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Working together for the better of our people, our customers and our communities

Sandra James' Opening Remarks at the AFR Energy & Climate Summit 2022

"I would also like add my welcome and acknowledge and pay my respects to the traditional custodians of the many lands on which we are meeting today, and acknowledge their Elders past, present and emerging.

Deloitte has been a major sponsoring partner of the AFR National Policy Series for a number of years. Each year, this Summit tests and challenges traditional ideas and creates a dialogue on new ways for us to engage on the enormous opportunity and responsibility we have in addressing the energy transition.

The last 12 months however has seen an unprecedented acceleration of policy, economic and structural shifts as Governments, industry and consumers – small and large – embrace the energy transition

Sustainability and net-zero strategies are rapidly becoming cemented as a fundamental part of both the corporate psyche and boardroom plans. We are starting to base our business decisions not just on direct need and cost but on longer-term and more meaningful measures of benefit such as net-zero or lower emissions.

There is a sense of optimism in both industry and the community that we have turned the corner on climate action.  Australia is typically an optimistic nation.

But optimism alone is not enough.

AEMO predicts reaching net zero by 2050 will require coal and gas’ share of electricity generation to fall from 63 per cent to zero.


Sandra James gave the Opening Remarks at the AFR Energy & Climate Summit 2022. Image credit: Oscar Colman, The Australian Financial Review


Over the next 30 years, the amount of electricity produced is forecast to double to meet increasing demand, requiring a ninefold increase in grid-scale wind and solar capacity, a tripling of firming capacity, and an approximate five-fold increase in distributed solar.

Our energy system alone is responsible for almost two-thirds of Australia’s emissions.

With other systems like transport and agribusiness together representing another 30 per cent, the electrification of everything – where the primary energy we use is electricity generated by renewable energy sources – is critical to meet future demand and our climate goals.

So more than optimism, we need confidence. Because these are two very different things. Optimism will encourage us to plan, but confidence will ensure we act.  Action will take committed leadership.

Headwinds are emerging... in the most recent Deloitte CFO Sentiment survey, 75% of CFOs were optimistic about the financial prospects of their companies. When considering recent economic conditions however, net optimism was down – confidence had reduced.

In an uncertain economic environment confidence is critical if we are to undertake positive, substantive and timely action to meet future demand and our climate goals.

We must hold our nerve and stand by our commitment to the transition. Our expectations on ourselves and each other must remain high.

Although grid scale investment in renewables, the increasing penetration of distributed energy resources and the early retirement of fossil fuel generation demonstrate committed action, the energy sector will continue to require the deepest and earliest transition – through new investment and the reallocation of capital.

Deloitte analysis estimates at least $100bn of investment across the energy system in low-emission capital assets is needed over the next 30 years while $25bn of capital must be reallocated away from emissions-intensive assets over the next decade.

But it will be worth it.  And we need to flip the narrative from cost to opportunity.

We estimate that the economic gain of a net zero transformation across sectors could add $890bn to our economy over the next 50 years, although the cumulative social and economic benefits of becoming a superpower in this field would be far greater.

As leaders we must be open and honest in discussing the costs and benefits of this transformation with our people, our customers and communities.  These are big numbers and change will not be achieved without the need to actively engage on how to support those most impacted and in doing so, achieve a ‘just transition’.

We cannot succeed without addressing fundamental inequities, enabling customers and the workforce to support it, and ensuring all impacted workers have a place in the economy as it changes.

We have a collective and individual accountability to act.  We also have the benefit of a history of resilience in the face of challenge and an unprecedented ability to use the energy transition to innovate for the ultimate benefit of all Australians.

Deloitte, is unambiguous in its mission to be Australia’s leading climate and sustainability adviser – leading the way in seeing climate action not as a cost, but an extraordinary possibility for growth.

We do this by being a leading voice, leading by example and leading as one through Deloitte Climate & Sustainability - unambiguously the largest dedicated climate team in Australia. 

The Summit is an opportunity to connect (and reconnect after Covid), discuss and debate the opportunities and challenges of the electrification of everything.

It’s time to turn ambition into action. 

As we think about our call to action on climate over the next two days and what this means for policy, our boardrooms and executive tables, technology, our people and our customers… let’s not just be confident, let’s be bold. 

So welcome to the Summit on behalf of the Deloitte partners and enjoy."