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Why the Spirit of Australia brings me hope

14 November 2019

This week, extreme bushfires in NSW and Queensland, and the first ever catastrophic fire danger warnings in the Greater Sydney region dominated the news. The impacts of climate change became a major topic of mainstream discussion dominated by polarising and, sometimes downright inappropriate comments.

Meanwhile, Qantas become the first airline in the world to commit to capping its net emissions at 2020 levels, and the second to commit to net zero emissions by 2050.

Most Australians, I’m guessing, probably missed this. But investors noticed and Qantas shares reached a record high.

Should this not offer us all a shining ray of hope?

We’ve seen shareholder activists place unprecedented pressure on major companies during their AGMs this year. Tough questions are being asked about what they are or are not doing to reduce their carbon footprints. Being ‘a bad guy’ is increasingly awkward.

Companies are facing demand-side pressures as well as consumers stop buying certain products or choose alternatives.

Boardrooms across the country are becoming keenly aware that finding new solutions which are both good for business and our planet is key to their ultimate survival because it’s what their investors, employees and customers expect.

This leaves me feeling pretty optimistic. Few companies have the courage to be as public as Qantas has about the extent of their commitments, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t taking action.

As consumers and at work, it’s important to know that the science shows that people only really listen to information that reinforces our beliefs. That means that if you care about climate change you are almost always better off making informed decisions about where you spend your money rather than trying to persuade your colleague or neighbour  to change their point of view.

— Anne Wickham

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