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On the 21st of September we co-hosted a panel event with Portable - bringing together 4 panelists who talked to business and carbon emissions.
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This transcript was an auto-generated transcript so some mistakes may be present, please refer to the video recording for exact language, meaning and context. The event was held on 21st September.
Rebecca Smallchua, The Business Pickle: Hello everyone. Feels weird talking to a mic that doesn't actually amplify my voice, but this is for the live stream. Just need to clarify that. Welcome everyone. I'd like to start with acknowledging the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the unceded land on which we meet today; the Wurundjeri people, part of the Kulin Nation. We recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture.
We pay our respect to elders, past and present. And acknowledge the importance of Indigenous knowledge dating back more than 60,000 years and their enduring cultural practices for caring for Country, which we are so grateful to call our home. Always was and always will be Aboriginal land. And this is also why I'll be voting yes.
I just want to thank everyone for giving up your early morning today to take part in this conversation. For those I haven't met yet, I'm Becky, the co-founder of Harvey and The Business Pickle. I'll just be doing some quick little housekeeping. Leave all the intelligent conversation to the brains in the room.
So we'll start with a short presentation and then we'll jump straight into the panel discussion and leave a lot of space for questions. So what we really want to do today is create a really safe place for honest conversation. So we encourage you to yeah. Throw out as many questions as you have.
Because it's not every day that we get to be together in a room with people like this and we are really grateful that we've made this happen. So the event will finish at 10am but we will be hanging around and some of the panellists as well for a little bit after.
We encourage you to stay back. We still have heaps of food and a coffee tab going. It’s not every day that we're all in a room together. So I’d love to continue the conversation. And for those online, Hello. Thanks for tuning in. And a common question we ask is your audio and your videos are disabled. So do not worry. You will not become an unexpected guest speaker in your pyjamas or anything like that.
We encourage you to use the chat function on Zoom. So maybe even jump in now, say hello, let us know what the traditional lands that you're Zooming in from, where you're at in your sustainability journey. And we will definitely be taking questions from you as well. So use the Q & A function on Zoom (not the chat function) to filter through your questions. And if you have any issues, the Zoom host is ‘Portable Events’, which is Madison at the back of the room. He will help you with any tech issues.
So now I get the privilege of introducing my life and business partner. We probably spend way too much time together. Simon is the CEO and co-founder of The Business Pickle and Impact Strategy Consultancy. We have a strong background in marketing and digital transformation and a passion for making the world a better place through business. Simon works with organisations ranging from impact focused entities like Thankyou, B Lab, and Beyond Zero Emissions, who we have in the room (yay, Heidi!) to larger corporations in his previous life, like Jetstar and General Motors. He has a history of leadership in Australia's digital information industry. And together with me, we're on a mission to unlock the potential of the new economy to leave behind a better world for our grandkids.
So over to you.
Simon Smallchua, The Business Pickle:
Hi everyone. So first I want to take pause that this topic, the climate, can be overwhelming.
I find it sometimes quite overwhelming and all hope is lost. So it's important to take pause sometimes and be mindful of your own mental health and those around you when discussing these issues, which can turn into anxiety and stress. So be mindful of that. I focus on the positive and the action that we can take, or I can take as an individual to make my own changes or influence others.
That's what I try to focus on the positive. So first I want to do a little thing and online do a little thumbs up or emoji or say something in the chat, raise your hand if you think that business should take responsibility for their impact. I assume most of you do, ‘cause you're here.
Now keep your hand raised if you think they should do that where they might have a small impact on profit. So there might be an impact on profit. And what about if it's a significant impact on profit, keep your hands raised. Mixed. Cool. Now one final question, raise your hand if you think at your organisation, you can make an impact.
Great. That's awesome. Okay. So that's pretty representative of some research we've done of business leaders mostly in Australia, but also overseas where most people think that the business should take responsibility. A lot of people don't think they can. So you're actually probably more empowered as this group than the average.
Most people don't think they are responsible or they can make change. And that's what we're on a mission to try and change. We want to say you can make a difference in whatever role you have or by influencing others. Let's do this. And one of the biggest barriers that we will have is a lack of alignment on what we should be tackling in an organisation.
So what is the priority all the way up to leadership and down to every employee. What's the challenge? There are 9 planetary boundaries, things like CO2 concentration, the ozone layer ocean acidification, biosphere integrity. Other people in the room will probably be more knowledgeable about those than me.
But I remember the ozone layer back in the nineties, eighties and nineties as a kid. It was like broken. There were all these problems about it. I didn't really get it. I just imagined this big hole in the sky. I don't still don't really get what it is. And I got more sunburn, I think as a result I'm sure other people are more affected than that, like farming and stuff, but it's like nothing was solvable in that case. It just seems so enormous, so big. But there was an agreement put in place called the Montreal protocol in 1987, where they banned CFCs and now looking at the planetary boundary stuff, it's one of the healthier of the nine. So we can do this.
We can turn around a pretty broken thing into a fixed thing. By 2040, it's looking to be fully healed, which is amazing. So go them, us, whoever did that. Because the other six are broken or some, a couple of beyond potentially repair, but we need to work on them. And then the other four out of the six need to be fixed.
But we can do it. I believe I hope that's all I can. I can think personally. The two that are really critical are air pollution and ocean acidification. They're at a point of really at the brink. And then Australia. Why can we, why are we here? We're a tiny little country. We produce 1% of the world's emissions.
So that's tiny in the scheme of things, but as Heidi mentioned this week we can actually influence 7% of global emissions through our supply chain, through our innovation technology and through our influence. So that to me makes it much more motivating. 7% is pretty huge. So we should take that responsibility seriously.
And as a result we should be seeing an economic boom. We should make more money out of it, more jobs, more happiness for all of us. And hopefully for others as well. And then that requires investment. So it's estimated to be about 5. 5% of GDP is required to be invested in this space up until the mid 2050s.
