Andrew Forrest attends roundtable on climate change at ANU

24 Oct 2023

Philanthropist Dr Andrew Forrest AO took time out from a global lecture tour to attend a roundtable on climate change at ANU last week.

Dr Forrest, who has spoken on the tour at top universities in the Netherlands, United States and United Kingdom on business and government's accountability for and responsibility to reduce global warming, had a blunt assessment of where the blame for climate change lies.

"It is not the public's fault. It's my fault," he said. 

"You have the right to drive your kids to school".

At the meeting, hosted by the ANU Institute for Climate, Energy and Disaster Solutions (ICEDS) and attended by almost 20 experts from across the campus, Dr Forrest, the non-executive chairman of Fortescue Metals, argued he is one of "not more than a thousand" individuals to whom the public should look for action. 

He predicted an "ugly" summer ahead and, without action, a future of "lethal humidity", which he had warned world leaders would cause mass migration and geopolitical breakdowns.

Dr Forrest also detailed work Fortescue had done to transition to renewable energy across its operations, moving away from using fossil fuels, urging the public to "look hard" at the companies that were failing to follow suit.

"Hold the other thousand odd people to account like I wish to be held to account by you," he said.

Speaking after the event, where ANU experts shared their perspectives on Dr Forrest's arguments, roundtable moderator Professor Frank Jotzo agreed industry needed to step up.

"Dr Forrest is right to put the spotlight on the pivotal role that heavy industry will play in the transition to net zero emissions. Investments in zero-carbon energy sources, electrification and cutting emissions in industrial supply chains are needed at huge scale," Professor Jotzo of ANU ICEDS and the Crawford School said.

ICEDS Director Professor Mark Howden who hosted the event noted Dr Forrest acknowledged the leading role that ANU and other universities have in providing the research base that assists industry innovation and in framing supportive policy environments and in preparing the skilled workforce needed by his companies, particularly STEM graduates.