News from the front desk: Issue No 356 – on the amazing Christiana Figueres
14 September 2017
Wow, if you read just one story in this great issue (and we trust you will be smart enough to read all our stories) then do yourself a huge favour and read Cameron’s piece on Christiana Figueres.
This woman is on fire. A firebrand of the first order.
We can’t imagine anyone sat through that speech of hers at Sydney Town Hall on Tuesday night and didn’t want to go and storm the barricades (or new wire fence) in Canberra and wrest the levers of power from the clowns who are dominating our daily news feeds.
Reading what this former executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change said in her speech defuses any anger we might have had and changes it to the frustration of waiting until the natural order of progress is restored.
Figueres had the big picture in mind. She was talking about where the world was heading. And where we’re not.
What Figueres said is something we’ve not heard anyone else say: No major metropolitan newspaper, no leading financial newspaper, no radio station, privately or publically owned (but regularly publically flogged) such as our downtrodden abused ABC.
At least not in such a coherent storyline such as she enunciated on Tuesday night.
We are possibly one of the most latently powerful, latently wealthy, and latently influential countries in the world, Figueres says.
Australia is sitting on a gold mine. On “golden eggs” that will be the most sought after resources of the future.
The stuff that goes to create influence and power in a post fossil fuel world: huge land capacity, sun, wind, lithium, cobalt and dysprosium (used in electric vehicles.).
At school, Figueres learnt that it was the ownership of fossil fuels that created wealth and power. And that were the subject of wars.
In the future, it will be what Australia has that will be studied in school.
Around us the world is moving fast.
It’s shifting to clean and green energy and sophisticated technology that ultimately delivers greater savings of resources which we desperately need to keep this planet on some sort of even keel as our populations swell.
It’s what we bang on about in this newspaper on a daily basis – the benefits, the pleasure, the excitement, the sense and the profits of going green.
Yet we sit around cow-towing to coal in a way that is embarrassingly reminiscent of the longing-years that gazed back to the joy of riding on the sheep’s back.
But don’t be angry, be patient and understanding, like Figueres.
Think of these people currently whimpering under the barrel of the coal gun in Canberra as not much more than holograms of our leaders, stuck making soothing noises to the fossil fuellers and telling them, “there, there, it’s fine, you are not dying, you are not in the final death throes. Look, we will buy you that coal fired power station over there. All better now?”
That’s about the level of credibility and impact our leaders currently have. It’s verging on zilch.
As Figueres made clear the world is on a solid trajectory to clean and green. We sit here mollycoddling the has- beens of the world.
It can’t last. It won’t last.
Figueres is understanding, far more than we are. She mentioned that transition is bumpy.
“Obviously there is no perfect transition. All transitions are imperfect, and they certainly are all messy – Australia is specialising in a particularly messy transition.”
It doesn’t have to be that way, she said.
“By addressing climate change what we’re doing is we’re creating new industries, more jobs, we’re saving electricity and water with much more efficient buildings, we’re getting much better transport, we’re getting the new technologies on transport, we’re getting much better waste management, cheaper electricity, we’re doing much better on urban planning.
“We used to think that decarbonising the global economy was actually a huge burden, and a huge responsibility that we had to do whether we like it or not …
“Fortunately, we now know that is not so – that decarbonising the economy is the best vehicle through which to improve the wellbeing of citizens, cities, states and nations.
“This is not a political issue. This is certainly not about personalities. It’s not about turning left or turning right … This is about long-term intergenerational justice. In the short term it’s about dependable electricity that is low cost and low emissions.
“It has to be a systemic approach.”
Phew. What a woman!
AIRAH rules OK
The people at AIRAH are a real favourite of ours: genuine, committed, no fuss, and happy to be out of the limelight down in the plant room, as AIRAH’s Phil Wilkinson so often puts it, doing the most important but often thankless work of keeping our energy consumption and emissions down.
And without whose work, let’s face it, most of our major buildings would be worthless.
So we were totally delighted to be invited to present a keynote speech on Thursday morning to AIRAH’s Future of HVAC conference in Sydney. And completely humbled.
What we did was focus on all the good news that’s going on around in our patch of newsland. Which as we’ve often said, happens to be so often positive and optimistic.
To spend a bit of time pulling together stories of heroic breakthroughs in technology, entrepreneurship and our old favourite the capital markets, though is good therapy for us all.
There are so many people though that are so busy with their own lives and so immersed in keeping their part of the world on track that much of the good news doesn’t reach through with the impact that it should.
One of the questions we fielded from the always-first-with-a-question, Jeff Robinson of Aurecon, was precisely that: how do we spread the message more widely that we are indeed winning this?
Our job is try harder and harder to make and an impact and grow our audience.
One way is with our events.
Such as Tomorrowland event on Tuesday next week (now sold out) and with our next event the Green Rebellion Goes West, to take part in the launch of the Sydney Architecture Festival in fabulous Parramatta.
If you’ve missed out on T’land, come along to the Rebellion. It’s going to be a great lineup. And fantastic uplifting fun.