So a lot of money needs to go into it which we know has been mixed in its results. There are some businesses and banks and finances that are leading the charge genuinely and others, you could say, are virtue signalling. But RIAA, who are actually in the room today, released a report, I think this week or very recently, that looked at all the professional investment managers in Australia.
And there has been a shift to more conscious investments. It's still not great. It's still not there. It's still not the vast majority, but it is moving in the right direction. So that's a positive sign. So about $3.3 trillion of Australia's professionally managed funds are said to be being managed by people who are considering responsible investment.
And then a subset of those are actually leaders doing real change. So that's good. It's progress. We're nowhere near Europe and other countries need a lot more to be done. But again, I'm speaking on the positive we're moving forward, hopefully. So today is zero emissions day which we didn't know about until we planned this event and we're now just getting around it.
You may or may not be able to have an impact on carbon emissions directly at the businesses we run. Our direct footprint is tiny. We use the internet and don't do much else. But so you might be able to influence some of the others or influence people in your sphere to, to impact these things in the room and online today, we have a cross section of industries from education and government. Retail. We've got a bunch of consultants. That's a diverse mix of people who are not - most people are not in sustainability focused roles as part of their remit. However, there are some people in the room who are directly doing that, whether they're at organisations who do that or they're in a sustainability role in a larger company.
Connect with each other and learn from each other because we all need to solve this. There were two main things you wanted to get from today. One is what are the challenges and opportunities specific to Australia and our context? And you want to gain actual insights on what you can do to reduce carbon emissions.
So before we get into the panel, we're going to get Aishling to come up and talk about Portable and what they're doing on their environmental strategy, which is something that we worked on together. They set a three year plan with a series of initiatives that they're going to start to roll out.
Portable's background is very focused on social and justice issues. They've been a really big industry changer to improve services for people. And now they're putting their focus on the environment, which I'm really excited about to see what they do. Aishling.
Aishling Costello, Portable: Hello. Good morning.
It is lovely to share this physical space with you all today, but also hello to our online cohort. As you have probably guessed, Simon and Becky know an awful lot about this work. At Portable, our mission is to target areas of social need and policy failure. And as Simon mentioned, we've been working in the social justice space, mental health, death and ageing for quite a while.
And we started to realise there's another part to our mission statement and that's to make transformational change. We become aware of the climate crisis when bushfire season is upon us. And as individuals, and with the leadership of our other senior leadership team, we realised maybe that transformational change needs to extend into the environment system as well. How do we connect our work in the social system with the environment? Sustainability is so big and broad. So Simon reached out to us, I think Christmas Eve, maybe, and said, Hey, you interested in joining a committee? And I think everybody he reached out to was like, yes please.
And so from January onwards, we've been working with Simon, Gillian and Becky at The Business Pickle and Harvey. I think we've asked you every question we can think of from as many perspectives as possible. How, why, when, what, who? And you never tossed us back any curly answers. It was always, let's figure this out together.
The result is the strategy, which you can read up about online. I think what's really important for us is we want to recognize sometimes as individuals, eco anxiety is real. As you mentioned, it can feel a little bit futile. With all of the actions in our strategy, we wanted to understand how the individual action moves us to more healing and reduces the potential for harm for the planet through our work and our actions.
In the strategy, you'll see that mapped out and we wanted to understand what individuals can do and how do we empower employees at Portable or Portobelos. What can we do with our clients in advocacy? And also, what is the impact of all of this in the first place? How does this actually benefit climate action and reduce the potential for harm and increase the potential for healing for the planet?
Because we are all part of this. It's all interconnected. It's social, emotional, environmental. So we've been on this journey together. The result is the strategy. You can read up about it online. The very first initiative that we've been working really hard on is our net 0 emissions target, which is set.
It's online. You've got an article. You can read about it. If you're in this process, if you're asking those many questions from all those perspectives, and you want to chat about any of this with our committee, we've got a few of our committee members online. Deb, Ellie, Emily, Holly. Michael and I'm in the room as well, and I'm joined by some more Portabellos.
Hey, Steph and Andrew, of course. If you have any questions, please do reach out. Thank you.
Simon Smallchua, The Business Pickle: That's great.
Alrighty. So I'll get the panellists to pop up one by one. First Emma. So Emma is a very dynamic CEO and co-founder of Frontrunners. So they're an organisation that works in sport too. Sport and climate action together. She has a very rich tree and athlete led campaign and activism.
And it's a real pillar in that community. So amazing to have you here today. Thank you. Jane Kern is the head of impact management at Bank Australia. Jane. So she has a pivotal role in steering the bank towards a more sustainable future. Brings together strategies, encompassing climate action, biodiversity, and affordable housing, among other things.
Now, Andrew is the CEO and co-founder of Portable as you've heard they're a B Corp and they've been championing social change as you've heard today through innovative, yeah - three of his solutions there. They build tech products and experience design stuff. Especially on mental health, education, and justice.
Andrew's a regular author and publisher around government innovation and workforce design. And has focused Portable as an organisation on impact for quite a few years - 15, 17 years. Thank you. Awesome. And then Laura is the head of experience for Work For Climate. So the background resume at big tech companies like Adobe and Google in 2020 law pivoted her career to focus on the climate crisis with a field fueled by deep seated need of urgency and also parenthood. So yeah, Work For Climate helps climate concerned professionals make change in their organisations. She is also involved in Climate Fresk which I just learned about through this process, which is an organisation that helps educate on climate science. They're a collective of professionals that facilitate workshops and training.
Excellent. Now we'll jump into it. The first thing I want to start with is Net Zero, carbon neutral, carbon offsets, reductions, scope, one, two, three. I don't get it. I don't know if anyone else does. But I just wanted to clarify, we're talking about Zero Emissions Day today. So maybe Jane, if you're happy to start, how would you explain these kinds of terms?
