Corporations, Markets and Climate Change: Opposition or Opportunities?

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Corporations and capitalism are often blamed for environmental problems, and on climate change we are often told that there needs to be a ‘balance’ between economic and environmental outcomes.  This suggests they are mutually contradictory, and therefore that the environmental damage resulting from economic imperatives must somehow be accommodated.  On the other hand, there is enormous potential for business to drive the solutions necessary for decarbonising our economy given the economic motivators to do so through markets.  One reason why this is not stressed as much as it could be is that those benefitting from the status quo are in a position to politically frustrate the changes necessary, while for often ideological reasons others believe that the government must take the lead.  The presenters on this panel tease out the opposition and opportunities involved in such debates.


John Mikler (Chair) and Imogen Ryan: Gaslighting Australia: The Instrumental Power of Australia’s Mining and Energy Industries

John Mikler is an Associate Professor in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney. He researches corporations’ relations with states, civil society and international organisations, as well as how they are political actors in their own right. He has published over 30 journal articles and book chapters, and 6 books. His recent books include The Political Power of Global Corporations (Polity 2018); MNCs in Global Politics: Pathways of Influence (co-edited with Karsten Ronit, Edward Elgar 2020); and Capitalism for All: Realising its Liberal Promise (co-authored with Neil E. Harrison, SUNY 2022). In addition to researching climate change and capitalism, he is currently part of a team examining the politics of global corporate tax avoidance.

Imogen Ryan completed her Honours thesis ‘Gaslighting Australia: Examining Australia’s Climate Inaction at COP26’ in 2022, for which she was awarded Honours First Class. Her research has since been published in the Australian Journal of Politics and History, co-authored with Associate Professor John Mikler. She is currently a medical student at the University of Sydney. She has an ongoing research interest in climate change and public health policy.

Anja Bless: Markets for ecosystem services: The commodification of human-nature relations in the regenerative agriculture movement

Anja Bless is an Academic Tutor in Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney and a PhD candidate with the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney where she is researching the politics of regenerative agriculture. Her focus areas are environmental politics, food politics and policy, sustainable food systems, and sustainable consumption. She completed her Honours (First Class) in Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney and holds a Master of Environment (Distinction) from the University of Melbourne.

Phillip Lawrence: The 1862 Companies Act, Mary Shelley was right!

Dr Phillip Lawrence has a PhD in Government and International Relations from the University of Sydney and a Master of Business by Research from UTS.  He is currently completing a Master of International Law at the University of Sydney. He has an extensive career in international business in the US, Europe, Scandinavia, Southeast Asia,  China, and of course Australia and New Zealand.

Lee White: Geographies of regulatory disparity underlying Australia’s energy transition

Dr Lee White is a Senior Lecturer and Horizon Fellow at the University of Sydney. Her research focuses on energy transition regulation and governance for climate change mitigation, including equity aspects of the energy system that must be addressed to achieve sustainability.


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