[SPEECH] Opening Address to the 7th Australasian Emissions Reduction Summit | John Connor, CEO

bradkerin Media Release

Opening Address by John Connor, CEO of the Carbon Market Institute to the 7th Australasian Emissions Reduction Summit, preceeded by the formal Welcome to Country.


Thank you Keith and best wishes to you and fellow Torres Strait Islanders in your struggle in this climate crisis.

In this crisis we are all Islanders, we are all in an ocean of trouble, but also an ocean of opportunity.

Friends, to paraphrase Charles Dickens we live in the most exciting of times, the most frustrating of times and the most terrifying of times.

It is exciting to see a cavalcade of countries, companies and financial institutions committing to net-zero emission or carbon neutrality by 2050 or 2060 in the case of China. There is, albeit slowly, an emerging international architecture of carbon pricing, financial taxonomy and potential carbon border tariff adjustments buttressing these commitments.

Call me a wonk but I did get excited when earlier this year the Government acknowledged Australia has a “robust carbon market.” It is a constant refrain of mine that Australia does have active carbon markets and indeed the climate policy that dare not mention its name – carbon pricing.

The spot market price for Australian carbon credits is around $16 per tonne.  

Here we see some, not enough, purchases from companies making up for emissions over their Safeguard Mechanism facility baselines. Declining those baselines over time remains the best bet for national government policy evolution and guidance for future investments. We noted that the Prime Minister committed to work with others to ‘safeguard’ the planet in his recent speech, I trust there is a stronger Safeguard Mechanism coming soon!

For now the spot market also sees voluntary corporate as well as state and territory governments purchasing of Australian carbon credits as part of, or even all of, their portfolio for carbon neutrality commitments.

Some of that carbon reduction crediting action is happening direct with carbon project developers now worth hundreds of millions of dollars or being purchased by multi-nationals integrating natural climate solutions and technologies within their business plans. Exciting!  

We’ve been pleased to welcome recent practical reforms by the Government to the ERF where the Government has committed over $2 billion at the lastest carbon price just under $16 and plans to invest almost $2 billion more. Reforms to the ERF and Australia’s carbon market have the potential to help scale up our voluntary carbon market by the orders of magnitude necessary.

Internationally it is also exciting to see initiatives such as the Mike Carney led Taskforce for Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets. CMI is on the consultative committee for this Taskforce.

It is particularly exciting to see several multinationals like Microsoft, and Stripe committing to achieve net-negative emissions. These acknowledge that we are already in a climate crisis and that whenever we achieve net-zero emissions we will need negative emission technologies to draw down these gases for decades, if not longer, to Make our Climate Safer again.

I am delighted to announce that we can now include CMI in that list of organisations with a negative emission commitment. Our Climate Active certification, confirmed this week, has a ten per cent top up which we are calling our “climate repair” component.

I like to speak of the task at hand for our generation, here and globally, as being a unique, inclusive but inherently pragmatic task of combining land, climate and history repair – the latter with First Nation peoples wronged for too long.

Climate action can be a solution multiplier, as much as inaction or inadequate action is a threat multiplier.

So I am delighted to confirm today that our 10% + Climate Active certification comes from projects on Tiwi Island through the Aboriginal Carbon Foundation utilising its Core Benefit Verification framework. That framework is but one of the blossoming frameworks in which the employment, Indigenous, environment and other “co-benefits” of climate action and carbon reduction are not just add value to carbon action but measuring and communicating that additional value.

For me, frustration comes from the inaction, inadequate actions, inactivism and active delay still too prevalent.

It comes from those who expect all the action to either come solely from governments or solely from business. The reality is we need to harness all the potential of public and private policy to steer investment towards CMI’s 2050 vision of a climate resilient, prosperous net-zero emissions world.

Frustration for me also comes from those who talk of a low carbon future. There is no future for human civilisation, and much of our treasured environmental assets, unless we transition our economies to net-zero and then negative emissions by mid-century.

We are seeing too many terrifying examples already of the climate crisis, all of which were predicted decades ago. Rising sea levels, increased bushfires and droughts and more severe storms, attacking with increased frequency and ferocity. This terror now has names, faces and places.

The faces of our Torres Strait Islanders of our welcome to country, losing livelihoods and sacred places.

The places of Fiji and our Pacific Island neighbours facing the Russian roulette of increasingly deadly cyclone seasons that can smash in one night a third of national GDP like Cyclone Winston did to Fiji in 2016.

And of course we all know the names of the terror that now visits the Australian mainland – the unprecedented, spiralling megafires, flash floods and raging climate impacts that cost our lives, sever our supply chains and devastate our communities.

Friends, this Summit is an opportunity to reflect on all that is exciting, frustrating and terrifying. It is an opportunity to showcase those “accelerating to zero” as our Summit theme highlights and to urge those who are not, to do so.

For those of you who have been the driving force in Australia’s climate journey for years – welcome back, and for those who are new to this community, we welcome you with open arms.

For those of you who don’t know CMI we are the independent industry association for business leading the transition to net-zero emissions. We have almost a hundred members from across the carbon value chain from carbon project developers to emission intensive industries, visit our booth to find out more!

We’ve designed this Summit to be more of an experience rather than just another webinar – as we have designed past Summits be more an experience than just a conference. I encourage you all to take the time each day to explore the exhibition booths, many of which will host a range of short side events during breaks and before sessions – make sure you visit each booth to see their specific programs and content, and to chat directly with the teams.

We also invite you to connect with other participants via the networking roulette, where you will be paired with another attendee for three minutes. Separately you can connect with other attendees by clicking on the ‘People’ tab on the righthand side, searching for a participant, and inviting them to a private video chat. We can’t replace in-person interactions, but Hopin has provided us with the next best thing – so please take this opportunity to reach out, connect with each other, and start to build the relationships you will need to help you play your part in this great journey.

If you have any questions or issues, please head to the CMI Helpdesk & Membership Centre, located in the Exhibition space. There you can access our Hopin Tutorial, learn how to download the Summit App, and troubleshoot any Hopin questions you might have. Lastly we welcome you to join CMI as a Corporate Member – the benefits of which are also outlined in the Membership Prospectus in this booth.

Thank you once again to all of our sponsors, our CMI members, and all of you attending. We’re excited to share this experience with you, so lets get started.



For media inquiries please contact Clare Price on 0490 252 743 and clare.price@carbonmarketinstittue.org.

The Carbon Market Institute is the independent industry association for business leading the transition to net-zero emissions. CMI has more than 90 corporate members.