Reception News: News Thursday that Andrew Forest appointed no less than the Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia Guy Debelle as CFO of its giant green energy coin Fortescue Future Industries is another nail in the fossil fuel industry’s coffin.
Forrest accompanied the announcement with a comment that it would “prove that going green has a profitable future for businesses around the world.”
More and more now, we are watching the titans of the industry compete for green leadership and plaudits, as real estate leaders have done in their quest to get greener faster, oh…there a few decades now.
It’s amazing how slow some people are to pick up signals. But once they get the picture, it’s hugely satisfying to watch this highly engaging version of the blocky competition. Keep it up guys! ‘Cause it’s mostly guys – we hear no drumbeat from Australia’s mine queen Gina Rinehart riding the hill to help save mankind. Carn Gina, try the girls too! We need you to carry the women’s flag. It was International Women’s Day this week – a time to rise and shine (not just for yourself; and no, your immense generosity to anthrax apologists won’t be enough.)
If these good (and healing) titans want reassurance on which side of history their legacy will fall, they need only look to Russia’s cruel and devastating war against Ukraine. The only certainty from this is that there will be a rush into renewables, which by their nature will be distributed and secure – and one less blackmail chip than oil and gas behemoths can use to bully others.
Pollination Martin Wilder certainly think so. Check out the interview The Fifth Estate conducted in tandem with Blair Palese, editor of Climate and Capital.
The interview of the Matijn Wilder duo
This style of interview was one we couldn’t wait to try after seeing the awesome tech reporter Kara Swisher do it on Recode, now owned by Vox. Done right, it can create incredible momentum that can really put an interviewee under the arc lamp. Of course (…OK not always good.) Who better to try it then, than one of the most dynamic minds we know in the green space Martijn Wilder of Pollination.
His company, which he co-founded and which regularly collects the city’s top names in its impressive array of talent, recently snatched a $70 million investment from ANZ.
People were already wondering what he was doing with all those hotshots on board. The question now was: what is he going to do with all that money?
Among the series of questions we posed to him was the amusing one, “Is Mark Carney a saint?”, which elicited some amusement from Wilder and a beautifully thought-out response.
The Living Future Institute Colloquium
We also caught up Laura Hamilton-O’Hara chief executive of the Living Future Institute of Australia this week as part of our media partnership for the organization’s annual conference.
It was a very quick conversation as the event continues in Sydney on Friday and she’s busy, but it was long enough to glean some of her favorite insights from the week-long series of panels and keynotes which attracted 175 members. of the public and 51 speakers. .
One of the highlights of the week, she said, was the financial panel, Burwood Brickworks’ The Future Fund with Jane Kern, Senior Director of Impact Finance at Bank Australia; Ryan Rathborne, Co-Head of Property at Clean Energy Finance Corporation; and Danny Almagor of the Little Giants, hosted by Peri MacDonald who is managing director of ARK Capital Funds, where he landed nearly two years after almost 12 years at Frasers Property.
Hamilton-O’Hara loved how the panel noted that the risk/return discourse of finance has shifted from concerns about the premium that must be paid for green investing to the “brown discount” that accompanies investments that are neither sustainable nor resilient.
Almagor challenged the public on the notion of buildings and their importance. We raise families there, we live there, we work there — why shouldn’t they be the best thing possible, Hamilton-O’Hara recalled of Almagor’s comments.
Another quip from Ryan Rathborne sealed the day. When asked how much money people should invest with ESG (environmental social governance) metrics, he said “all of it,” she said.
It was hard to resist catching up with Peri MacDonald following this. Several years ago, when the brickyard was partially complete and he was in charge of the work, we asked him what was the hardest part of striving to meet the Living Building Challenge standard. Unquestionably, he said, the air conditioning.
It’s easy enough to achieve incredible energy efficiency if you work with a sealed box, he said at the time, but try it with a mall that’s purpose-built to be open to the public and inviting.
MacDonald is enjoying his new gig at the helm of this fund specializing in private debt with around $120 million in funds under management, mostly aimed at developers, he told us. But the event at Brickworks was quite “magical”. Mainly because he had stopped looking for flaws in the building and could join in the pleasant surprise of people arriving and finding it hard to believe they were in a mall.
Among his favorite takeaways from the event, he told Us, was the shift from the “big end of town” to “really positive investing.”
“Net Zero users are asking for it and developers are responding and we see great signs.”
Jane Kern, he said, brought good news from the consumer residential mortgage front, with moms and dads “demanding and wanting” green homes.
But the big challenge that emerged from the session was the large action gap in mid-range commercial buildings, where landlords are not meeting green standards and upgrading them to a standard that would attract workers to office. .
MacDonald said the answer must be education and regulation. It was also imperative for the industry to show leadership and share inspiration on “how you can actually generate normal and acceptable returns on investment while achieving incredible results”.
The big end of town has pretty much self-regulated, MacDonald said, primarily because of the competitive element inherent in their business model. But with the long tail of Covid likely to include permanent changes to the way people work, there was a whole new set of challenges for how the real estate industry would respond.
To be fair, MacDonald said Covid probably squeezed 10 years of change into 12 months. You can see the change in retail with online shopping; in commerce, it was about flexible working conditions demanded by calls for more gender equality. Whichever way things go, it’s