Australia: isolated in climate policy, bad for entrepreneurs
November 13, 2014
By Matthew Tukaki
You might be wondering why a website dedicated to entrepreneurship may be taking a pot-shot at two Australian politicians over something that may appear to be as irrelevant as climate change (irrelevant in the sense that some may not draw the connection between entrepreneurship and climate change as readily as we do).
For the Australian Government it began to unfold when China and the United States announced a landmark deal on the sidelines of the recently held APEC gathering in Beijing.
The deal will see both countries working more closely together when it comes to emissions reductions and will see the US cut its 2005 level of carbon emissions by 26-28% ahead of 2025. China’s peak for carbon emissions will hit in 2030 and they will aim to reduce its profile by lifting 20% of its energy from zero carbon sources in that same year.
The Presidents of China and the USA in Beijing - very relevant players
The implications could not be more stark such as a growing buzz around further investment into renewables and cleaner sources of energy. That means infrastructure development will be a winner and there is no better opportunity for start-ups and entrepreneurs to tap into those two markets to assist in the endeavour. China’s problem has been a positive one in sorts – the population are fed up with smog in their cities and the last thing Beijing wants is an uprising on their hands over something as left field as climate change policy.
Keep in mind that worldwide investments into renewable technologies amounted to $214 Billion in 2013 and that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. But, there are also two markets for this sort of entrepreneur or start-up business. The first is in transitioning old energy infrastructure into cleaner forms and the second is the open green-fields markets of Africa and Asia where older infrastructure is less of an issue. Of course, the downstream services market is equally as large with opportunities to skill or cross skill workers (education) through to employment and recruitment companies. In fact, when I was Head of Drake International (the world’s oldest employment company) I toyed with opening a green jobs division back in 2009. The timing was wrong then but oh so right now.
This is where Australia is losing sense of the opportunities. The Government was right to suggest it had a mandate to get rid of the unpopular carbon price but it had nothing to do with whether it was the right framework or not – it had to do with how badly the previous Government had sold the public on the idea and how effective the then Opposition was at opposing it.
The reality is the change in policy under the previous Government began to have the desired effects – an increase in investment in renewables and reductions in consumption. Jobs were being created and new businesses were coming online.
Today, the Government is in danger of becoming irrelevant and taking a profitable future portion of the economy with it. With China moving to renewables there will be less need for Australia coal and the excuse that we just go hunting for other markets belies the problem that we would never be able to replace a drop on volume exports from China. This is where ideaology and conventional thinking have no place in the economy of the future. It is clear that Tony Abbott and even Canada’s Stephen Harper are at risk of becoming irrelevant. They are on the sidelines of a solution based on the mistaken belief that all of this is just a cost impost not a potential revenue earner.
Irrelevant and bumbling: Australian PM Tony Abbott and Environment Minister Greg Hunt
Then there is the poor Australian Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt. He’s actually a very intelligent and well meaning person but he is a toothless platypus in a game of thrones of power in the current Government. We haven’t seen him lead delegations to the major climate change conferences, no that’s the Foreign Minister. Today it was announced that the Foreign Minister would also be leading the delegation to the Paris talks and so it goes. Of course, Australia’s treasurer is quick to pass the buck back to the poor Environment Minister.
When asked what the remodelled cost to the budget would be on ABC Radio he passed the question into the Environment Ministers court who must have been rolling his eyes. Like I said its hard to be relevant in the discussion when you are doing everything you can to make yourself irrelevant.
Meantime, if you’re an investor then you really need to look at those start-ups and entrepreneurs who have a game plan for both China and the United States and if you’re a start-up or entrepreneur then you need to get a game plan going if you haven’t already got one!!
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