Australian software billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes and his wife Annie have announced plans to invest another $1.5 billion of their own wealth into renewable energy investments and philanthropic projects pushing towards the 1.5°C climate target.
The announcement is deliberately timed just before the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, as business and industry also ramp up their renewable and climate commitments, and as the federal government stalls over a 2050 net zero target, and reportedly refuses to lift its weak 2030 target.
Cannon-Brookes has taken a leading role in the climate and energy debate in Australia since first intervening with the so-called “billionaire tweets” with Elon Musk that ultimately led to the building of the Tesla big battery in South Australia, and then taking on Scott Morrison over his definition of “fair dinkum” power.
Since then, Cannon-Brookes has already invested $1 billion, including into the early work of the massive Sun Cable venture, which will feature the world’s largest solar farm and big battery, and is being designed to supply power to Singapore via a sub-sea cable and provide cheap and clean power to local industry.
Grok Ventures, the private investment arm of the Cannon-Brookes, has also invested in companies such as Zoox, Gottera, Brighte, SunDrive, Weavegrid, Who Gives a Crap, Canva and even Elon Musk’s Spacex.
“This is about raising ambition and urgency on personal, business and government levels,” Cannon Brookes said of the new investment, which is earmarked to be spent by 2030.
“Myself and Annie are raising our ambition, Atlassian is raising its ambition. Others copying this model would be an incredible result. Together we can create meaningful change.”
RenewEconomy understands that of the new money, $1 billion will go to renewable energy projects (not including Sun Cable), while another $500 million will go to philanthropic funding.
Examples of his previous philanthropy funding include Rewiring Australia, the strategy of “electrifying everything” led by Australian scientist Saul Griffith, and the think tank Beyond Zero Emissions.
Atlassian, the company that Cannon-Brookes co-founded, has committed to reach net zero in line with the science-based target of 1.5°C, and on Thursday announced it would accelerate that commitment by 10 years to 2040.