John has 30 years’ experience in the Australian and global clean energy and clean technology sectors and now leads Deloitte’s decarbonisation work in Australia. He works extensively with global clients on translating decarbonisation ambitions into practical financial and strategic actions.
John is also Deloitte’s Global Lead for decarbonisation in the Mining and Metals sector, is a member of the global SteerCo for Deloitte’s climate services, the co-founder of the Australian Climate Leaders Coalition and global lead for Deloitte’s work with the World Economic Forum on best practice climate governance for Boards.
John started his career in the oil & gas industry in Scotland and Syria, engineering roles in London and Adelaide and corporate development in the energy sector. In 2007, John established Australian CleanTech, a boutique advisory firm that led the development of the cleantech sector in Australia for a decade.
John is widely published with his most recent book, Stories from 2030, launched at COP26 in Glasgow and setting out practical steps of what is likely to happen locally and globally over the next decade.
Deloitte is the world’s largest consulting company and this presents incredible opportunities and challenges – and in my mind, responsibilities. We are built around attracting some of the brightest minds to come and work with us across every discipline from climate science and economics to AI and organizational psychology. To attract these people to want to join us, we have to provide an environment that is leading the world on both its actions and its influence. Issues that then become top of the agenda in attracting the best thinkers in Australia are diversity and inclusion, first nations, climate and wellbeing so these are all extremely high priorities for the company.
Furthermore, our clients across government, finance and industry are in need of the advice and guidance on how to approach the disruption and transformation that climate will drive so we have a responsibility, and a great opportunity, to provide and guide all of these organisations to build resilience and to adapt to be able to thrive in a low carbon world.
In my role on the global Climate & Sustainability SteerCo and leading much of the work in the local market, the challenges faced by clients are highly varied and complex and it is only through combining the many capabilities that an organisation like Deloitte can muster, that it is possible to deliver the best outcomes. This is our responsibility to provide as best we can and, in the process, we will also build a thriving and sustainable business for ourselves.
We look at this through the same two lens as above – what do we do to ensure our own operations are sustainable and what can we do to help our clients transition.
I lead our internal climate initiatives for AsiaPac that includes driving full value chain Carbon Neutral operations by 2025, procuring offsets and working with our procurement team to start to transform our upstream value chain to become carbon neutral. As part of our offsetting strategy, I am leading the work buying property around Australia to generate our own offsets in close collaboration with our biodiversity experts and our Indigenous Leadership group to demonstrate global best practice. The benefits of this have included increased employee engagement, increasing client engagement as they are keen to understand how we are decarbonising our own operations and improved market perception of Deloitte as a leader in the field.
For clients, we have developed a range of solutions in Australia that are now being used globally by Deloitte teams. The Deloitte Decarbonisation Solutions tools enable companies to set, plan and monitor emissions reduction targets that are aligned to IPCC climate scenarios and to also assess physical climate risk to operations, assets and supply chains. We have also developed detailed techno-economic modelling solutions for hydrogen and bioenergy sectors and are working on many projects where we are helping to develop the commercial strategies to bring development projects to financial close. This has led not only to significant revenue opportunities but the chance to engage with and influence Australia’s leading companies at the most senior level. The enhanced reputation from this also then sets the foundations for additional client work to be secured.
We also spend significant time and effort using our convening power to help create and build the discussion on how to deliver a rapid, equitable, efficient and orderly transition. Helping establish and drive the Climate Leaders Coalition – of which Talent International is a member - , leading the global analysis and thinking around climate damages through Deloitte Access Economics and driving best practice Climate Governance for Boards through the World Economic Forum and the Climate Governance Initiative are all pieces of work that we undertake to help build productive ecosystems that will enable change. The benefits of this have again enhanced our reputation across the business community, led to direct work requests and provided a platform to work collaboratively with like-minded companies.
This is a challenging question for all organisations as it needs to be focused not just on the sustainability teams but on all employees across all functions. How do we help people working in procurement, finance, asset management, operations, engineering, marketing etc. understand the impact that their decisions will have on the outcome for the company and therefore how to make decisions that incorporate climate and sustainability into the thinking.
At Deloitte, we have rolled out globally a training program providing basic information on climate impacts across all of our work to our 400,000 employees. In Australia, we have restructured the business to bring all of the people directly engaged in climate-related work into the same group. This includes the teams that are more focused on pure climate, energy and sustainability work such as my team but also includes Partners from Audit, Tax, Digital, Strategy, Innovation, Transactions and Sustainable Finance. This group of nearly 300 people are now working to deliver end-to-end work to clients and to also educate each other on the different aspects of climate and how we can think more broadly when delivering projects.
The challenge of the sustainability journey is that the pathway forward is not clear and defined. This often leads executives and boards to be reticent to start the journey until they have a comprehensive and clear plan agreed as they would for a major capital expenditure decision and strategy change. However, organisations that wait until it all becomes clear will find that they are moving too late and will then find insurmountable strategic and financial barriers to ensuring they have a thriving organisation.
To manage this complex problem requires leaders to set off on the journey with a clear idea of the end point whilst accepting that the exact pathway is uncertain and will unfold over time. Where this has been done well, companies ensure that they maintain optionality as the technical and commercial pathways emerge and to understand both the trigger points for when decisions need to be made and the signals that will provide guidance as to which pathway they will need to be on to thrive.