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How small businesses are tapping into the climate tech boom

By Orana Durney-Benson
20 October 2023 | 10 minute read
alex matthews commbank speaking reb y6ujl3

For Australian businesses speeding towards net zero carbon footprint, climate tech is prophesied to play a critical role – and real estate is no exception.

The next decade is predicted to see a substantial rise in the funding, research and development of climate tech. From electric vehicles to low-carbon cement and emission-measurement tools, this diverse family of technologies is forecast to increase ninefold over the next 10 years as Australians seek to address the climate crisis.

Alex Matthews, general manager of climate strategy at Commonwealth Bank, revealed that “funding for climate tech in Australia has accelerated in recent years, and Australian ventures hope to raise $1.5 billion in the next 12 months”.

“With strong research and development, a thriving start-up ecosystem and pools of capital, Australia is well-positioned to capture the opportunity,” he stated.

According to CBA research, climate action is a matter close to the heart of many Australian businesses, with nearly three in five businesses reporting they have made changes to reduce their environmental footprint. The data revealed that the primary barrier to meaningful climate change is not motivation, but money.

Sixty per cent of businesses reported that costs and lack of funding are the primary obstacles getting in the way of their sustainability goals.

Mr Matthews emphasised that the impending climate tech boom would be an economic solution, not just a technological one. He noted: “We’ve seen this in practice already as innovation has drastically reduced the cost of solar panels in past years, making these technologies more affordable for Australian businesses and households.

“We see climate tech playing a critical role in not only providing new solutions for consumers and businesses, but also helping address cost barriers through efficiencies in the ways these solutions are developed and brought to market,” he reiterated.

With buildings accounting for half of Australia’s total electricity use and almost a quarter of all emissions, real estate will play an indispensable role in this climate transition. And it isn’t just the properties agents sell that contribute to emissions. As a transit-reliant industry, the growth of electric vehicles could play a major role in the sector’s move to carbon neutrality.

Numerous real estate businesses have already implemented policy changes to neutralise their carbon emissions, including REA Group, Queensland’s Coronis network, and Tasmanian agency 4one4 Property Co.

Coronis chief operating officer Karuna Dimelow shared with REB, as the nation gears up for COP26, “there is a mentality out there of, ‘I’m just a small business, what difference can I make?’ But if every Australian business implemented the smallest of changes to their operations, it could add up to make a huge difference”.

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