Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest takes aim at politicians who stand in the way of net-zero

Courtney GouldNCA NewsWire
Not Supplied
Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: News Corp Australia

Mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest has taken aim at “hysterical Chicken Little” and “cop-out” politicians who stand in the way of Australia’s transition to the new energy economy.

Addressing the National Press Club, Dr Forrest warned if Australia does not commit to net-zero ahead of a major climate change summit, the stain will last “forever”.

“If we miss declaring carbon neutrality at Cop26, we'll eventually be forced to make it anyway,” he told reporters.

“But by then our markets and our financing will dry up, and the stain that leaves, that we simply didn‘t care, that we ignored our youth, we got the politicians we deserved, will count against us forever.”

Andrew Forrest
Camera IconAndrew “Twiggy” Forrest says a carbon neutrality must be made before Glasgow. PHOTO: MARIE NIRME Credit: News Corp Australia

He said the fact the government has yet to come to an agreement on a net-zero target is an “enormous concern”.

“I’m delighted that all states and territories in Australia have a net zero target … by 2050. But Australia as a nation still does not. And that, for me, is an enormous concern,” Dr Forrest said.

“Today, if I have one message, it’s that a national target of carbon neutrality is regional Australia’s jobs and economic opportunity, but only if Australians trust the good politicians not holding them back and move.”

Speaking directly to “fear mongering” politicians, Dr Forrest urged Prime Minister Scott Morrison to attend the Glasgow summit and for the Nationals MPs to get on board with net-zero as a matter of urgency.

“To the increasingly rare, thankfully, historical politicians fear mongering against choice, pretending to represent us, I just want to remind you – it's taken 50 years for fossil fuel to get the power bills down, and, mate, they’re still going up.

“The fact that they're still selling fear and not selling the huge and now obvious economic opportunity that carbon neutrality presents to our country, mate, get out of the road, is my message.”

Camera IconDr Forrest hit out directly at politicians for their rhetoric around hydrogen. NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage Credit: News Corp Australia

Dr Forrest used his address to promote the uptake of green hydrogen and hit out at the continued effort to sell hydrogen produced with fossil fuels in production as “clean hydrogen”.

“We hear a lot about so-called ‘clean hydrogen’. It’s a sound byte covering the fact it’s made from carbon-emitting fossil fuel. It has carbon all through its supply chain,” he said.

“Having an otherwise astute Energy Minister, Angus Taylor, misled into selling it as ‘clean’. Think ‘clean coal’. Think ‘clean hydrogen’. Think ‘cancer-free tobacco’.

“It all adds up to the same thing – misleading sound bytes put out by industries wishing to continue a duplicitous social licence to operate.”

His speech follows an announcement earlier this week that Dr Forrest’s Fortescue Future Industries would build the world’s largest green energy hydrogen manufacturing facility in Central Queensland.

Qld Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Dr Forrest announced the biggest hydrogen electrolyser plant will be built in Gladstone – Photo William Debois
Camera IconQld Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Dr Forrest announced the biggest hydrogen electrolyser plant will be built in Gladstone – Photo William Debois Credit: Supplied

He acknowledged the part his company plays in emitting emissions, but insisted his iron ore company is committed to making a change.

“The elephant in the room is the heavy emitters – we have to act.”

“The scope for emissions of the top four iron ore companies, the customers of Fortescue, BHP, Vale and Rio Tinto admit, are equivalent to Russia‘s entire national emissions.”

Dr Forrest noted that until green hydrogen and renewable energy comes online, it would be unable to produce green iron ore or steel.

It comes as the Reserve Bank weighed in on the debate over climate change, warning it is a “first order risk” for the financial systems.

RBA deputy governor Guy Debelle said foreign investors are increasingly raising the issue of climate risks and are making adjustments to their portfolios in response.

“So, irrespective of whether we think these adjustments are appropriate or fair, they are happening and we need to take account of that,” Dr Debelle said.

“The material risk is that these forces are going to intensify from here.”

Originally published as Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest takes aim at politicians who stand in the way of net-zero

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