Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes sells economic benefits of green investment with $1.5b pledge

November 23, 2021
Climate Change
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From his home in the New South Wales Southern Highlands, Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes has his eyes firmly focused on the future of regional Australia.

The chief executive of the technology giant not only sees enormous potential of environmental investments — he thinks he knows the best way to sell them.

“The decarbonisation of the planet is the biggest economic opportunity for Australia over the next 20 years,” he told ABC Radio Sydney’s Breakfast program.

“Things like the creation of jobs, improvement in the standard of living and growth of our economy — but we have to make changes to take advantage of that, otherwise it will be taken advantage of by other nations and economies.

“When it becomes a positive economic issue it’s much harder to argue against than when it’s a doing the right thing versus doing the wrong thing issue, which can be subjective.”

He says a “huge proportion” of the benefits of technology to reduce carbon emissions could flow to regional areas such as the Southern Highlands, where he owns multiple properties.

“Often we fall to the city versus regional debate, but this is a boon for regional Australia, and if we can get that message out that will make such a huge change to how this issue is perceived,” Mr Cannon-Brookes said.

$1.5b commitment

Mr Cannon-Brookes and his wife Annie have already invested $1 billion in their effort to reduce the impacts of climate change.

The next sum of money will be invested in companies creating new technology and implementing what has already been invented.

“It won’t all land on one spot — I have a fantastic team and I hope to keep building it up to help me judge what’s best to make a difference,” Mr Cannon-Brookes said.

“There’s a huge array of opportunity from the creation of technology to the deployment, and I tend to focus on deployment because I believe we have most of the technology today to make a huge impact.

‘Not just a government problem’

Mr Cannon-Brookes says governments should be doing more to address climate change, but he has also called on the building and motoring industries to change, as well as individuals.

“As a singular example, we have poor building standards with energy efficiency, and we have poor vehicle standards with fuel efficiency,” he said.

“It’s not a government problem — it’s on government and business and industries and individuals.

He said philanthropists had an important role to play in crossing those boundaries with their investments.

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