connectivity, we would need vastly less storage in the global network, as western Australia is 4 hours ahead of a huge amount of population, and we can export and sun power to the 2 or 3 billion people directly north of us.

We have massive space to generate from and an ability to do this.

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So what kind of Covid economic recovery should be all be lobbying for?