From denial to delay: moving beyond Australia’s fossil fuel addiction

Why is the Australian Government accelerating the expansion of coal and gas exports as other nations commit to emission reduction targets, and what could our future look like instead?

In the lead-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November, the Australian Government is coming under international pressure for failing to commit to a credible emissions reduction target. The government has instead committed to the accelerated expansion of coal and gas exports. It is pushing for a new subsidy to coal-fired power in the National Electricity Market. It is funding a ‘gas-led recovery’ for the economy as we emerge from the Covid pandemic.

In this panel discussion, leading climate and energy experts will explain where global climate action is heading and why Australia is so out of step. The panel will explore how renewable energy could lead Australia towards a sustainable emissions pathway, breaking the fossil fuel hegemony that controls national climate policy.

This event was presented online on Tuesday 12 October 2021.

Listen to the podcast


Tom Arup is responsible for overseeing programs, advocacy and strategy at the Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC) and the Asia Investor Group on Climate Change (AIGCC), delivering on key projects across Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Tom is also leading on New Zealand policy and membership relations, physical risk and resilience policy and assisting on Asia and Australian climate policy analysis. Tom is a policy and advocacy specialist with 15 years of experience working across journalism and non-government organisations.

Dan Cass is energy policy and regulatory lead at the Australia Institute and an Honorary Associate at the Sydney Environment Institute. He has published research on energy markets reform, renewable energy zones, electric vehicles, demand response, batteries, offshore wind, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and community-owned renewable energy. Dan is a member of the Energy Security Board’s Post-2025 NEM redesign technical working group and the Australian Energy Market Operator’s consultative group on wholesale demand response reform.

Tanya Fiedler (Chair) is a lecturer in the Discipline of Accounting. Tanya’s research is deeply interdisciplinary, her interests concerned with the ways in which engineering, actuarial science and climate science integrate into work practices, business strategy and accounting. Prior to her academic career, Tanya worked as a consultant for Energetics, a specialist carbon and energy consultancy.

Christopher Wright is a Professor of Organisational Studies at the University of Sydney Business School where he teaches and researches business responses to climate change, sustainability and critical understandings of capitalism. He has published extensively on the political economy of climate change, organisational sustainability, corporate political activity and the evolution of climate fictions.

This event is part of the Sydney Environment Institute’s Extraction Series that probes the use, impact and future of gas, coal and lead extraction in Australia at a critical point in our changing climate. This event series is part of the Unsettling Resources research project that investigates the dependence of our energy use and systems on conventional energy and the global shift to renewables. Professor Susan Park, Research Lead on the Unsettling Resources project, will open the event.

Header image: a coal wheel by Christopher Wright.

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