What are Net Zero science-based targets? Can you just unpack it a little bit?
Jane Kern, Bank Australia: Great. Thanks, Simon. Yeah, it can seem like a bit of an overwhelming space to step into, but I think, the really just fundamental concept behind Net Zero is reducing the emissions that you have down absolutely as far as you can.
There are different standards around what Net Zero means, the science-based targets initiative is a good, really good reference point in that respect for general corporate organisations. The science-based target initiative recommends Net Zero criteria that you'd be wanting to reduce your emissions to at least like by at least 90%.
So if you think about what your emissions are today, getting them down by at least 90 percent and then using permanent removal for anything that you can't can't opt for being reduced. We're in the financial sector and what Net Zero means from the science-based targets initiative is still out for consultation at the moment.
So there are, there are general sort of guidelines around what that would mean, but it's an interesting space in terms of we have a Net Zero target where to get to Net Zero by 2035 for our own operations as well as our portfolio. So our financed emissions, the homes that we fund, the buildings that we fund, et cetera, working with them to get down to Net Zero.
We're navigating this space where it's not even 100% clear what that is, but the direction that we need to go in is really clear and working to reduce those emissions. Carbon neutrality is similar, in that it does have a focus on reducing emissions, but it probably doesn't have that end goal of really getting down to Net Zero. That there is a focus on reducing emissions, but then offsetting the rest.
And I think we're seeing a real trend at the moment towards a stronger focus on those emissions reductions and offsetting can be something that companies are choosing to do in the meantime, but really getting those emissions down if you can, in terms of scope, it's a bit jargony, but essentially your Scope 1 emissions are the ones that you have when you burn fuel, for example. So if you have a spoiler and you're heating your with that is your Scope 1 emissions. Or if you're turning on a car that you own, and that's emitting from your tailpipe, that's your Scope 1 emissions. Scope 2 is generally for the electricity that you buy. And regardless of what sector you're in, that's true.
It’s a great place to start. If you haven't done that yet, if you can switch the electricity that you buy to green power to renewable electricity that's a really really good place to start. We started running on 100 percent renewable electricity back in 2019, and that reduced our Scope 2 emissions really dramatically running on emissions there, which is great.
Three depends a bit on your industry, but essentially that's your value chain. So the stuff that you buy. It might be flights or taxi rides. If you produce stuff, it's the emissions that go into the things that you make. For us, as a bank I touched on financed emissions. So that's a really big thing for us.
More than 90 percent of our overall emissions come from the mortgages that we funded at Bank Australia. So that's people's homes and the electricity that they use to heat their home, cook their dinner, that sort of thing. And that's going to have to be a really big focus area for us.
Simon Smallchua, The Business Pickle: Yeah.
Excellent. Thank you. Did anyone else want to comment on these sorts of basic definitions? I think Jane summarised it pretty well. Any, or good? A lot? Yeah. I
Laure Legros, WorkForClimate: I think that was probably the best unpacking of carbon offsets, Net Zero Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions I've ever heard. So well done, Jane.
Thank you. Something that I'll add to that is we hear again, as Jane mentions the terms carbon neutral or Net Zero are being thrown around quite a lot. And sometimes it's hard to understand the difference between it all. Also, when we hear about carbon neutral applied at the product level, or for an event, or for anything else, really, then the way that term has been intended to in the 1st place, which is at the planetary level that term loses a lot of its substance.
I guess when you think about carbon neutral or Net Zero, there is a sort of shift to that I would recommend applying, which is no carbon, no product or no event or no organisation can be carbon neutral in a world that isn't carbon neutral. What we're aiming for here is carbon neutrality or Net Zero at the planetary level.
And companies can only contribute to the global goal of carbon neutrality, which means that they're putting all of their efforts behind Net Zero, and they're aiming for a target. But ultimately, we're all contributing to that global carbon neutrality goal.
So if you're advertising a product as carbon neutral, then I would encourage you to rethink the way that you're communicating around which is something that we're trying, starting to see in other countries where brands are moving away from that concept of carbon neutrality applied to their products. And thinking about it more as a contribution effort.
Simon Smallchua, The Business Pickle: So it's said that we can see economic losses if we don't tackle climate change. The Intergenerational Report found there could be $420 billion in economic losses. I'd love to hear from each of your industries or the people you deal with and maybe I'll jump to you in terms of sport.
What's the potential economic impact of if we don't solve climate change?
Emma Pocock, FrontRunners: Yeah. This is something that we're already seeing in sport. We don't think about it a lot or talk about it a lot yet, but hopefully that's going to change in the next few years. But we've seen from as early as 2007, here in Victoria, three quarters of rural and urban based AFL leagues had their seasons delayed or games cancelled due to the drought.
And we're seeing that rollout year to year based on the extreme weather that we’re experiencing. So now in Queensland, there are thousands of community level it's, who are no longer able to play because their club is uninsurable after successive flooding events. So we're already seeing this kind of thing manifest certainly at the grassroots and we see it at the professional level of sport as well.
During the Black Summer bushfires, we had teams in Canberra where I live have to relocate their pre-seasons to Newcastle because we had the worst air quality in the world. There are really serious implications for sport from those kinds of things around player welfare and having to delay and postpone games around insurance.
Then we also see that impact cascading through. So we'll see, if fixtures have to be changed, what does that mean for broadcast deals? So these are the kind of things that sport is just now starting to grapple with, as we think about what. The long term warming trend and the extreme weather events that we're experiencing is likely to pose to sport.
And from my perspective, the scary thing about that is we mightn't have the capacity to adapt to that at the professional level. But it's a huge challenge for us to adapt to at the grassroots. And, I'm sure many of you in the room have played sport. Maybe you've got kids who play sport. The impacts that has across the community are really dramatic, and I think for something that's such a foundational part of our culture, the fabric of communities it's not just the economic costs, but the social costs that we start to experience if we don't start to manage this better.
