Workshop with Mark Butler, Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy

 

Our friends at Wattwatchers invited SunTenants to join a round table workshop with Mark Butler, Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy.

This was a great opportunity to spend a good number of hours really getting stuck into the issues facing the Australian energy sector, with a particular focus on the challenges and opportunities facing new energy startups.

I must say that I was very impressed by Mark's depth of knowledge about both climate and energy. We are lucky to have (a few) parliamentarians who truly understands true gravity of our climate change challenge and the history of how this it's been mismanaged in the Australian parliament. (Mark's book Climate Wars explores this story in detail).

It was refreshing to hear Mark frame the agenda as being bigger than "coal vs renewables", to include a broader decarbonisation transformation that is linked to a transition towards a decentralised "Internet of Things". This is particularly striking given his familiarity with all the details of the historic debates.

As SunTenants, it was motivating to hear him specifically call out the challenge of empowering rental properties with solar and energy efficiency. It's good to know that all levels of government are aware of the issue!

We also had a great discussion about electric vehicles and battery manufacturing, which are close to home for Mark as the Federal Minister of Port Adelaide - a former car manufacturing center which is now showing signs of becoming a battery manufacturing powerhouse.

I appreciated the optimistic take on the loud debate about policy mechanisms such as the National Energy Guarantee. These debates seem to be increasingly sidelined by the momentum of the economy having broadly accepted that renewables will power the future with businesses making investment decisions accordingly. That said, policy levers can significantly speed up or slow down our transition to a clean energy future, and as Bill McKibben so succinctly put it, winning slowly on climate change is the same as losing.

 
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Bjorn Sturmberg