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Business strategy

Early stage startup founders can get free tickets to Sydney’s Impact X Summit, where Mike Cannon-Brookes & Sir Richard Branson debate how technology will get the world to net zero

- October 29, 2021 3 MIN READ
Sir Richard Branson
As world leaders gather in Glasgow for United Nations COP26 conference, prominent business leaders, and others will be part of the Impact X Summit Sydney on November 2-3.

The two-day virtual conference will feature Atlassian co-CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes, Fortescue Metals Group founder, Dr Andrew Forrest, NSW Treasurer Matt Kean, Australian Ethical CEO John McMurdo, President of the Business Council of Australia, Tim Reed, and Investment NSW CEO Amy Brown. 

The international speakers include Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson, We Mean Business coalition CEO Maria Mendiluce, and Bezos Earth Fund CEO Andrew Steer.

Cannon-Brookes will be in conversation with Branson on Wednesday morning. The Atlassian co-founder was scathing about the Morrison government’s  plan to reach net zero emissions by 2050, released this week. Nearly a third of the plan involves cuts to carbon emissions from yet-to-exist “technology breakthroughs” and “global trends”.

Tony Gourlay, CEO of Blue Impacts, the organisation behind the summit, said the gathering brings together leaders from government, NGOs, Indigenous organisations, and industry sectors, to discuss technology, investment, and collaborative pathways to net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner. 

“Under the Paris Agreement, Australia committed to reduce emissions by 26%-28% below 2005 levels by 2030, a level which is well below that of other OECD nations,” he said.

“While a more ambitious target is expected soon, Australian business and industry will then need an unprecedented level of innovation, transformation and investment to deliver on our commitments. Technology will be key to this.”

The Impact X summit has four key goals:

  • Position NSW & Australia as a world leader in clean energy, decarbonisation & climate resilience
  • Bring Australian technologies to the global climate stage during UN COP26
  • Open new markets for Australian decarbonisation & resilience technologies
  • Produce ideas and commitments around technology, investment and collaboration for accelerating pathways to zero emissions.

Sessions for startups

There are several sessions with a focus on startups tackling climate change on Wednesday, November 3.

They include Phil Morle from Main Sequence Ventures, James Tynan from Squarepeg, Rachel Yang from Giant Leap and Lisa Fedorenko from Alberts Impact on how should impact startup founders prepare for investment.

Ben Hutt from Evergen, Richard Payne from Raygen and Fabian Le Gay Brereton from Gridcognition will discuss how new energy players are they winning.

Gourlay said the summit presenters will dissect the challenges in their particular sector and examine how it can reach net zero.

“Not only will they look at pathways for their own sector, but they will also look at the opportunities,” he said.

“In the built environment not only is access to renewable energy and energy efficient products important, finding solutions to embodied carbon in buildings which can be as high as 62% for some buildings, is also essential.”

Agriculture is also a key focus, with the sector accounting for 15% of Australia’s total emissions in 2019, with 75% due to methane emanating from livestock. Just this week the federal government rejected a global push for Australia to sign up to a plan to reduce methane emissions from agriculture. 

Nonetheless, Australian tech companies such as the CSIRO-backed FutureFeed are working to reduce methane emissions from cattle, swith the support of some of the biggest names in agriculture. 

Tony Gourlay said the summit will also look at the energy-intensive industry and manufacturing sectors. Australia is the world’s largest exporter of iron ore and metallurgical coal with the iron and steel sector accounting for 7% of global emissions.

“With the sector being Australia’s largest contributor to GDP, transition out of coal will be a challenge without investment in new technologies and policy changes,” he said. 

The transport sector discussions will also shine a light on the third largest source of emissions in Australia, with transport accounting for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions.

“Given Australia’s low vehicle emission standards and the lack of infrastructure for electric vehicles, the sector is facing some very big challenges which require policy development and commitments from government,” Gourlay said.

Program details, including the speaker list are available here.

Tickets to the full conference are $399, but M8 Ventures founder Alan Jones has organised limited number of free tickets for early-stage tech startup founders, with the support of AWS Startups.

You can grab those tickets here.