Simon Smallchua, The Business Pickle: Yeah. I think I'd never thought of it. It's so tangible. It's air quality.
You can't run around and play footy if you can't breathe. Jane, what do you see in banking and finance as this economic loss that could come?
Jane Kern, Bank Australia: In terms of the financial sector we're moving towards likely having mandatory climate disclosure starting from the next financial year.
And there are really good reasons for that in terms of transparency for people about. Their investments and their money. If you think about the potential risks that you can see from a changing climate I mentioned, we fund a lot of homes for example, and there, there then starts to be questions with natural perils that, that will increase in intensity because of climate change both kind of acute events like fire or flood, as well as more chronic events, like things like heat stress, is it going to be good to live in this place? And will people want to choose to continue to buy properties there? So, for a financial institution, thinking about - as the climate changes, what do these investments that we have made look like? Are they still the same as we had estimated at the time that we made them? And really importantly, do we need to make different decisions going forward?
I think it's really interesting as well, in sort of jargon terms, that's the idea of physical risks. So things that might change because of a changing climate. The other thing for financial institutions to think about is transition risks. So if we do need to make changes because of adapting to climate change and seeking to reduce emissions, what does that mean for different industries?
At Bank Australia we don't fund the fossil fuel industry. So that's not a particular consideration that we need to think about directly, but it is for a lot of financial institutions. And what does lending to or investing in companies that previously had a particular value mean and how will that change?
It is something that we need to think about though. Bank Australia, for example, has a really strong historical presence in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria. There are customers that we have that have been employed in the past at power stations that have shut down, for example, and how does that affect their livelihoods essentially.
So I think yeah, there are a lot of different potential impacts and it's a really important time for the financial sector to be thinking through what both are and building that into planning, as responsible stewards of our customers' money.
Simon Smallchua, The Business Pickle: Great. Could you just elaborate on the carbon disclosure stuff? You mentioned it's happening next year, what does that mean?
Jane Kern, Bank Australia: Yeah. That's an excellent question. No, so the Federal Treasury is going through a consultation process at the moment. So they have put out essentially for consultation, a proposed approach to requiring companies to disclose a range of things on climate.
So including how they are managing and assessing climate related risks and opportunities and what that means for their business. That would mean disclosing Scope 3 emissions as well as the different types of scenarios that you're looking at to plan for the future. Bank Australia is - probably there will be some phases as to which sort of size of companies are required to disclose first.
Bank Australia is - we are small for a financial institution, but big in the scheme of things. So we would be in the set of companies that it looks like will be required to disclose against this from FY25. And there's a phased approach where progressive smaller companies will need to disclose from FY26 and FY27, I believe.
So yeah, it's an interesting time. We've been doing sustainability reporting for a good 17 years or so and slowly building up. And we do already disclose. Our Scope 3 emissions have been stepping into analysing some of that climate risk. We're reasonably well placed, but there is work to do to adapt to these new standards.
And yeah, it's an interesting time for companies to be looking at more. Perhaps I'm going to need to start thinking about and reporting on things that I haven't previously done.
Simon Smallchua, The Business Pickle: Yeah. Yeah. I feel like it's really exciting. Could be a big change.
Jane Kern, Bank Australia: Yeah, it's, I think it's as I said, we've been doing this for a while because it's really important to our business and our brand, and our customers who care really deeply about climate. But having these mandatory rules really means that a really broad range of companies are going to need to report now. And that just starts to make a lot more information transparent, elevate it to the level of boards and senior management needing to care about this sign off on things, and it really disclosed what they're doing.
So it's an exciting time, but yeah the pause that I gave when you asked about what this means, it's like, Oh, actually we will find out probably in the next, in the next few months, what these things are really going to look like, what the changes to the corporations act are going to be, et cetera.
Yeah. Fast moving. And it's interesting. It's as the sustainability professional, you're like, Whoa, we're moving quickly. But then you're like actually when we meet, we need to move this quickly. There's no time yet. So there's always that interesting tension, but I think it's a really exciting time.
Simon Smallchua, The Business Pickle: Andrew, in terms of either your clients and the sectors they work in, or in your own digital and the economic impact…
Andrew Apostola, Portable: I'll talk about the digital agency landscape at agencies. Consultancies are in the news at the moment for all the wrong reasons. If you hear about PwC and Deloitte and what's been happening there over the past few years and more recently, but in our landscape we're an agency, we're downstream. So we're dependent on what other people are doing. We, we service other clients and particularly in government, thank you, talk more broadly about our sector.
And I think I just got back from a conference where a whole bunch of digital agencies came together to meet in Mexico City over the weekend. And what's interesting is I think that there's a sudden realisation that we're accountable for things that we didn't think we're accountable for anymore.
Things are changing that we wouldn't have thought of maybe four or five years ago. So from an experiential kind of lens, like all of a sudden, the way in which brands might communicate, you can think of a very obvious thing across the world, Superbowl ads or or Times Square, and you look at the Watts that go out on those in those experiences and, creative agencies in particular want to create very in-depth, creative experiences that immerse people and often that requires a hell of a lot of energy.
So it's not enough to just simply say, “Hey, yep, cool. We're going to follow the line and pitch this back.” There's a questioning element that needs to be introduced there, which limits the ability to be able to do these full scale things. And that's a very interesting creative challenge. I think the other more like a mundane element, I think maybe not mundane, but just again, less thought about is, we do a lot of work with the government.
We do a lot of work with and agencies to other organisations and everything's hosted somewhere. And I think in the early days, agencies didn't really give much consideration to what that meant to what's just a bit of service space, but it adds up the dollars that are spent now across AWS and as your own and the major platforms out there are enormous.
