Fueling the Economy Now, Lowering Future Prosperity
The mining industry may be carrying Australia’s economy now, but according to the Climate Institute’s newest report, the nation is the most unprepared of the G20 to prosper in a low-carbon economy.
Released today, the report says that Australia is the only advanced economy to have scored lower on its 2012 ‘low-carbon competitiveness index’ than in 1995, meaning that Australia’s dependence on un-environmental activities has increased.
The index is a compilation of three issues: how the country’s economy is currently structured to facilitate greener activity; efforts made to lower their carbon emissions; and investments in education and infrastructure. Considering that mining and coal exporting are huge industries here, Australia’s index took a major hit.
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“Australia has the lowest level of overall clean energy production, the second highest number of cars per capita and relatively high deforestation and emissions per capita from the transport sector,” News.com.au reported.
In 1995, Australia ranked 12th out of 19 countries in the index; today, they are ranked 16th, having been overtaken by Turkey, Mexico, Russia and South Africa, says the Brisbane Times.
While the nation does have a plan in place – the Carbon Tax – this wasn’t a contributing factor in the index calculation because the tax won’t officially take effect until 1 July 2012. Still, perhaps the index will provide a much-needed kick in the environmental butt to seek alternative, greener solutions to Australia’s economic boosters.
“To remain competitive in a future carbon-constrained world, Australia will need to turn into a lower carbon economy,” the Brisbane Times quoted BHP Billiton chief Marius Kloppers’ immortal 2010 speech.
Business Chief Legend: Ho Ching, CEO of Temasek
Ask Singaporeans who Ho Ching is, and the majority will answer the ‘wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’. And that’s certainly true. However, she’s also the CEO of Temasek Holdings, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, and one of the world’s largest investment companies.
Well, she is until October 1, 2021, as she recently announced she would be retiring following 16 years as CEO of the investment giant.
Since taking the reins in 2004, two years after joining Temasek as Executive Director, Ho has gradually transformed what was an investment firm wholly owned by Singapore’s Government into an active investor worldwide, splashing out on sectors like life sciences and tech, expanding its physical footprint with 11 offices worldwide (from London to Mumbai to San Francisco) and delivering growth of US$120 billion between 2010-2020.
Described by Temasek chairman Lim Boon Heng as having taken “bold steps to open new pathways in finding the character of the organisations”, Ho is credited with building Temasek’s international portfolio, with China recently surpassing Singapore for the first time.
As global a footprint as Ho may have however, she has her feet firmly planted on Singapore soil and is committed to this tiny city-state where she was not only educated (excluding a year at Stanford) but has remained throughout her long and illustrious career – first as an engineer at the Ministry of Defence in 1976, where she met her husband, and most notably as CEO of Singapore Technologies, where she spent a decade, and where she is credited with repositioning and growing the group into the largest listed defence engineering company in Asia.
It’s little wonder Ho has featured on Forbes’ annual World’s Most Powerful Women list for the past 16 years, in 2007 as the third most powerful woman in business outside the US, and in 2020 at #30 worldwide.
But it’s not all business. Ho has a strong track record in Singapore public service, serving as chairman of the Singapore Institute of Standards and Industrial Research and as deputy chairman of the Economic Development Board; and is a committed philanthropist with a focus on learning difficulties and healthcare.
As the pandemic kicked off, she not only led active investments in technology and life sciences, with German COVID-19 vaccine developer BioNTech among the most recent additions to Temasek’s portfolio, but through the Temasek Foundation – the firm’s philanthropic arm which supports vulnerable groups close to Ho’s heart, handed out hand sanitiser and face masks.
So, you would be forgiven for thinking that at age 68, Ho might simply relax. But in March 2021, just as she announced her retirement from Temasek, Ho joined the Board of Directors of Wellcome Leap, a US-based non-profit organisation that’s dedicated to accelerating innovations in global health. Not ready to put her firmly grounded feet up yet it seems.