An Australian tech billionaire offers a bold approach to decarbonizing the economy. Mike Cannon-Brookes – the co-founder of software giant Atlassian and the third richest person in Australia, fed up by the government’s inability to handle the climate crisis, has launched a bid to buy the country’s biggest electricity company just to shut its coal-fired power plants.
Mr. Brookes made a $5.7 billion (AUD$8 billion) bid to buy the electricity company AGL in partnership with Canadian asset management firm Brookfield. The energy company owns three of Australia’s 16 coal plants. It is also Australia’s biggest single emitter that is responsible for the whopping 42.2 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions in the year 2019-2020.
If the two partners win the bid, they plan to spend another $14.4 billion (AUD$20 billion) replacing these coal plants with renewable assets like solar, wind and battery infrastructure by 2030.
Some critics say that Cannon-Brookes might not be up to the task of running an electricity company. However, Tim Buckley at Climate Energy Finance – an advisory firm in Sydney, believes that Cannon-Brookes’s tech background could actually come in handy since smart software is increasingly being used to deliver renewable energy more efficiently.
“Mike Cannon-Brookes is the smartest billionaire in Australia and Brookfield is one of the most successful investors in renewable energy in the world, so it’s perfect synergy,” said Mr Buckley.
The bold move by these mega-rich individuals that are stepping in to contribute to one of the real solutions to the climate crisis – to shut coal plants, might inspire other companies and billionaires to do the same. According to Marija Petkovic at Energy Synapse – another advisory firm in Sydney, billionaires are coming in and filling the leadership gap left by the government which is a shame on politicians.