And so I think agencies are starting to have to think about their tracking monitoring and that's a cost that's an overhead. That's a piece of margin that otherwise wasn't there. I think it's early days for agencies in general, and there's been less pressure for accountability because they're really just looking to clients.
So I think that'll change over the next couple of years.
Laure Legros, WorkForClimate: Just want to take a bit of a step back because Simon, you started your question by talking about the economic impact of climate change and something that I've discovered in the last year is doing a lot of research and exploration.
The topic is the way that we've been measuring the economic impact of climate change over the past 2030 years has been fundamentally biassed because it's been done by a field that is somewhat right from actual science and that's the field of economics and I am not an expert in economics at all. But what I've learned is that essentially what economists have been doing, they've tried to integrate the cost of climate change and therefore comparing the cost of action versus the cost of inaction is that they've forgotten a pretty important element in their calculation, which is the actual impact of climate change.
So just monitor, let that sink for a second. It's basically what they've been saying is if we are measuring the impact of climate change, we are not integrating anything. In terms of the impact on our economy, if the economy happens indoors. So anything that happens indoors is not integrated into most economic calculations of climate change. So it's like saying agriculture might be impacted a little bit, but that's okay because we're going to add more pesticides or we're going to do something to tackle that. But anything that happens indoors, which is most of our economic activity, will not be impacted by climate change.
So that's why you've been seeing models that are used by the highest, most credible institutions in the world, like the IPCC, saying the economic impact of a three degree or three, two degrees warming or three degrees warming is about three or 4 percent of GDP. And that there's just something fundamentally wrong about this.
Now that we are actually rethinking the way that those models are being calculated, what we are finding is that actually, if you think about a two degrees or three degrees scenario of warming, the actual impact on GDP is something more like 40 or 50%. And I don't know exactly what was in that intergenerational report, but basically, all of the, everything that the economists have been telling us about the impact of climate change has been wrong.
I'm not an economist. But I just don't, I have a tendency of not trusting what they've been saying.
Simon Smallchua, The Business Pickle: Yeah. If the planet's on fire I don't think we'll be doing any economic stuff. We'll just try and not get on fire.
Laure Legros, WorkForClimate: So when we say there is no music on a dead planet. It's not just a slogan, it's an actual fact.
Simon Smallchua, The Business Pickle: I want to throw a question from the live stream to Roy. So a few points came up around complexity and lack of clarity on how businesses make a real contribution to Net Zero. So it can be different, difficult from virtue signalling to real change. This is open to anybody.
What are good ways to engage executives? Creating change especially when it often represents an additional cost. Anyone feel like answering that one?
Emma Pocock, FrontRunners: This is something that comes up a lot for us at Frontrunners. We started out our work with athletes on tackling the climate crisis and over the years that's moved into working with sports administrators.
And what we typically find is that at most organisations, there is a group of staff who are really passionate about climate. But usually they're not on the board or in the executive. And so they struggle to get cut through. They'll come up with these incredible plans for their organisations to tackle this, and they often get stymied when they get to the exec level.
And so we took a look around and thought how can we try and tackle this? And so we looked to other parts of the economy that have tackled this and what has often worked is looking at it through a risk lens. And the executive and your board have certain director's duties that are responsibilities to the business that mean that they have to manage risk.
And so it's not always the best way that we want to be talking about climate, there's a lot of great research that says that focusing on the good things that we can be doing is much more, not only inspiring, but also effective at getting people to change their minds. But when it comes to people who are making those tough decisions about the future of the business, risk can be a really great lens through which to deliver that.
And over the last couple of years, we've been doing some really great work mapping out what risks climate change Poses to sport and really looking at it through the lens of legal liability. In our sector, that's, a whole range of really specific things from player welfare and some of those things that I talked about, insurance risk, contract risk, physical infrastructure, but whatever industry you're in, there will be certain risks and potentially certain like quite complex and serious legal liabilities that climate poses to your business.
So sometimes starting there in convincing the people who have the, those decision making powers is the way to go.
Simon Smallchua, The Business Pickle:The fiduciary responsibilities that are changing at a board & director level in Australia with climate being more integrated into that or some of these things, does that relate to these risks or are you aware of how that would have an impact?
Emma Pocock, FrontRunners: Yeah. Jane can maybe, I don't know, speak to that more closely because that tends to be more related to other kinds of organisations than sporting organisations, but there is an element of this that is a director's duty. So at the moment, no. Supporting organisations in Australia include climate in their annual reporting as far as we know, none have climate disclosed as a risk in their risk reporting.
And we know, I outlined some examples of things that have already been happening. One of our great strategic advisors at Frontrunners had to retire prematurely after a massive heat stroke event. She was an international net bowler. So we're already seeing these things happen.
And so it actually creates a massive risk for those businesses not to have considered how they're going to manage that. There's a bunch of sporting organisations in Australia who don't even have adequate heat policies. Leaving climate aside, that seems like a pretty big risk to me.
But yeah, I can't really speak to it in other industries, but in sport, that's how we think about it.
Jane Kern, Bank Australia: I think that's interesting. I think that's really good advice with the risk lens. I think across the financial sector, we're really seeing that, like the idea of the. Climate risk, the threat that could pose to financial stability and then that push for organisations to like assess and disclose and that kind of thing has been massive and transformational.
As I touched on that mandatory climate disclosure that is expected to come into effect over the next few years that is going to mean that boards are signing off on climate disclosures in a way that they haven't before and looking at the financial impacts to their business.
That is really going to shift things. The one thing I would just add is if you are going to be taking this from an opportunity lens, and I think Bank Australia, like our experience has been this hat, we have taken this a lot more from that opportunity lens. It's about, I think the thing that you can do is really think about why it is core to your purpose and your strategy, so for us, we're a customer owned bank. That means each customer has one share. And that we then, try to like customers have formal decision making, they can vote at our AGMs, they vote for board directors, but we do also then try to engage customers to find out a bit more in depth, like how do they want us to set strategy, which social and environmental issues do they care about climate always comes out on top of that.
