Business People of the Year are Australia’s energy transition leaders

Business People of the Year are Australia’s energy transition leaders

During Ms Wikramanayake’s four years in charge, Australia’s home-grown international investment bank has been repositioned to capitalise on the massive influx of global capital into renewable energy infrastructure.

A big bank and big miner are tackling the transition as a carefully planned corporate strategy.

While advocating for international action on climate change, Ms Wikramanayake has stressed the importance of an “orderly transition” that retains political support by keeping older reliable energy sources such as gas in place until new and affordable ones are online.

At the same time, global scale has been given to Australia’s participation in climate initiatives, especially by putting Macquarie at the centre of financing decarbonisation projects in the emerging nations.

Independent climate leadership

Ms Wikramanayake’s move to get Macquarie in front of the transition – driven by the realisation that investor sentiment in the new world of ESG corporate governance was marching ahead of Australia’s laggard political system – is an example of the independent climate leadership that business has provided.

Hence the other names on this year’s list include BHP CEO Mike Henry for progressing the Big Australian’s transition by finalising its exit from coal, slashing its legacy exposure to fossil fuels by merging its petroleum operations with Woodside Energy, and by fast-tracking BHP’s future-facing commodity plays in potash, copper and other critical energy transition minerals.

A big bank and big miner are tackling the transition as a carefully planned corporate strategy.

Globe-trotters and disruptors

In a different category is the entrepreneurial and globe-trotting flair that Andrew Forrest has brought to catalysing his ambition to make Australia a global green hydrogen powerhouse, after his private company Squadron Energy pulled off the stunning $4 billion acquisition of CWP Renewables to become Australia’s biggest renewable energy player.

Atlassian founder Mike Cannon-Brookes also gets a guernsey for bringing big tech-style disruption to Australia’s decarbonisation timetable by blocking the demerger of Australia’s biggest polluting electricity generator and then by parlaying an 11 per cent holding into successfully nominating four directors to AGL’s board after convincing shareholders to speed up the company’s exit from dirty coal to clean energy.

Far removed from such guerrilla tactics, from the old world of banking, NAB’s Ross McEwan gets a gong, not only for turning around the business banking and mortgage divisions of the perennially underperforming member of the big four, but for holding the line on bankers needing to extend finance to support fossil fuel customers’ decarbonisation plans.

Working both sides of the transition hard is the reason Woodside Energy CEO Meg O’Neill makes the list, after the transaction with BHP created a global top-10-sized oil and gas business with the scale and balance sheet strength to invest in clean energy projects including hydrogen, solar, ammonia and carbon capture and storage, while still investing in the new gas projects vital to secure adequate and reliable global supplies of the critical low-carbon transition fuel.

Yet the future of Australia’s gas industry is now shrouded in sovereign risk due to the Albanese government’s fundamentally anti-gas energy plan. Rather than adding to investment uncertainty, Australia’s political system should be providing the policy and regulatory certainty to support the business leadership that is helping get Australia to the other side of the energy transition, as our business people of the year list acknowledges.

Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Kraken Onion Market