Are Fossil Fuels Bankrupting our Nation?

Thursday 27 March 2014

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Eastern Avenue Auditorium, Eastern Avenue, The University of Sydney


Australia is set to invest over $100 billion in new coal mining developments…who is footing the bill for these projects in Australia?

The Sydney Environment Institute have teamed up with the the global grassroots climate organisation 350.org to present this key Sydney Ideas talk by Ben Caldecott.

Ben Caldecott, founder of Oxford University’s Stranded Assets Programme and author of the recent report Stranded Down Under? Environment-related factors changing China’s demand for coal and what this means for Australian coal assets, sheds light on the ramifications of Australia’s fossil fuel addiction and how individuals can divest in funding this industry.

The world’s top scientists estimate that global temperatures will rise by up to 6 degrees in the next century if we continue to burn fossil fuels at our current rate.

Numerous industrialised nations are taking to the idea of reducing their emissions and shifting the world’s energy system from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Yet Australia is set to invest over AUD 100 billion in new coal mining developments over the next 15 years, including nine mega-mines in the Galilee Basin and the controversial Maules Creek development in NSW’s Leard State Forest.

Who is footing the bill for these projects in Australia? All Australians are, through compulsory superannuation schemes that invest in the expansion of the fossil fuel industry.


Ben Caldecott is Stranded Assets Programme Director and Research Fellow at the University of Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment. Prior to Oxford, he was Head of Policy at investment bank Climate Change Capital where he ran the company’s research centre and advised clients and funds on the development of policy-driven markets. Ben has previously worked as Head of Government Advisory at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, as Research Director for Environment and Energy at the think tank Policy Exchange and as a Deputy Director in the Strategy Directorate of the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change. Ben read economics and specialised in development and China at the University of Cambridge and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He has been a Visiting Scholar at Peking University and a Visiting Fellow at the University of Oxford.

Introduction by Dr John Hewson, former leader of the Liberal Party of Australia and currently chair of The Asset Owners Disclosure Project, an independent not-for-profit global organisation whose objective is to protect members’ retirement savings from the risks posed by climate change by improving the level of disclosure and industry best practice.