Five questions for climate expert Professor Tim Flannery


The 2016 Paris Agreement, to which Papua New Guinea is a signatory, has committed governments across the globe to a low carbon future. What does that mean for business? Renowned climate expert Professor Tim Flannery tells Business Advantage PNG there will be enormous opportunities.

Professor Tim Flannery

Business Advantage PNG: You’re addressing the 2018 PNG Investment Conference in August on opportunities that will arise from a low carbon future. What will a low carbon future look like?

Tim Flannery: The low carbon future actually needs to be a carbon negative future. The impacts will be economy-wide, from a big expansion in aquaculture to changed agricultural practices, to construction materials, to new industrial power sources.

BAPNG: Transitioning to a low carbon economy is sometimes portrayed as a negative for business, involving costs and additional risks. Is there a more positive way of looking at it, from a business perspective?

Flannery: Avoiding severe impacts from climate change is likely to involve a global carbon price, so there will be some costs. But the opportunities are where business should be focused. The opportunities in seaweed farming alone (already a multi-billion dollar business) are enormous. In future, it’s likely that seaweed will be providing large volumes of methane from improved bio-digesters, along with building materials, feedstocks and innovative medical supplies.

BAPNG: What kinds of businesses need to start thinking about these issues?

Flannery: Just about every business needs to think about the trends that are already arising and which will grow in future. In the power industry, the transformation is well advanced, but will deepen as concentrated solar thermal power transforms industrial processes.

Mining is already being impacted as the coal industry shrinks and new opportunities arise in lithium. Transport is facing electrification, and construction will face challenges supplying and utilising carbon-neutral concretes and cements.

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BAPNG: What kinds of business opportunities will arise in a low carbon global economy? And how well-placed is a country like Papua New Guinea to take advantage of them?

Flannery: The opportunities that come with new, improved processes and materials are just about limitless. PNG is particularly well-placed to take advantage of opportunities in the aquaculture sector. Its large marine resources and proximity to deep marine trenches make it a prime location.

BAPNG: How would you describe the role PNG has played in your professional

Flannery: Well, I sometimes dream in Melanesian pidgin! But really, I learned my science at the feet of great village professors—village elders who taught me everything there was to know about PNG’s unique fauna. I’ve been trying to repay the debt ever since.

Professor Tim Flannery is Professorial Fellow at the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, University of Melbourne. He will be the keynote speaker at the 2018 Papua New Guinea Investment Conference, speaking on ‘Opportunities for business in a low carbon future’. The conference will be held at the Sofitel Brisbane on 6 & 7 August. To view the program or register to attend, visit


  1. Ajit Muttu says

    Professor has said that aquaculture will be the future but not explained how aquaculture will develop in trenches in the seas. For example, I work with Cool Earth as a volunteer and have designated rainforest areas in Milne Bay as part of Queens Commonwealth Canopy to preserve the forests for future generations. But I have so far not been able to show the way forward in sustainable development such as aquaculture because I do not know how these ideas work in a practical way to provide incomes for village persons.

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