Association Webinars: Energy and Climate Change: Are Australia and New Zealand running in opposite directions?



Australia and New Zealand are natural allies with a strong trans-Tasman sense of shared interests (off the rugby field). However, they have very different CO2 emission profiles and distinctly separate approaches to a commitment to net zero domestic CO2 emissions by 2050.

New Zealand is one of the few countries to have a goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 enshrined in law: its Zero Carbon Act that was passed in late 2019 received multi-partisan domestic support. Meanwhile, Australia has been strolling towards some form of ill-defined zero climate policy that is currently the source of vigorous debate within the ruling Liberal/National Party coalition, as the country’s low emissions credentials have come under increasing levels of scrutiny by nations with better defined intentions.

This webinar will focus on how our speakers anticipate future domestic climate change policies and commitments of Australia and New Zealand will evolve following COP26, and what enabling policies will be required to ensure progress towards those goals. The speakers will also give their insights into how business interests and public perception in both countries may pressurise their respective governments into action.


Anthony (Tony) D Owen was Principal Fellow and Head of Energy Economics at the Energy Studies Institute (ESI), National University of Singapore until his retirement in 2018. Prior to joining the ESI Tony was a Professor at the University College London (UCL) School of Energy and Resources, Adelaide, Australia, where he held the Santos Chair in Energy Resources. He has a PhD in Econometrics from the University of Kent (UK) and has held visiting appointments at the Universities of British Columbia, Colorado, Leeds, and Exeter, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (Paris), the UK Department of Energy (Harwell), and the International Energy Agency (Paris). He is a Past President (2004) of the International Association for Energy Economics. Tony was made an Emeritus Professor of UCL in 2013.


Hoesung Lee is Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), elected since October 2015, and Endowed Chair Professor at Korea University Graduate School of Energy and Environment, Seoul, Korea. He is Chair of the Asian Development Bank President’s Advisory Board on Climate Change and Sustainable Development. Lee was the founding president of the Korea Energy Economics Institute -- a government agency for national energy policy development. He was Distinguished Research Fellow at the Korea Environment Institute, senior adviser to the Minister of Energy and Resources and the Minister of Environment, senior fellow at the Korea Development Institute, and economist at Exxon Company USA. He served as the president of the International Association for Energy Economics (IAEE), a member of the International Advisory Board of the Battelle-Pacific Northwest National Lab, USA, the Board of Directors of Hyundai Corporation and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Japan. He served as Vice-Chair of IPCC 2008-2015, and Co-chair of Working Group III of the Second Assessment, lead author and review editor for the various IPCC assessments. He was named to the 2019 TIME 100 Most Influential People in the world. He received the 2020 IAEE Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Profession.

Brian Fisher is currently the Chairman and Managing Director of BAEconomics Pty Ltd. He was previously the Executive Director of the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) and the Professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of Sydney and the Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture at the University. Concurrently with his position at ABARE, in 1993 Brian was appointed one of the experts completing the socioeconomic assessment of climate change for the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Second Assessment Report. He played an integral role in the international climate change negotiations as economic adviser to Australia's negotiating team in the lead up to, and at, the third Conference of the Parties in Kyoto. He again fulfilled that role at the fourth, fifth and sixth Conferences of the Parties of the UNFCCC and was engaged as one of the experts completing the IPCC's Third and Fourth Assessment Reports. In addition to his role in the climate negotiations, Dr Fisher has served as a government advisor and negotiator in the WTO and APEC forums. Brian has been the government board member on a number of statutory corporations and an Associate Commissioner of the Productivity Commission and in 2005 the Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Exports and Infrastructure Taskforce. He was a member of the council of the Australian Institute of Marine Science from 2007 to 2017. He is currently a member of the Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee, the federal government group that oversees Australia’s emissions reduction methods. He holds a PhD in agricultural economics and a DScAgr from the University of Sydney. He has over 290 publications.

Since leaving government service in 2006 Dr Fisher has been in private practice, first in CRA International (a Boston based consulting company), then Concept Economics before starting his own company, BAEconomics Pty Ltd. BAE largely works in the agriculture, mining and resources sectors completing projects across a wide range of industries from economic impact assessments of major projects to the facilitation of discussions between stakeholders in agriculture and mining. From 2008 to 2016 Dr Fisher worked largely as an economic advisor to Rio Tinto covering projects in iron ore, copper, aluminium and bauxite as well as energy minerals. More recently he has concentrated on energy projects and climate policy modelling.

Ralph Sims is Emeritus Professor of Sustainable Energy and Climate Mitigation at Massey University where he has researched renewable energy systems and mitigation technologies for several decades. He chaired the Royal Society of New Zealand panel for the 2016 study Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy for New Zealand and for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has led chapter teams of authors on Energy Supply (2007), Renewable Energy Integration (2011), and Transport (2014). He is a Review Editor for the forthcoming IPCC 6th Assessment Report and from 2006 to 2009 was Senior Researcher in the Renewable Energy Division of the International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris. From 2013 - 2018 he was a member of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel to the Global Environment Facility (GEF, based in Washington D C and linked with UNEP and World Bank) on climate change mitigation. He has been contracted by UN Food and Agricultural Organisation and UNFCCC to lead several projects on “energy-smart food” and “distributed energy” and has consulted for many organisations including OECD, Shell International, Chevron and Meridian Energy.


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