By Leon Gettler >>
RENEWABLES and technologies like electric cars can create new businesses, according to Fiona Reynolds, the chief executive officer of London-based PRI (Principles for Responsible Investment).
“The future doesn’t need to be such a terrible thing,” Ms Reynolds told Talking Business. “What are the opportunities? The thing I find in this country is we talk about all the negatives.
“What are the investment opportunities, what are the job opportunities? What are the markets that will open up? What are the things we will be able to export?”
Ms Reynolds cited electric car policies which have been unveiled in Europe years ago.
“If we’re going to have electric vehicles, which will happen around the world, what are the opportunities for Australia?” she asked. “What are the minerals we can sell? What can we be involved in in terms of the parts for cars that have to be delivered? What about the infrastructure that’s required in a big country like Australia if you’re going to have electric vehicles?
“In other parts of the world where this transformation is underway, lots of businesses have flourished around charging stations.
“So at the moment, it might take you 40 minutes to charge your car. So there pops up a café or restaurant so you can have lunch while you’re doing it.
“Good things happen in economic transformations.”
SUSTAINABILITY WITH CAPITAL
PRI is a UN supported organisation created to bring sustainability to capital markets.
PRI works with the largest investors in the world, getting them to incorporate environmental, governance and social factors to their investment processes and the organisation has 2300 signatories representing $US83 trillion in assets.
Signatories include all the big Australian superannuation funds and the overseas pension funds such as Calpers, which have come on board as long term investors.
“Pension funds and super funds invest over long term horizons,” Ms Reynolds said.
“For example, Calpers invests with a 100 year horizon so it has to think about what are all the things happening in the world that will affect my investment.”
She said pension funds are investing in companies are making the transition to a low carbon environment.
Ms Reynolds said the world would decarbonise and Australia needed to be looking at this as an economic issue and driver of new business.
“It doesn’t mean we’re not going to invest in coal tomorrow…but over a longer period, people are not going to be buying coal,” she said.
“Australia needs to be thinking about this.
“For example, Australia has lots of other minerals it can sell the world, it’s not just coal. And we’re not giving up selling coal tomorrow.”
Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness.