We asked Darrell how he came to champion Greenpeace’s ASX100 ReEnergise campaign and how his approach to philanthropy works so well within the AEGN.
It was a memory from university days that first sparked Darrell Wade’s interest in the idea floated at a Greenpeace strategy meeting about the climate crisis. As an economics graduate, Darrell was acutely aware of the importance of both supply and demand in driving market change. With so much progress being made on the ‘supply’ side of clean energy – falling renewables prices and rapid technological progress, Darrell wondered about the opportunity to create change by shifting ‘demand’ from Australia’s biggest energy users from dirty coal to clean energy.
Seizing an opportunity
In Australia, one of the sunniest and windiest countries in the world, the top 100 electricity consuming companies are responsible for roughly a third of our electricity consumption. With the price of renewable energy falling fast relative to increasingly expensive and unpopular coal-fired power, there was a significant opportunity to push Australia’s leading energy users towards renewable energy.
With this in mind, Greenpeace’s ASX100 plan, REenergise, was developed. The mission was simple: persuade Australia’s biggest energy users to commit to 100 per cent renewables by 2025.
When Greenpeace developed a proposal, Darrell posted it to the AEGN Project Clearinghouse as a matched funding opportunity. Darrell would contribute $100,000 if other funders would match it. To his great satisfaction, AEGN members jumped at the opportunity and within 48 hours, about a dozen AEGN members donated to reach the project target of $200,000.
Leveraging the power of networks
“In the AEGN matched funding can work really well. There are two things I like about matched funding. Firstly, it’s more bang for your buck by leveraging twice the amount of funds, but secondly, it provides strong validation of the concept – if like-minded philanthropists agree that it’s a good idea, then it is more likely to actually be a good idea!”.
“This then demonstrates to Greenpeace that this is a good idea too – it sends a strong signal to the organisation that it is popular. Such an overwhelmingly positive response gives Greenpeace a big incentive to potentially expand the campaign in future.”
Darrell and Greenpeace are proud that the campaign is doing ‘significantly’ better than expected – the results speak for themselves. The list of corporates ditching coal for clean energy is truly impressive, with Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, Telstra, the big four banks and Coca-Cola Amatil all committed to 100 per cent clean energy. The recent commitments from many of Australia’s biggest corporates to renewable energy not only means a drastic increase in demand for clean energy, but also sends a powerful message to other corporations that quick and decisive action to shift to clean energy is possible, AND makes good business sense.
Such an overwhelmingly positive response gives Greenpeace a big incentive to potentially expand the campaign in future.
“I see climate change as the most pressing environmental issue we have, so I ask myself, where can we have maximum impact? We will see direct uptake of renewables from this work, and a clear reduction in emissions from coal. So whether you fund the establishment of a conservation area or an uptake in renewables they are both tangible outcomes. This work is an extraordinary example of the power of advocacy with a great strategy, led by great people.”
Darrell remains firm in his belief that funders should support projects they are passionate about. “Ultimately it is up to the philanthropist to decide where their passion lies and where you want impact and where you relate.”
When asked about whether Darrell prefers to keep his funding private, he remarks “I don’t see the need to be public, in fact I would prefer it isn’t. But I know at times it is important to give a name and example of funding to encourage others to give. If I hadn’t put our name to the matched funding then we wouldn’t have gotten the funding to get the project off the ground.”
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