Oliver Yates has more than 25 years of global experience in banking and finance. He has had a long-term career in establishing international renewable energy businesses and investment in emissions reduction activities. He has led studies and run projects for the avoidance of land degradation and deforestation. He was recently the inaugural CEO of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, established by the Australian Government, which has made investment commitments of over $6 billion to clean energy projects.
Oliver is a respected renewable energy expert. Over his career, he has been involved in the financing of numerous power projects, as well as infrastructure, property and aircraft assets. He has also been an active participant in policy debate throughout his life, and most particularly a strong advocate for urgent climate change action, based on the clear and compelling science.
He has decided that he must stand at this election because of his concern that the current Federal Government denies and ignores the serious threat of climate change and its risk to all citizens, our children’s future and our national treasures. Oliver believes that the Government’s failure to adopt a risk-based approach to addressing climate change is a clear indication that it either doesn’t care or is blatantly denying the science of climate change.
As a former senior executive within the Macquarie Group, Oliver was involved in establishing new businesses and growing the bank’s operations internationally, as well as leading the bank’s initiatives in wind, solar, biofuels, carbon credits and other renewable businesses.
Early on, Oliver brought his concern about climate change to his Macquarie career. He recommended a strategy to undertake research into global investment opportunities for environmental improvement. In 2008, he established Macquarie’s Utilities and Climate Change group to develop capacity in environmental markets and financing of greenfield renewable energy infrastructure. He then led Macquarie’s partial acquisition of Climate Friendly, now Australia’s highest rated and largest voluntary carbon action business.
Oliver also established the BioCarbon Group that became a leading international investor in emerging markets, specialising in land-based projects, from conserving the natural environment, to sustainable agriculture, to energy services. With Oliver’s involvement, BioCarbon led schemes that sought to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries. BioCarbon remains part-owned by Macquarie, along with the IFC arm of the World Bank.
Later, Oliver led a joint task force for Macquarie to develop conservation projects funded through the revenue from the carbon markets, working with Flora and Fauna International, a renowned conservation innovator that continues to make a lasting impact on global biodiversity. He also led the establishment African Clean Energy Development, a clean energy business to address climate change and energy sustainability.
In 2010 at Macquarie, Oliver formed the Green Grid consortium on behalf of the South Australian government, to assess transmission investment opportunities to unlock large scale renewable energy generation projects in South Australia. The consortium proposed a Green Grid on the Eyre Peninsula, a region long recognised for its significant wind resource but constrained due to the lack of electricity transmission infrastructure. The proposed grid would be supported by system upgrades in South Australia and to the Heywood interconnector to Victoria, as well as further extensions to allow South Australia to be a significant, reliable exporter of wind generated electricity into the National Electricity Market. The consortium also proposed a new, more equitable approach to funding network extensions, with costs recovered proportionately from generators that would ensure the best outcome for electricity customers.
Prior to this, Oliver represented Macquarie in working with the Clinton Foundation and the Victorian government on a business case for the CarbonNet Project, investigating the potential for establishing a commercial-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) project in the LaTrobe valley.
Oliver has most recently been a Board member of the Smart Energy Council, a position he was pleased to take due to this government’s inaction and policy vacuum in relation to climate change. Oliver’s commitment to this cause is only heightened with the increase of carbon emissions in every year of this Liberal government.
Fundamentally, Oliver is concerned that the lack of policy certainty only ensures that the renewable energy projects required to replace the ageing coal-fired generators have a higher risk profile which will require higher returns to the project developers and, in turn, lead to higher prices to customers.
Oliver has also recently been a Board member of ClimateWorks, an independent, research-based, non-profit organisation that is committed to catalysing reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in Australia. ClimateWorks has built a reputation as a trusted, credible and fact-based broker, working in partnership with leaders from the private, public and non-profit sectors. Oliver has taken leave of absence from the Board as a result of his standing for this election.
Oliver has long been an advocate for Australia and other countries to each commit to decarbonisation pathways and science-based emissions reduction targets to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees. This will require significant investment, with supportive policies and regulation that recognises the level of urgency. It will also require embracing of new technologies to facilitate a decentralised, decarbonised and digitised electricity system. Oliver also advocates the opportunities for renewable energy storage in the form of transportable renewable fuels and chemicals, including hydrogen.
To stand for this election, Oliver has resigned as an executive director at Macquarie where, most recently, he was leading an initiative called Pathway Investments that is pursuing global, long lead-time investments for countries to achieve significant decarbonisation targets. Oliver has also resigned as an executive director at UPC Renewables Australia that is developing significant renewable energy projects in Tasmania and NSW. He has also resigned from the advisory board of H2U, a developer of renewables-based hydrogen projects; as a director of the Asian Renewable Energy Hub, which is a mega 15GW renewable energy project in the Pilbara, WA, including export capability; and finally as a director of Baroota Pumped Hydro that is developing a pumped storage project in South Australia.
It is clear that Oliver has made an enormous contribution of time and expertise to businesses and projects that will help address climate change. His concern for urgent action on climate change was further highlighted last year with the release of the latest IPCC 1.5 Report, clearly indicating that the climate change challenge is now a global emergency.
In this election, his simple message is that we must all do everything in our power to hand our children the same environment that we inherited ourselves. That is why Oliver is standing as a candidate in this election, to replace a former Environment and Energy Minister and now Federal Treasurer that has so blatantly left Australia in the energy transition slow lane.
As more and more people are recognising, this is the first generation that is seeing the real impacts of climate change, but the last generation that has any chance of making a meaningful response. Oliver is determined to ensure that climate change is top of the political agenda and that Australia captures the economic opportunities in being a world leader in this vital energy transition.