Tech billionaire steps up for Australia at Climate Summit
23 September 2019 at 4:33 pm
Atlassian has become the first major Australian company to adopt a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, it was announced during the 2019 UN Climate Summit in New York.
The company’s co-founder, Mike Cannon-Brookes, travelled to the summit on Monday alongside global business leaders and politicians from over 60 countries to demonstrate “concrete” actions to tackle climate change.
The tech giant is the first Australian company to commit to the UN Global Compact’s Business Ambition for 1.5 degrees and the Science-Based Targets initiative. Businesses that commit to the target will be recognised during the summit.
Meeting the 2050 target will require the company to cut emissions by at least 4.2 per cent every year. It builds on a decision it made earlier in the year to adopt 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025.
Cannon-Brookes said in a statement that he had travelled to the summit to wave the Australian flag “because we have a responsibility to act”.
“The world is here to address a burning issue. We know that we have to do our bit to reduce our impact on the planet. If we don’t, we’re cooked,” he said.
“As a nation, we should be leading the charge on this. After all, by the end of this month, our entire capital city and Parliament will be powered by renewable energy – the first outside Europe. That’s an amazing story of opportunity for us to tell.”
Despite being in the United States at the time of the summit, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison did not attend, with Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne and the Australian ambassador for the environment, Patrick Suckling, deployed to go in his place.
Only nations with new climate action plans to announce were allotted speaking spots at the event.
Following Atlassian’s announcement, a report by the world’s leading climate science bodies was released to the summit. It found national targets to cut greenhouse gases would need to be at least tripled or increased around fivefold to align with the 1.5 degree limit as determined by the 2015 Paris Agreement.
“If NDC ambitions are not increased immediately and backed up by action, exceeding the 1.5 degrees goal can no longer be avoided,” the report said.
“If the emissions gap is not closed by 2030, it is very plausible that the goal of a well-below 2 degrees temperature increase is also out of reach.”
The UN Global Compact has around 80 companies signed up to limit carbon emissions to keep warming under 1.5 degrees and a number of companies have committed to zero emissions, including HP, Vodafone, and Singtel.