But then that's a really important lens for us. We do a sample survey with a representative sample of customers, at least every couple of years on these issues, to get some data on what customers care about. And then when we're going to our executive and board to make big decisions, we say this is actually, our customers who own the bank care really deeply about these things. And therefore we think that this is a good idea. So that's the way that we've approached the opportunity side of things is thinking about what's fundamental to the way that you operate. How can this be integrated into the core of your strategy rather than, I suppose, just the nice bolt on thing that a couple of people think would be great to do. I definitely agree. Like I've seen the power of that risk lens. But yeah on the opportunity side, like really thinking about why it's fundamental to what you do.
Andrew Apostola, Portable: Yeah, we're only like 70 to 80 people. So it's very different and we don't have, we're not publicly listed or some of these other organisations aren't for us, I think it's just we were, we operate, we've been one of the early B Corps in Australia. So we've already had that framework existing within our organisation.
And that provides one element is around the environment, but there's a whole bunch of other elements that you focus on as an organisation, maybe in different order when you get started, but that provides an existing kind of framework for us to look at some of the gaps that we had already.
And then that you have that mixture of employees in your organisation, having a whole series of disparate ideas. About what good looks and it's more - I think a lot of people in the audience may be watching online and watching today where you just don't know what good looks like and you don't know what you need to do to satisfy the climate gods that you're doing the right thing.
It's true, right? Like you don't, it's such a new industry. And you could talk to a whole, like five different people about their own individual preference or individual idea. Can be very extreme and that, or very little, and that exists in any organisation. So I think my advice for people that are trying to, in an organisation, trying to get that bubble up, I think it's just cohesion.
I think it's really getting a group together as we said, you're speaking about a people that can talk about and share ideas and have a really clear, cohesive message that can be brought up to management or up to a board level. And with real practicality and openness is the best way to start.
That's from my experience. That's how it happened, how it happened to us.
Simon Smallchua, The Business Pickle: I just wanted to throw it back to the live stream. If anyone has questions or anyone in the room, just pop your hand up. If you have a question on anything we've said so far or anything coming up.
If not, we'll keep going. I might switch to looking at your industry or your sector or even more broad businesses in Australia, maybe overseas, if that's. Have you seen good examples in the last couple of months of businesses taking an active, positive, clear action to reduce their carbon emissions or improve their carbon footprint?
Anyone can start. Maybe Laura, if you wanted to start.
Laure Legros, WorkForClimate: I'll start with an example in Australia. A company that's, operates manufactures a product they worked with their suppliers to install solar panels on the roof of their factories which is something that is tends to be hard to do because they rent the space and therefore they had to really convince the landlord and the manufacturing partner that it was worth doing so they did that and, That wasn't the end goal.
So once they got there, they started looking at what's next, which is, something that I I love the mindset of saying there's no finish line to satisfy the climate gods, as Andrew mentioned. So then they looked at positioning their EVs fleet, their vehicle fleet to EVs. So things that are really practical looking they're a business that sells a product and therefore most of their emissions will come from that scope three. So the value chain. So instead of looking at the things that were directly in their control, they started working with their partners and suppliers, which is something that's incredibly important.
And those scopes three emissions can only come down with collaboration with those suppliers. So I guess, yeah, a local practical example.
Andrew Apostola, Portable: For me, I keep coming back to an org called Reformation. It's in America. It's a fashion brand. And they've just they're, their ability to like track and bring forward their statistics around water consumption and product use is just really second to none.
Like it's really helped to shape. I think the industry was one of the first brands to do that. And I think just because you're working in one industry. You can't, doesn't mean you can't, you should just look at the one industry. If I went and looked at every digital agency around the world, then I'd find very limited scope or inspiration for what I would want to do today.
Not to mention if there's other agencies watching, I'm sure there's great agencies out there that are doing stuff. So I'm sure you're doing a great job. And then what about me? So I think it's really useful to look beyond your industry and look at others like completely disparate other areas and use that for inspiration because again if you're every business is unique and should be unique and your approach can be you can learn different elements or different initiatives from other organisations.
Simon Smallchua, The Business Pickle: Great. Thanks.
Jane Kern, Bank Australia: Yeah, I think one of the things that we look to a lot, so Bank Australia is a member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, and that's a network of around 70 banks around the world that are committed to using the business of banking for good and that, that's a really great network to be able to tap into because you can see people trying different products for personal customers and lending into different sectors and you can look up what they're doing and and.
Thanks. Yeah, connect with people there and I'd actually get under the hood a little bit and ask how they've done it. Bank Australia has a green mortgage product that we've had in the market for a few years and we have some of the banks come to us and ask, Oh, how did you do that?
How does that all work? We're starting to think about what nature positive buildings look like and there aren't a heap of standards around that yet in Australia, then we're looking at that, oh this Swiss bank has this thing. Okay. Let's connect with them and ask you, what do you have in that tool, et cetera.
So I think yeah, that's really exciting. I think just broadly though, in, in our sector and probably touching on what. A couple of a couple of people have said already, just the exciting things are happening in the value chain. So we'd like to think about your scope, three emissions and your impacts of what goes beyond your direct control is, yeah, I think that's where the most impressive things are happening.
So yeah, in the finance sector, that's like products to help customers transform.
Andrew Apostola, Portable: Were you in Vancity a few weeks ago? We do a team with Bank Australia, the Vancouver based. Yeah, I was going to say there's I know that, I know back in Australia looks and there's if there's any examples of good examples that you've had or seen that from other banks that are external.
