Climate fix 'impossible alone and possible together'

·3-min read

Billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes' tech firm Atlassian has issued a guide to help like-minded companies reduce their carbon footprint.

Whether motivated by environmental values, the strong business case, or avoiding falling foul of climate-minded regulators, the corporate sustainability blueprint - titled Don't F&*! The Planet - offers practical advice.

"It's not enough for us to move on our own, we have to do it in lock step with other big business," head of sustainability Jess Hyman told AAP from California.

Consumers have high expectations and whole supply chains are on the hook for carbon emissions, which means asking suppliers and services to be honest about their operations.

"We saw the business risk and, frankly, the very real opportunity side of going after it," Ms Hyman said.

"We need to be really clear that this is about long-term success."

Customers in the United States and Europe are setting and scrutinising supply chains that stretch to and from Australia.

Worldwide, regulators are making it clear that climate disclosures will be a requirement of doing business.

"It's become a question of how quick are you going to push, are you going to capture first-mover advantage," she said.

"The pressure is just too great at this point, as we near the point of peak emissions, to kick the can down the road."

Back in 2019, Atlassian was the first large Australian tech firm to join RE100, a global grouping of companies aiming for 100 per cent renewable energy use.

There is a need to set "ruthless" priorities, which for Atlassian meant starting with a science-based target for reducing the company's emissions, Ms Hyman said.

The Mountain View office in California was already green and the rest of its operations must follow suit, including new headquarters being built in Sydney with Atlassian the anchor tenant in the world's largest hybrid timber tower.

But as more people work from home, company emissions must also take other locations into account.

The blueprint tracks Atlassian's progress and draws on more than 100 conversations with peer companies, including Australia's Canva and other tech firms balancing rapid growth and net-zero goals.

"We've been talking about how these goals are completely impossible alone and possible together," Ms Hyman said.

But there's no one-size-fits-all approach as every company is urged to understand their own emissions profile.

She recommended starting with a target for emissions reduction, getting it independently checked, and then reporting on progress.

"And I caution people from setting a goal if they don't have a plan to really do the work," she said.

"You have to do both and you need to anticipate that your stakeholders are going to hold you to it."

Atlassian hopes the guide is a way of "paying it forward" for the advice received from peers on going net zero.

"There are companies like Workday and Salesforce that really did that for us and gave us the confidence we could move on this too," Ms Hyman said.