Divest Invest Conference Program Click here to see PDF of conference program.

Divest Invest Conference Program
Click here to see PDF of conference program.


8.00:  Registration

9.00:  Welcome: John Connor, CEO, The Climate Institute

The scale of the 1.5-2˚C challenge – moving on from the science to carbon budgets and the urgency of the low carbon transition.

9:10:  Video: Rachel Kyte, CEO and UN Special Envoy, Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) and former World Bank Vice-President and UN Special Envoy on Climate.

9:15:  Fast facts for smart investors

9.15: Australia’s fossil fuel dynamics – temporary setback or systemic change? Tim Buckley,Director of Energy Finance Studies, IEEFA

9.23: When will Australia jump on the global cleantech juggernaut? Kobad Bhavnagri, CEO, Bloomberg New Energy Finance 

9.30: Australia post-COP21 – politics, regulation and climate. Emma Herd, CEO, Investor Group on Climate Change

9.40: International keynote speaker: Stephen Heintz

In 2014, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, established from the fortunes of oil, announced one of the largest divestment commitments to date of their USD$860 million foundation portfolio. Hear from President Stephen Heintz, about their moral and economic decision to divest and their role in the global Divest Invest movement.

Learn from the Rockefeller Fund experience:

  • How did the board work through the decision-making process?
  • What is the timeframe involved in the process and how have the new portfolios performed so far?
  • Were there pitfalls or lessons learnt that Australian investors can learn from?

10.30: Morning tea

11.00: Plenary 1: DIVEST

The global movement to shift investments out of fossil fuels and into clean energy is growing rapidly and currently includes 500 pledging institutions worth a collective US$3.4 trillion. Hear from inspiring first movers in this area including foundations, universities and super funds about why and, importantly, how they are implementing this shift to low carbon portfolios.

  • What is the best way to divest in a fossil fuel heavy economy?
  • What are the most popular divestment methodologies and correspondent risks and returns?
  • How have stakeholders responded?

Speakers: Helga Birgden, Partner, Global Head of Responsible Investment, Mercer (Chair); Councillor Arron Wood, City of Melbourne; Bill Hartnett, Head of Sustainability, Local Government Super; Dr Max Horster, Partner, South Pole Group.

12.00: Plenary 2: INVEST – Out of the frying pan and into the land of opportunities.

Following the milestone Paris COP21 global agreement to ‘pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels’ there will be a new wave of massive global investment in low carbon solutions to achieve this goal. A trillion a year by some estimates. This session will look at the clean and green investment landscape in Australia and how it compares with other markets like the US.

  • What does this mean in practice for institutional investors and their portfolios?
  • What and where are the opportunities in the pipeline and what are the barriers to product development and investment.

Speakers: Peter Castellas, CEO, Carbon Market Institute (Chair); Ted Dow, former CIO, Clean Energy Finance Corporation; Emma Herd, CEO, Investor Group on Climate Change; Greg Bourne, Inaugural Chair, Australian Renewable Energy Association.

12:55: Announcement by Divest Fossil Fuels Australia Sue Mathews, DFFA, Trustee, The Mullum Trust

1.00: Lunch

2.00: Breakout 1 (Choose 1)

DIVEST: Divestment characteristics. Understanding, measuring and managing portfolio risk (Room A)

This session is a forensic examination of: the Australian stock market and its various fossil fuel components; divestment approaches and strategies that Australian institutions have adopted; corresponding risk return characteristics and investment outcomes; analysing your current portfolio and deciding which methodology to adopt.

Speakers: Louise O’Halloran AEGN (Chair); Greg Fernance, former CIO Sydney University Endowment; Trevor Thomas, Managing Director, Ethivest.

FIDUCIARY: Fiduciary duty, board and trustee engagement – lessons learnt (Room B)

What do boards need to consider in a post-Paris climate agreement reality? Do you understand what that may mean for your organisation?  This session looks at what trustees need to consider – and how they can go through this process. Be informed, establish policy, follow due process and achieve successful implementation.

Speakers: Kate Auty, Chair MSSI, Melbourne University; Martijn Wilder, Global Environmental Markets, Baker McKenzie; Sarah Barker, Special Counsel Minter Ellison, non-exec Director, ESS Super.

2:50:  Breakout 2 (Choose 1) 

 Investing in a low carbon future – case studies, emerging products, global trends, policy settings (Room A)

What can a low carbon investment portfolio look like now for institutional and retail investors?  How do investors balance their Australian and international portfolios and risk return characteristics across asset classes with a carbon constrained lens? 

This session dives into the detail of ‘in demand’ products such as climate bonds, environmental funds and indexes and what will come next. Are there sufficient policy signals and mechanisms for investors to have confidence getting back on the clean tech and renewables ‘bike’ again? Portfolios that have excluded fossil fuel investments have out-performed in recent years with depressed fossil fuel markets - will the trend continue?

Speakers: John McKinnon (Chair); Eric Smith, CIO, Redpoint IM; Dr Stuart Palmer, Head of Ethics, Australian Ethical Investments and Superannuation.

 ADVOCACY: Investor advocacy: how have NGOs transformed the climate movement? (Room B)

Hear from key advocacy organisations who have been pioneering approaches for the last decade and who are expanding the horizon of investment requirements and transparency. Where will the next focus be and what is their role in the Australian Divest Invest movement going forward?

Speakers: John Connor, CEO, The Climate Institute (Chair); Blair Palese Co-Founder and CEO, 350.org; Julian Vincent, Market Forces; Richard Denniss, Chief Economist, The Australia Institute.

3.35:   Afternoon tea

4.00:   Workshops: Faith-based organisations, philanthropies, supers, local councils, unions, HNWIs

Facilitated by Rebecca Mikala-Wright, Divest Invest Project Director, The Climate Institute.

This session is designed to help each sector to create their own divestment guidelines and roadmaps – with the support and help from those who have already been through the process. Contribute to the session … gather supportive networks… come away with tangible tools such as roadmaps for implementation, governance advice and communication strategies.

Separate workshops will be held for:

  • Foundations, individual philanthropists, HNW investors
  • Universities, hospitals and other large NFP institutions
  • Churches
  • Superannuation funds, asset consultants, managed funds
  • Unions
  • Local councils and other government bodies

5:00: Closing plenary: How we invest shapes our world

Can you imagine living a zero carbon life in a zero carbon economy? Many say it will be the fastest and biggest transition that humankind has ever undertaken. So it begs the question - what kind of investments will be needed to reach that destination – safely, prosperously and quickly? And what kind of investors, investment practices and cultures will be fit for purpose?

Keynote: Dr John Hewson AM, Chair, Asset Owners Disclosure Project

Respondents: Louise O’Halloran, NSW Manager/Finance Sector Specialist - Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network; James Bond, Director of External Affairs and Investment, Australian Superannuation Funds Association (ASFA).

5.30: Networking function