Jane Kern, Bank Australia: Vancity is a member of that network. I wasn't there a few weeks ago, but we do connect with them reasonably frequently online, particularly around yeah, like they're, I think they're -
A lot of these banks are thinking really holistically about impact and how you're having impact across social and environmental issues - how we categorise that, how you set strategy, et cetera. And yet Vancity is one of our favourite ones to connect with.
Emma Pocock, FrontRunners: In our industry, sports are really at the starting line on this. We've seen in the last couple of years, particularly in the last 12 months three major sports in Australia have appointed sustainability leads, tennis, cricket, and the AFL which is really exciting.
And we've seen a couple of clubs launch their first sustainability action plans. But what we've really seen, I think, is leadership on this and so it's, it doesn't go to your question about what businesses are doing. But we've had just the most phenomenal group of athletes in Australia really decide to take this on.
And that's dragging the rest of the industry to the table, which has been great. And I think it shows what individual leadership really is and can do. So you look at someone like Pat Cummins, who set up a cricket for climate foundation. What you'll hear in the headlines is often, talk about what he thinks about this sponsor or that sponsor and what people don't often see is the incredible work that he's been doing with that foundation to electrify local cricket clubs.
So they've been putting solar and batteries at I think they're up to 15 or 16. Local cricket clubs now, and so thinking through the whole ecosystem of that industry. So not just what's happening at the professional level, not just what cricket Australia is doing or what the state bodies are doing, but what's happening at the grassroots and how do we not just protect the future for them by reducing emissions, but also help those clubs thrive financially.
And so those kinds of things, I think we're starting to see it. And that sort of personal leadership translates to I guess grabbing the attention and maybe waking up some of the people who are in leadership positions within those sports.
And so I think we're starting to see an exciting cascade of action there.
Simon Smallchua, The Business Pickle: Yeah, it leads to another question around advocacy. I often wonder what the impact of talking to the world about the environment is. Doing an event like this, going to a climate rally if you categorise all that as advocacy or whatever how important is that as a tool for businesses or individuals to take in this whole change, or is it just futile and we've gotta get down and do the hard stuff?
Emma Pocock, FrontRunners: I guess it depends on what the scale of the advocacy that you can do is.
We all have the capacity to influence whoever is within our sphere of influence and for sport, that sphere of influence is massive. And so often when I get asked by athletes or my favourite is if a sports administrator ever asked me what they can be doing on climate. What I tend to talk about is not them reducing their emissions because sure sport does have an emissions profile that they need to tackle, but their real power is actually in affecting cultural change. And so the work that sport can do to normalise climate action amongst the broad public is huge. And most of us don't have that power that sport does to reach millions of people.
And so I think for me and the work that I do, advocacy is the most important thing. And the thing we're always trying to get sport to take on is yep. We need to. Help them develop plans to reduce the emissions within their businesses. But the most important thing that they can do is tell that story to their fans and followers.
Simon Smallchua, The Business Pickle: Yeah, cool. Anyone else want to comment on advocacy and its role?
Andrew Apostola, Portable: I was just thinking about it because we took all these different initiatives to like the executive team to look at them. And there's a bit of a debate about advocacy as well. What are we really doing here? And obviously it takes a bit of a whole different approach depending who you are, like, you can be running events and we really thought more about, like, how can we actually do two things? How can we actually make the change internally first as a priority, how can we actually change ourselves? And then how can we have a direct influence on the actual stakeholders that are involved with portables and organisations?
So our employees have a very direct link to how we can help change or persuade people to to take better and more action and then our clients, but yeah, anything beyond that, we just went, Oh, listen, it's just what are we really doing here? Are we really actually making the type or creating the type of change that we want with that, with the energies that we spent?
Does that make sense? It's not to say it's not useful, but I'm trying to reveal just a little bit of our process and our thinking about that when it comes to making decisions around when we actually put out. We've gotta put actually money on the line and resources in the line to do some of these things.
And making those hard decisions meant we're putting other things that may be a little bit more harder or difficult, more to the front of the three year strategy that we have, as opposed to front loading a lot of advocacy work or going out on behalf and speaking. And I'm speaking at an event right now too, so it's ironic.
Simon Smallchua, The Business Pickle: Great. Before we close, we'll come to an end at 10, but I just want to bring one of the online questions through. There's a whole lot of stuff, a really practical one, maybe a one or two word answer to actually elaborate on what would be a charity that's working on climate that you would recommend someone to look at for donation, just the name.
Laure Legros, WorkForClimate: Groundswell is probably the number one in Australia for they're doing incredible work and strategically funding the climate movement. Climate philanthropy is only 1 percent of a whole philanthropy in Australia, and it desperately needs more funding and funding that goes to the right organisation.
And so Groundswell does that job of identifying the organisations that can have the biggest impact.
Andrew Apostola, Portable: I'm going to answer this in a different way through working on our sustainability strategy. We emerged at a point and went, Oh, we don't have an approach to donations that's formalised and consistent with our organisation.
Because what happens is that often you're looking to. Who should we sponsor and names get put forward. You throw a bit of money towards them or through an organisation. And is that really useful? Yeah, a little bit with the cash is good, but how can you make it be more intentional and more long term about your donations? So that you can get behind an organisation that is doing good work to help them fund specific initiatives. So I can't put one forward specifically.
Simon Smallchua, The Business Pickle: I'll do a passing comment. I shouldn't be a host, but Beyond Zero Emissions is one of our clients and who we donated to, and Greening Australia who do a lot of habitat rehabilitation.
Jane Kern, Bank Australia: One organisation that we're really proud to support at Bank Australia is Seed Mob Indigenous Youth Climate Network. I think because Bank Australia's got four priority impact areas, climate is the biggest of those, but also working across nature and biodiversity, reconciliation and affordable and accessible housing and wherever we can, we're looking for intersections between those issues.
