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[Episode #115] – Wildfire and Transition in Australia

Australia’s out-of-control wildfires in recent months have captured the world’s attention and raised serious questions about how climate change is affecting the continent, whether the country’s leadership is taking appropriate action to address climate risk, and what the future holds for its unique weather patterns and ecosystem.

But Australia is one of the most fossil-fuel dependent countries in the world, which makes it politically difficult to face the reality of its climate risk, and how its own activities are increasing that risk. So in this episode we invited a longtime journalist and researcher, based in Sydney, who works in research, strategy, and communications around climate change and finance, to help us understand the political, economic, and climate context of Australia at this moment, and to understand how the wildfires are influencing the trajectory of energy transition there. She reveals a country delicately balanced somewhere between hope and despair, with political leadership in thrall to the fossil fuel industry, and a populace eager to pursue energy transition and reduce its exposure to climate risk.


Kate Mackenzie is a former Financial Times journalist who now works in research, strategy, communications around climate change and finance. Previously, she worked at The Climate Institute, a non-partisan think tank, and at Climate-KIC Australia, an innovation-focused partnership between the research, corporate, NGO and government sectors. A particular focus of her Australian work has involved close collaboration with the scientific and adaptation communities in studying financial system risk relating to the direct impacts of climate change. Currently, Kate mostly works for a philanthropically-funded organization that provides pro bono support to advance climate action across multiple sectors. She is also a regular contributor to Bloomberg Green.

On Twitter: @kmac

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Recording date: February 3, 2020

Air date: February 19, 2020

Geek rating: 1