Gore's path to zero carbon

Al Gore is a well known name around the world, especially in environmental circles. I was fortunate enough to attend, on behalf of the Union’s Environment Committee, a session with Gore at the Westin Hotel in Sydney recently.

The session, A Path to Zero Carbon, was hosted by superannuation fund HESTA, so there was a focus on long term sustainable investment and growth.

Gore’s argument was persuasive and carefully constructed. He shared a range of statistics and news events from around the world, highlighting the growing dangers of climate change.

This ranged from extreme weather events in places like India and Iran, but also Australia, to increasing temperatures and the economic costs of these.

He connected the ‘rain bombs’ that appear to be becoming more common with the increasing severity and duration of droughts. It was pretty confronting stuff – and the mood in the room was sombre.

However, Gore said these dangers and challenges provide us with opportunities, and they are the kinds of opportunities that super funds may well be interested in.

Gore argued that we need to move past a desire for unfettered growth in economic terms, and instead embrace sustainable growth.”

Gore argued that we need to move past a desire for unfettered growth in economic terms, and instead embrace sustainable growth.

And in this area, he suggests, there are significant opportunities. It is now more cost effective to establish renewable sources of energy than use coal or other fossil fuels.

In fact, Gore argued, this is already happening. Germany has days when they use only green energy. Other countries around the world are embracing these new forms of technology on a domestic and industrial level.

Some of the fastest growing occupations in the US are solar and wind power technicians. And, by virtue of its location and climate, Australia is in a fantastic position to capitalise on this trend – especially with solar energy. Gore argued that it doesn’t make sense not to invest in renewable energy.

The final session was Q and A. There were some thought provoking questions from audience members. In particular, Gore was critical of the decision to develop the Adani mine, and also questioned the utility of having so much of the media in Australia and the US dominated by one owner.

He suggested that the solution might include social media – but he was quick to point out that some platforms, such as Facebook, haven’t lived up to their promise.

Al Gore finished on a hopeful note, reminding everyone that hope is a form of renewable energy!

Keith Heggart
Organiser (on behalf of the IEU Environmental Committee)