And so our climate strategy, we are trying to find ways to learn from the leadership of First Nations. Peoples while advancing the climate conversation and SEAD just does incredible work there.
Emma Pocock, FrontRunners: Since we're in Melbourne and it's the footy final season, I would say Footy For Climate.
Especially if you're looking for an organisation that really straddles that line between advocacy and practical action, they do incredible work galvanising the playing group within the AFL. I think. They've got an incredible track record of quietly getting on and doing the work of organising within their industry.
And now they're starting to do some really amazing work looking at how you actually take practical climate action to the grassroots of footy. Couldn't recommend them more highly.
Simon Smallchua, The Business Pickle: Final closing question, as we wrap up we're here in a year from now, we're doing the same panel event. If you were to reflect on the year, that's just happened.
What has been achieved as a community, in business or Australia? What have we, what's one thing that you're proud of that we've done as a country?
Jane Kern, Bank Australia: I would say electrification. I think this is just. Very much on my mind at the moment. And if I think about the trajectory of an issue, this is something we've been looking at really closely for the last sort of two years in, as part of our Net Zero target setting we largely fund in the built environment.
It's just like electrification. Is it like we are, this is a technology that's ready to go. We don't need to wait for anyone to invent anything. It just needs to be rolled out and a. Very fringe thing to being within a little bubble of quite mainstream now. If I think in a year's time, I think it's a, yeah, something that we'd hopefully have advanced on really well.
“I would say electrification. It’s a technology that's ready to go. We don't need to wait for anyone to invent anything. It just needs to be rolled out. In a year it will hopefully be something that we’ve advanced really well.”
- Jane Kern, Bank Australia
Andrew Apostola, Portable: I can only talk about us. We've got a whole bunch of initiatives. I think the thing we're really interested in as an organisation is carbon offsetting our employees' homes, because the majority of our workforce now, Pre-COVID, was in the office, and post-COVID is external.
Like they're all working from home. And when we're going through this process, we're really talking about I think everyone starts about this, the first place we need to start is like our office. Like, how do we get our offices to reduce carbon? In reality, that's now changed. My biggest input is now coming from the homes of employees.
So I'm really excited. In a year's time, I think I'm going to say that we've been able to do that and have an impact there.
“Currently the thing we're really interested in as an organisation is carbon offsetting our employees' homes, because post-COVID the majority of our workforce now work from home.”
- Andrew Apostola, Portable
Laure Legros, WorkForClimate: I will agree on electrification as the most urgent and practical thing that needs to happen in Australia. But I'll talk a little bit more about the... Mindset shift that needs to happen in Australia. So coming back to the idea that no product event organisation can be carbon neutral. I actually want to move away from the idea of carbon offsetting.
There's so much talk about carbon offsetting and we need offsets in the picture to get us to Net Zero, but their importance is. In terms of the order of magnitude, 90 percent of the focus should be on reducing emissions. 10 percent should be on offsets. So I think in the way that organisation thinks about getting to Net Zero, I'd love to encourage everyone of them to think beyond just the.
Trio of measure, reduce offsets and think about what it means to go beyond that and contribute to global Net Zero. So I'd love it if in one year's time, we were at a point in Australia where we didn't see all these organisations going out in markets with carbon neutrality claims and the idea of offsetting your employees' carbon footprint.
Is great and every employee should think about that, but I think it's putting back on the individual to be acting. And what we need right now is a huge seismic shift in the way that we think about. Reductions versus offset, so let's put offsets on the side. They're important. It's happening, but yeah, let's think about reducing emissions.
“What we need right now is a seismic shift in the way that we think about reductions versus offsets. I’d like to see 90% of the focus on reducing emissions and 10% on offsetting them.”
- Laure Legros, WorkForClimate
Simon Smallchua, The Business Pickle: Thank you.
Emma Pocock, FrontRunners: I guess the gear shift, but following on what Laura said about a big kind of seismic shift. One of the things we're still seeing is federal approvals of coal and gas projects which we can all in our business do as much as we can, but we know that the things that are driving climate change are the burning of coal, oil and gas and ongoing deforestation.
And in Australia, we're the third biggest exporter of fossil fuels. So we have a really serious challenge here. And one of the big problems is that there currently aren't that many mechanisms for the federal environment minister to decline those extensions and expansions. And so what we really need is policy change.
One of the things that you can all do today is go and sign up to support a bill that's before the federal parliament to enshrine a duty of care to future generations into our law, which would give the federal environment minister and the climate change, the climate minister. Thank you. The possibility of declining those expansions.
So if you go to adutyofcare.com, you can sign up to show your support for that piece of legislation that's before the Senate at the moment. If your business wants to make a submission, the Senate inquiry is taking submissions at the moment, because if we don't turn off the fossil fuels that Australia is exporting, we don't stand a chance of keeping it below two degrees.
“Australia is the third biggest exporter of fossil fuels. And one of the big problems is that there currently aren't that many mechanisms for the Minister for the Environment to decline those expansions. What we really need is policy change.”
- Emma Pocock, FrontRunners
Simon Smallchua, The Business Pickle: Fantastic ending action. Thanks.
Rebecca Smallchua, The Business Pickle: Thank you. Yeah this brings us to the end of the formal event. Please stay around if you don't have to rush off. We'd love to keep the conversation going. We'll be here for a little bit. Still plenty of food and the coffee tab going. But yeah, one just reflecting on that one statement that law said that yeah.
I'm just encouraged by this and it can feel so overwhelming and scary, really, when you look at the facts and you feel like change is not happening quick enough, but I'm just encouraged by the momentum that's growing the community that we have. So even the fact that today you've all decided to show up here, you've given up your time.
We've had over a hundred people on the live stream who care. And I think we can rally together and make all these small changes and hopefully see a lot of the things that we shared about what next year looks like. If we all come back together again and yeah, let's. Save our planet for our grandkids.
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