Mike Roan at the Climate Change Conference
Fresh from the three day Australian Climate Change Conference with Al Gore, Meridian CFO Mike Roan says it’s time to step up.
“I like to think of myself as an eternal optimist. And, as a Dad, I’m conscious of the future our children will face from the actions (and inaction) my generation is responsible for.
If there’s one thing I gained from this conference, it was the absolute clarity of what we must achieve – for our sake and for the sake of our planet. We are incredibly lucky to be at a juncture in time where we can make a difference.
"That’s why I’m calling on us all to step up."
And while that difference might be small, it can change the world if we leverage our voice alongside others. Fortunately, Al shared some very clear steps we all need to take.
First, we need to substantially reduce the amount of carbon being pumped into the atmosphere by 2050. Second, we have to start sucking the carbon that sits up there out of the atmosphere. Right now, we’re looking at trees as the mechanism but over time we’re going to need new technologies to help do that. And that is where ingenuity comes in.
"Our capacity to innovate in the face of threats like this is unparalleled and the journey has already begun."
Most carbon released into the atmosphere globally is produced from three sources: electricity generation, transport and industry. Electricity generation is one that can be solved now economically, and transport and industrial processes shouldn’t be too far behind.
Meridian Energy already generates our electricity from 100% renewable sources like wind, water and sun, but we believe New Zealand as a whole can join the likes of Iceland and become word leaders in transitioning our economy so that it is more directly supported by renewable electricity (as opposed to fossil fuels). And globally, the demand for renewable energy is certainly growing. In 1990, it was projected that by 2010, 30GW of wind generation would be built around the globe. In fact, 20 times that amount was built by 2018. In 2002, it was forecasted that by 2010, 1GW of solar generation would be built per annum when in fact 109GW of solar generation was built in 2018 alone.
However, carbon emissions continue to grow and we have a lot to do to get back to zero net carbon emissions by 2050. But it is possible. We need to make some gutsy decisions.
"We need innovation. And we need everybody to play a role in taking climate action."
And as a final challenge to all the men out there, I had to admit that I was a bit man-shamed at the conference. There is clear evidence that women are the ones leading the charge and demanding change when it comes to tackling this challenge. And I saw some of this with my own eyes - over 65% of the participants at the conference and the majority of speakers were women. Their credibility and expertise was inspiring. I can’t put my finger on why this gender disparity has occurred, but climate action is something we should all be stepping up to, so fellas we need to lift our game.”